On Friday September 7, 2007, we kicked off a weekend fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with a Rib Eye steak dinner at the Birmingham Greyhound Race Course. Because the race course cuts their own steaks on site, they have some of the freshest steaks in town. So needless to say, dinner was pretty good. Our dining room was set up in the clubhouse where there are floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the race track. While we were eating, we got to watch the dogs run, and the guys also got to catch the Busch Race on the little TV sets at each table, which could be tuned to whatever channel the table chose to watch. Pretty cool!
I was disappointed in the turnout for the steak dinner, and was it not for a few of our really good friends showing up, it wouldn’t have taken much for me to break down and cry! For several months we put a lot of ourselves and our time into planning this weekend and it was a shame more people weren't able to make it.
The festivities on Saturday were scheduled around the Hawgs and Dawgs Bike Night at the Birmingham Race Course, and the best way to describe it is like a bike night on steroids. For us, the day started around 1:00 p.m., when we went to the track to meet with some of the vendors and manufacturers as they arrived. A lot of the vendors are set up in what used to be the paddock stalls; it was a “stable” full of vendors! Scruggs Trailer & Equipment in Pinson, Alabama brought us two trailers on Friday so they were already set up.
American Cycle Centers in Hoover was the first to show up Saturday. They were bringing the Dyno, and needed some time to get everything set up. They also brought a few of their new Victorys and Ridleys to display. As we were getting them set up, Tim Peek with Rider’s Harley-Davidson in Trussville showed up with a couple of Harleys to add to the mix!
Then our “buds” from TNT Custom Cycle in Millbrook showed up with most of their store in tow. We loved it! Because they needed a lot of room for the truck, trailer, and all of their other stuff, they set up in the road that is blocked off for bike access only, and spread out their assortment of 11 new Titan & Saxon bikes, two of which went inside to be with the other new bikes. They also brought a couple of racks of clothes. The owners, Eddie, Lee, and Lanny, along with most of their staff, were there to party with us. It had been a while since we had gotten to play with them. Last time was in their neck of the woods, in the rain and red mud, some of which I still have remnants of in our small camera. We had taken a swan dive into a huge puddle and went swimming in the red mud. We loved it; Leigh even went back for seconds the next day.
We had contacted most of the local radio and TV stations to tell them about the event, and Fox 6 was the first to get back with us, and we gave them some information to mention on air. CBS was the only one to send out a camera, and they weren't even one of the stations we had contacted! They got a few shots of the new bikes as they came in, and wanted a sound bite from me, ahh! There is a reason why we work for a magazine and not TV or radio. Not only was I hot and sweaty, but I was also wearing my “Miss Bitch” shirt! They got a piece out to use on the 5 and 10:00 o'clock news, which is the reason a few of the people showed up later on. Not bad, huh?
By the time I left to go home and change, the place was starting to look like a small rally! We got back pretty quick because the rest of the vendors were coming in and there were a few bikes starting to trickle in. We had the Master of Paint, Michael Swann in to do some pinstriping and brushwork, and he is definitely one of the best in the Southeast. He is a very talented artist and a pleasure to be around. As soon as he started setting up people began milling around and talking to him about something or other they would like to have done on their bike, helmet, or windshield.
Donna Hearn and her husband Mike were setting up their “stall” with all of Donna’s beautiful pieces of Silpada jewelry. She elected not to bring her selection of purses she also sells. Judy the “Leather Lady” and Bruce have an open invitation to set up at any of our events, including the bike nights, and she has been there for most of the Saturday bike nights. The same can also be said about Marta, with “Good Girlz – Bad Girlz” biker apparel. She had also already laid claim to the number 3 stall. I Love It! Green and the Backroads bunch were there with goodies, and Bama Larry with Garage Co. Customs also showed up. Larry even brought this pretty wicked old car with bright green paint and rock-and-roll hydraulics!
We had a new vendor that came to us by way of the Leather Lady and the flea markets; T.E Youngblood. They came bearing ride, event, and "just for the hell of it" pins, as well as some pretty cool “novelty” tobacco items. Stewart and Nancy from Stewart's Custom Upholstery brought their bikes to put in their stall. He does some pretty awesome seatwork on cars as well as bikes and had done the seats on both of their bikes. They went home with some new artwork on their windshields, courtesy of Michael Swann.
Bennie, with the Birmingham Race Course even had one of the stalls set up with goodies from the track, which was a nice touch. After the turn out from the night before, Leigh couldn’t resist asking me if I felt any better about it all, as the bikes continued to roll in, and roll in, and roll in! Leigh and a friend of ours, Bill from Bill's Custom Framing, got stuck out front for several hours directing the bikes in. They were tripping over the volume of people coming in.
Mark and Amy from American Cycle Centers had a $25 donation fee for the dyno runs, with all of the proceeds going to St. Jude. They even had a guy park his bike right in front of the dyno area to make sure he was the first up. They ran bikes through there, back-to-back from the time they got everything set up until the time they started breaking everything down around 10:00 p.m. They might not have stopped then, but they were getting worn out and the dyno was getting hot! Our understanding is that it costs around $65-$100 for most shops to dyno your bike, so it was a pretty damn good bargain!
