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Sundance Burnout & Wet T-Shirt Contest

Written by  August 31, 2004

Sundance, Wyoming. You know: the place where 'The Kid’ got his name. The Dime Horseshoe Bar in Sundance has hosted the burnout contest for three years. Prior to that, it was run by the city, and used to be held in the street with a bunch of guys just trying to hold onto the bikes. Then they added some hay bales to keep the crowds back. When Tracy took over the Dime Horseshoe Bar and started sponsoring the contest, things changed for the good, of course. He built a platform with a ramp on both sides, of course, and a tire vise to hold the bikes in place. This was a great addition to the contest, as it allows the much larger crowd to see everything from both sides.

Anyway, this is one off my favorite events in Sturgis and it’s really a hoot. Especially this year, as everything, thanks to Mother Nature, was also cool (It’s usually hotter than hell.). I was anxious to get away from the droves of people and traffic in downtown Sturgis, so I headed out from my cozy hotel room in Spearfish to the Burnouts, camera in hand and a wish to see some fried tires. Billy Lane has shown up in previous years but was unable to get his bike up on the ramp because it was too short for his stretched out chopper. While that’s been fixed, he didn’t show up this year. Bummer!

On the stage across from the platform, 'Unfinished Business’ provided background music and after a live auction with some great biker stuff, the contest was under way. Everyone was enjoying a little warmer weather than the day before and my only thought was, 'Hey, at least it not raining.’

Aww, I love the smell of burnt rubber in the morning. It smells like….well, burnt rubber. Smoke, burnt rubber, blown tires, more smoke, more burnt rubber - this was a great contest as the performers were really pushing their bikes and tires to the point of total meltdown. Can you say, 'Hell, Yeah!’

The first contender had won in previous years and is in the Guinness book of World Records for his gallant efforts, but alas, not this year. The crowd went absolutely nuts as this girl got up and just smoked the competition away while standing on her bike and chugging a beer. When she got off her putter she was covered from head to toe in burnt rubber and her tire was nothing more than a pool of melted rubber. And as you can see from the photos below this was just beginning to get good.

There was a bonus this year (at least for me) as I don’t remember (probably due to alcohol abuse) a wet t-shirt contest following the burn-outs, and of course I got to be right up there on platform with the girls. Where else would a photojournalist want to be but right in the thick of things (grinning like a cat)? Little did I know I really was in the thick of things. Mike, my editor, showed up towards the end of the contest and pointed out that it looked like I was ready to go to war with the amount of burnt rubber that now covered my face. This didn’t seem to bother the girls though as they too rubbed up against the blacked railing and me, while showing off their assets. Sometimes I just hate my job…not!

As the crowd cheered them on with yells of 'skin to win,’ and since the Sundance police were no where in sight, the girls were only happy to oblige. Get this - even National Geographic was there interviewing people and filming. I guess they gave up on African tribal women for the biker tribes of South Dakota and their breast baring rituals.

Well, I could describe more and tell you who won but I think the pictures speak for themselves. That’s really better that listening to me ramble anyway, so have at it.

Story by Wayne Thompson

Photos by Wayne Thompson and Mike Schweder