by Shaggy of TheCarolinaRider.com
Admit it, REAL bike shows are getting harder to find than Jon Pendleton’s hair line (sorry Jon). Myrtle Beach is as good as history, I can’t afford the required bail money for Daytona, and all Sturgis has to really offer now is a bar where some chick who seems to constantly be high on ‘ludes will sit on your head for a picture. I will admit I’m not totally opposed to the latter. But shit man, what show can you go to without that post Disney land feeling? I’ve had it up to the hairs of my chiny chin chin with trailer queens, chrome polish vendors and GOD ALMIGHTY HAVE MERCY on the next sorry son of a bitch that hands me another restaurant menu while I’m busy trying to stare at some girl who isn’t wearing much. I’m not saying there aren’t some great shows out there, there’s plenty. But there’s alota great shit in the world that may not be what you’re looking for. Some of us, I’m sure, would enjoy going to Vegas to see a prize fight. On the other hand, I’m just shy of positive most of us would rather watch a bare knuckle brawl in your favorite bar’s basement. But does that element still exist in the MOTO-SICKLE realm? To quote The Dropkick Murphy’s “Cheer up son; I know a place where mugs like us belong”.
There is still one place in the world where a bike show is still just that, a bike show. And that place is the SMOKE OUT! If you’ve never been, make it a point to go. Do it for yourself if not for me, you’ll never see another thing like it. Smoke Out is like the petri dish for everything fun, wrong, vulgar, intoxicating, loud, dirty,,,,, four of the five requirements for me to let the kickstand up.
But yes as it sadly turns out this event (which is in its fifteenth year) is still new to many of you. And in order to provide an accurate description I’ve set down with Greg “Edge” Scheuer of “The Horse” to help explain this strange, confusing, and bada$$ phenomenon. So here we go, fifteenth Smoke Out, fifteen Q&As with one of its main organizers, enjoy.
Shaggy: This year marks the fifteenth year for the Smoke Out, how has it changed over the years?
Edge: The first year had very little planning and advertisement. It was held in a hotel parking lot in Pigeon Forge TN. The third year Discovery Channel filmed the first Biker Build Off at the Smoke Out and it just grew from there.
Shaggy: The original Smoke Out was held in Pigeon Forge, after which it moved to the Cherokee reservation and onto Salisbury, and is now held in Rockingham. What made The Horse pick this location and is it here to stay?
Edge: Rockingham is here to stay. We originally picked Pigeon Forge because Ralph Janis’ girlfriend vacationed in the area and liked it. The Cherokee reservation was a great location for the event but we found out too late the area was dry. One of the best stories from Cherokee is about this one guy leaving the res. to buy beer and was stopped by a cop and a member of the Cherokee tribe on his way back in. When the cop asked him why his saddle bags were leaking all he could say was “well I guess that’s the ice keeping my beer cold”. The Cherokee guy just said “do you know that alcohol is one of the number one killer of Native Americans?” The biker’s only response was “I thought that was John Wayne.”
Shaggy: Seeing that THE HORSE is based out of Detroit MI, why was the east coast picked for its national show?
Edge: THE HORSE has always kind of centered on the east coast bike scene. We have managed to “discover” some builders like Indian Larry, Billy Lane, the guys who Jeff and Donnie (started Sucker Punch), Brew Dude and on and on. The NC locations were picked because NC was pretty much the dead center of the east coast. Shaggy… these events you are listing here started much later and we had a hand in starting them. Some of the earliest events we covered were the likes of Indian Larry’s Block Party and Willie’s Tropical Old School bike show, while some of the builders receiving a fair amount of coverage were the likes of Billy Lane and Steve “Brew Dude” Garn.
Shaggy: Any Possibility of the Smoke Out becoming a “Bike Week” in the near future?
Edge: I would probably say never, and I say that for a few reasons. Mostly if you use a fireworks show analogy I do not want it to be one of those longer shows that has a couple bottle rockets at a time and it’s just going to get boring. I like those fireworks shows where they light every fuse in five minutes and everyone says, wow! You should leave the Smoke Out dazzled and say, “that was freaking amazing.”