During one of our bike nights a few weeks earlier we held our first weenie bite contest, and since then, people have been asking when we were going to do it again. I would tell them it was like a drug, so we couldn’t be able to give it to them all the time. Therefore, we had to space it out, but everyone knew we were going to do it again this weekend, and we did! They were ready too; buddy! People started lining up along the little fence and riding their bikes around to where we were dipping and hanging the dogs. It is funny as hell watching the mustard dipped dog slapping the girls in the face. The people that work inside caught wind of what we were doing and they were soon all up in the windows watching. Some were even taking pictures. Hooters is the sponsor of our weenie bite contests. Last month it was held at the Trussville store and this time it was in Pelham. They put up a “Wing Party” for 10, and 50 free wings, so we can award the top two or three with a certificate.
The Wild Turkey was back, and this time Ms. Beth was our Wild Turkey girl for the evening. She came complete with another truckload of giveaways, so we decided to do some door prizes. We distributed goodies to probably half of the crowd. We stayed busy for several hours, and we loved the help we got from Phil Taylor, Bill Smith, Bennie, Billy, and most importantly, my boyfriend Leigh. We all had a blast! People were going around talking about the number of bikes that were there. We knew there were a hell of a lot of them, but didn’t have time to stop and take stock of how many. I like the figures that were floating around, though, which was anywhere from 800 to 1200! Holy Cow!
Although it was technically a fundraising event for St. Jude, we didn’t charge an admission fee or anything because we were counting on everyone to make a donation. It was also part of our regular bike night, so we thought "You don’t charge people to come to a bike night, do you?” Well, let's just say it was a learning experience and I will know better to do things a little differently next time. Although we raised only a small amount from the weenie bite contest, at $5 a bike, the $300 American Cycle Centers generously donated to St. Jude from their dyno runs really helped out. Although we didn't raise near as much as we would have liked to, in all fairness, we did have a lot going on, so it was hard to think about much else beyond that. People were just caught up in the excitement of it all. And just so everyone knows, we genuinely appreciated each and every one of you who came out that night!
Just days before the event I received a call from Adam at Alabama Adventure Park. Adam hooked us up Jack! He told me that the person I had been talking to was no longer with the park, and he would do us a much better deal than we had been offered before. They donated the entrance fee for one rider and one passenger, which included both the Water Park and the Rides Park. We were so excited we decided to lower the “day of” donation/fee to $15 for 2 people! We also figured with a lower price more people would be able to afford to come, which in turn would give us a larger crowd.
We met at Riders Harley-Davidson from noon till 1:30 p.m., thinking we would head to the park around 1:30 p.m., but we didn’t end up leaving until a little before 2 p.m. We had 10 bikes and 2 trucks make the trip. I was crushed, but we still had to make the ride as it was already set in motion. Adam was at the park waiting on us, and holding us a section of the parking lot. The people that made the ride were a whole lot of fun to hang out with, so that kept us from dwelling on the sad turnout; at least while we were at the park!
The Park was a lot of fun, and most of us had never been inside before that day. Adam greeted us and took us all down to the “Tavern,” where he gave everyone a souvenir shot glass, told us where everything was located, and thanked us for being there. We got a cold drink and decided to sit and chill for a minute before descending on the park. Some were a little more prepared than others. That’s okay though, because we got a big kick out of watching them act like kids! We also got some pretty cool Kodak moments to go home with. We will definitely be back, and we are already talking to Adam about next year.
We have a couple of things planned to try and make up for what we didn’t raise from the weekend. We've had several nice items donated that we're going to raffle off for $5 per ticket over the next several weeks. We have also set into motion a bike show at Town & Country Ford in Bessemer on Thursday October 4. The “Cat in the Hat” Jack Roush is making his annual visit to Town & Country Ford while he is in town for the race at Talladega, and he will be there from 5-7 p.m. Even though we will announce the bike show awards after he has already left, we may be able to get him to pick his favorite while he's there. All proceeds from the bike show will go to St. Jude.
On behalf of St. Jude, Leigh and I, we would like to thank all of you who joined us for the ride, dinner, and bike night. We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to the Birmingham Race Course, Tim Peek and Riders Harley-Davidson, Mike Gay and Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson, The Leather Lady, Good Girlz-Bad Girlz Biker Apparel, Backroads, Donna and Mike Hearn with Silpada Jewelry, Stewart & Nancy with Stewart's Custom Upholstery, Dollar Bill and Michele with 102.5 the Bull, Garage Co. Customs, Michael Swann, and Phil Taylor, Scruggs Trailer and Equipment, and Neal my graphics “BUD” for all of the cool banners!
Huge, huge thanks to American Cycle Centers and their generosity, Beth, Ms. Wild Turkey, TNT Custom Cycle for bringing so many of their “toys” all the way up here for everyone to play with. I would also like to thank Adam for hooking us up at Alabama Adventure Park, and to Hooters for their continued support.
Thanks also to the great folks at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for all they do, and thank you for allowing us to put on this event. We look forward to a continued relationship with you guys, and hopefully, next year will net us much greater results!
Please ride safe; we want to see you again down the road!
Write-On and Ride-On
Story and photos by Lynn Reynolds and
Leigh Lilly - Birmingham, Alabama