Nearly 10,000 bikers are expected to crowd the Rockingham Dragway this weekend as the annual Smokeout XII kicks off.
Greg “Edge” Scheuer, event organizer and writer for “The Horse Backstreet Chopper” magazine based in Michigan, said he spends all year planning the event. He got the nickname “Edge” when he served in the Army, and said that bikers only know him by that name.
“I’ve been riding bikes my whole life,” he said. “Then I started writing for this magazine. It started out with people writing us letters. People wanted to meet us, so we thought, ‘OK, we’ll meet at this hotel.’ And about 75 people showed up and we had a blast. People said, ‘We should do this every year.’”
By popular demand, Edge was voted organizer because of his military background, and the events began to grow.
This gathering of bikers focuses on the bike builder. Scraping through scrap yards and swapping out parts to build the perfect bike can take time, but all that hard work pays off when the Smokeout comes around.
“It’s unique,” said Edge. “And it’s got an impact on the culture.”
This is the 12th year of the Smokeout. According to Edge, within the first few years, Discovery Channel became interested in the event, and kicked off the show “Biker Build-Off” in honor of the trend born from these followers and bike builders.
“This is an anti-chrome crowd,” said Edge. “We were stunned when Harley Davidson came out with a non-chrome bike. The guy who rode it had a shirt that said ‘Black Line’ from the show.”
Edge said the crowd at this event is much younger than the usual chopper crowd, around the mid 20s. There are other differences as well.
“There is a difference in the building of the bikes,” said Edge. “The design is different. Usually these bikes are flat black, with no chrome. It’s almost the antithesis of the older crowd that prefers bright colors and lots of chrome accessories.”
Many spectators and participants come from far and wide, and many ride their bikes to the event to show off their builds. The “Horse Backstreet Choppers” magazine Editor David Gregory said he rode his bike from Michigan to California, then to Rockingham.
When asked if the long journey on his bike hurt his backside at the end he said, “God, yes!”
“It’s because they ride on hard tails,” said magazine Office Manager Carla Verkest. “That means no suspension.”
Gregory and Verkest have watched the event grow from its early years.
“It’s called the Smokeout because it started in the Smoky Mountains, in Pigeon Forge,” said Gregory. “But we got kicked out of there. This is our third year here (at Rockingham Dragway).”
Before Rockingham, they tried out Salisbury, Cherokee and Clemmons. Verkest said local businesses hate to see them go when the show is over, because they bring so much revenue to the restaurants and other businesses like hotels.
“They really appreciate us,” said Verkest.
Verkest and her husband are also vendors, like so many at the event, offering parts and services, along with free stickers and good conversation.
If you go:
n You must be at least 18 to enter the event.
n Entry fee on Saturday will be $30.
10 a.m. - Event Opens
10:30-1 a.m. - Registration for The HORSE Backstreet Choppers CHOPA’ SHOW
12:30-3 p.m. - Drag Racing track open for individual practice runs and 50’s Style Drag Racing
1 p.m.- 5 p.m. - George the Painter - White Trash Art Show (ground floor of the drag racing tower)
3 p.m.-3:30 - B-Fuel Pro-Dragster and Bobby Hoover Racing Nitro Runs on the Drag Strip
12 a.m. -4 p.m. Vote for the Chop Off winner
1 p.m. – Painted Lady Contest begins with ladies being painted. (In front of main stage)
1 p.m. - Drawing for the Brass Balls Bobber Bike at the main stage. You must be present to win. This may be quick or take hours but there is certainly stuff to see while you wait. One name will be drawn every minute … until there is a winner present (with valid ID) to claim the bike.
2 p.m.–2:45 Portal Keepers -Hula Hoops and Combat Boots (show in front of main stage)
1 p.m.-2:30 - Register to ride in XsSpeed Mini Bike races at XsSpeed’s booth (next to the HORSE Info booth. You must have an official number to run)
1:30-3 p.m. Vote for your favorite painted lady
1:30-5 p.m. Bikes in place for bike show. (Bike must stay in place until 5:00 pm.)
3:30- Painted Lady Contest Awards (main stage).
4 p.m.-5:30 The Richland County Regulator (Derby Girls) battle it out in a demonstration of Roller Derby mayhem (track staging area) www.richlandcountyregulators.com
5:30-7 p.m. Track Open for 50’s Style Drag Racing
5:30–6 p.m. Hammer & Englishman announce The HORSE BC Bike Show Winners (main stage)
7 p.m.-8:30 XS Speed Mini-Bike Races
7 p.m.–8:30 Kings of Hell (main stage) Rockabilly - www.myspace.com/kingsofhell
8:30 - Horse Girls (main stage) with Hammer, Englishman, Edge, present awards to the Long Road riders
8:45 - Wet T-shirt contest with Roadside Marty (1st Place $100, 2nd Place $75, 3rd Place $50)
9:15 - Jasmine Cain (Headliner-main stage) www.jasminecain.com (main stage)
11 p.m. Event is over.
Saturday Night In the Campground
11:15 Ladies Pole Dancing Contest (1st Place $100, 2nd Place $75, 3rd Place $50)
12 p.m. The Portal Keepers (campground stage)
12:45 Band TBD
12:45 Mini bike drag races (ONLY mini bikes!!)
Burn Outs must be done in the Burn Out Pit.
Event T-shirts are available at the Smoke Out Information booth (Next to the main stage)
All Mini-Bike Superheroes must go to the information booth (Saturday 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.) to register with XsSpeed. If you don’t get your number, you cannot ride in the races.
— Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.