Shaggy: All Manner of cycle junkies and chopronaughts flock to the Smoke Out Yearly. To your knowledge what is the farthest traveled?
Edge: New Zeeland, and if I’m not mistaken that’s pretty much the exact opposite end of the globe. When we were still doing Smoke out West I did the Long Road ride with two guys from New Zeeland. It was a great cross-country ride.
Shaggy: The main point of Smoke Out is celebrating the diversity of home and garage built bikes. After all these years what is the one odd-ball bike that will always stick out in your mind?
Edge: Hmmm. I guess Mad Dog’s world’s longest chopper. It was like 40’ long. Mad Dog unveiled it at the show to get into the Guinness Book of World records.
Shaggy: One of my personal favorite things about the Smoke Out is the fact that it isn’t a mainstream event. Every time I’ve ever attended it had an underground, “only we know about it” kind of vibe. Was this a target?
Edge: It was never planned but it’s not surprising. The garage builder culture is an underground sub culture. Much of the new-bike, credit card, billet and chrome crowd have never heard of it but when they do come they are like – oh man, now I get it. After that their bikes start to reflect more imagination and less money. We welcome everyone.
Shaggy: To someone who is completely oblivious to this show, how would you describe it to them if you could only use one sentence?
Edge: The annual gathering of the garage builder faithful.
Shaggy: There are two rides that lead to the Smoke Out; The Stampede and The Long Road. Which of these has the biggest fanfare?
Edge: That would have to be The Stampede, being a coast to coast chopper race it’s just crazy and people are fascinated by crazy (laughs). But that’s not to say that The Long Road isn’t awesome in its own way. For a more relaxed, scenic tour with good people and beautiful riding territory The Long Road is highly recommended.
Shaggy: The Smoke Out is famous for packing in the “crowd pleasers” such as the mini bike races, the painted lady contest, drag racing, etc. What is one event the show just couldn’t do without?
Edge: The ride in chopper show, seeing as how garage built bikes are the heart of the show. The ride in show is the main event.
Shaggy: To put the ride in bike show into perspective which bike has a better chance of winning: a late model Dyna Glide covered in dealer accessories or a ratted and rusted Honda cb350?
Edge: The CB350. And that’s not just because a CB350 was my first bike. (laughs) A new bike with all production parts could never win. It’s about engineering and imagination.
Shaggy: How would you describe the drag races at the Smoke Out?
Edge: Very old school and very low tech with almost no time between the runs. The races here operate much like they did back in the fifties. The bikes line up, a pretty girl drops the scarf and off they go.
Shaggy: What are the top three things you are and are not gonna see at the Smoke Out?
Edge: What you will see is the youngest motorcycle demographic of any bike show, you will see the very definition of home engineering and between the bikes and people, and you are guaranteed to always see something you have never seen before. What you will never see is a guy in leather chaps sitting on an over chromed stock bike. You will never, EVER see any disrespect for the military. And you will never hear one of our bands play Born to be wild. (laughs)
Shaggy: Besides a tune up and a saddlebag full of your favorite felonies, what does someone need to do to prepare for the Smoke Out?
Edge: Honestly, a full adjustment of lifestyle. There’s guys who work year round and even take on second jobs to have their bikes ready for this event. But you don’t have to be ready, just come.
Shaggy: Edge, thank you for your time and we all look forward to the show. But before we go is there anything you would like to say to our readers we might’ve missed?
Edge: I highly recommend everyone see the film we made about the show last year entitled “Road 2 Smoke Out” it’s a film we made about Smoke Out and I believe it tells the story pretty well.
Well there you have it folks, straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak). I’m gonna be there I put my life on that. If you see me there flag me down tell me you saw this article, I’ll buy you a beer and together we’ll toast chopperdom at one of the last real chopper shows there is. Until then keep it in between the ditches.
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