Winnemucca, Nev., May 22–24—Vivian Greene wrote, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” With the weather that was forecast for this weekend I guess we’d see how many people felt like dancing. Weather is a primary factor for this run. Over the years it has seen blazing heat, snow, hail, wind, rain or… it might just be perfect but you never know. As a rider you just pack for any weather. A rally promoter, however, can only hope for good weather and loyal participants.
The Run-A-Mucca Rally is always well organized and the casinos, restaurants and emergency services are always prepared for any and all riders that show up. Friday is a good day to roll in as you have time to check into your room, campsite, RV spot or whatever arrangements you have made. The $35–$40 rally packet (depending if you bought ahead of time or not) includes a run pin, event T-shirt, two poker run sheets, some coupon deals, a Nevada map, a lunch ticket for Saturday’s barbecue in Paradise Valley and the all-important event schedule that could be picked up at the Winnemucca Inn.
This year’s bike giveaway, a 2015 Harley-Davidson Road King in Deep Jade Pearl and Vivid Black paint, was also on display inside the casino. Tickets were $20 apiece or six tickets for $100 and a total of 2,000 tickets were being sold. The winner would be announced Sunday night.
Friday and Saturday afternoons called for Tommy Pearson and his American Daredevil Stunt Show at the Model T Resort but rain took out Saturday’s show. Vendors were open for business in spite of the rain. There were still the various live acts at both inside and outside venues. There wasn’t a lot of outside dancing going on that afternoon though. Bo and the Bluesdrivers out of L.A. shredded outside Winners Casino on a covered stage and Reno’s Mimic rocked it outside the Model T. Fortunately the afternoon showers let off so there was no need to dance in the rain. To kick off the weekend the Model T put on a great fireworks show at 9:00 p.m. After the fireworks you were free to go to any of the casinos or some of the local clubs like the Bar M, the Mineshaft or Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall.
Saturday’s clouds gave way to scattered rain but that didn’t stop the 5K Walk or Run Race at the Model T or the $1,000 Poker Run. The MOB FMX Motorcycle Stunt Show didn’t quite get off the ground until the evening but Eric Haines and his One Man Band Show and his stilt-walking puppets put in appearances all over the place including the barbecue lunch at the Paradise Valley Fireman’s Park. This lunch is actually one of the poker stops for the $1,000 poker run. Cards were drawn at Pete’s Gambling Hall at Winner’s Casino, Bella Grazia Wine Bar, Sundance Casino, New Frontier RV Park, Paradise Valley Fireman’s Park and back to the Winners Casino which was about 85 miles total. You could not draw all your cards at one stop to avoid the rain either. You had to dance in this rain if you wanted all your cards. Just to emphasize the point, the rain had stopped for most of the run but on the way back from Paradise Valley the skies opened up and unleashed rain, wind and hail forcing many riders to the roadside to wait it out. Tim Purney won the $1,000 Poker Run with four kings and a 10 and Lorne Lyon of Winnemucca won $100 for the random draw.
New for this year was the Freedom Festival put on by the Model T Resort to honor the service of our military. The centerpiece in the back parking lot was a large military tent and two fully-restored military trucks. They had arranged not only for the Daredevil Stunt Show but a Miss Freedom Festival Kid Pageant. They were also raffling off a handmade American flag quilt.
At 4:30 p.m. there was a $500 Tattoo Contest at the Winners Casino. As usual Herb Ross, assistant general manager and entertainment director of sales at Winners Casino, handled the emcee duties in his own inimitable style. The winners were Evan Lewis, Best of Show and Best Black and Gray; Pinky Grisko, Best Fresh; Kim (who didn’t stick around to give her last name), Best Color and Peter James, Best Tribal.
MOB FMX was able to finally get their bikes off the ground about 6:45 p.m. and put on a spectacular show doing everything from backflips to Can Cans to Supermans and Tsunamis. Then at the end two of them went into the air several times, at the same time, each doing a Superman. The crowd loved it and the riders, Ben Veyna, Devon Hoyer and Eric Farr, hung around to sign autographs.
Outside Winners Casino was Roberto Luduena of Argentina who had ridden his Honda 125 from Argentina with plans to continue on to Alaska and made a stop in Winnemucca. He’s been on the road for 28 months and when he reaches Alaska he may just hook a right across Canada and ride on into Europe. Other than normal maintenance and tires he hadn’t had any mechanical issues. You can chart his progress on his Facebook page.
Winnemucca is a very patriotic town and proud of its military service members. Every year during this event one of their members is honored in a special service Saturday night. This year’s Soldier of the Year was Michael McNamara of the 593rd MTC Nevada National Guard. Winnemucca Mayor Di An Putnam, Chief of Police Eric Silva and Brigadier General Todd Plimpton spoke at the presentation. General Plimpton presented Michael with a brand-new Remington 870 shotgun.
Savannah Blue, a Southern Rock band out of Sacramento, provided the music for the Saturday night events. They are, without a doubt, one of the best bands I have heard at Run-A-Mucca. The crowd was having a great time since the rain had stopped earlier and at 9:00 p.m. it was time to light up the Burning Bike, the highlight of the event. Mounted on the burn stand, this year’s victim was a fully-dressed 80’s Suzuki Intruder complete with an antenna mounted on each side of the tour pack. The tires even looked fairly new. Gas was spread over the pallets under the bike around the stand and flares were thrown in. As the fire spread the flames finally grew large enough to fully engulf the bike, ultimately reaching almost 40 feet into the air. The audience bathed in the orange glow of the flames and danced until the music ended. All that remained was the frame, the steel tire bands and the two antennas.
Sunday morning found about 200 bikes and riders outside Winner’s Casino for the police escorted Memorial Cruise to Veteran’s Park. At 10:00 a.m. the group pulled out and rode two abreast down Winnemucca Boulevard to Hansen Street, up Hansen and out of town through some 17 miles of backroads ultimately ending up at Veterans Park off Highway 95.
Mike Johnson, commander of the local VFW post, emceed the service. Mayor Putnam spoke too but Jim McLane, local radio personality and a Vietnam vet, said it best: “This day is specific to thank our military men and women who gave their lives.”
Christian Motorcyclists Association State Coordinator Greg Hubbard offered up a prayer for all of our service men and women and also asked for a blessing on all the bikes and riders who were there today. When he said “Amen,” a single shot was fired from an 1841 12″ Mountain Howitzer near the crowd to end the ceremony.
Then it was time to check out the Good Times Drag Strip, a 1/8-mile paved drag strip with a state-of-the-art wireless timing system out on Jungo Road. Unfortunately it too was closed due to the rain so it was back into town for the rest of the festivities.
The second poker run of the weekend was for $400. The stops were at the Big R Store, Player’s Bar, Chihuahua’s Restaurant, Las Margaritas Restaurant and Winger’s Roadhouse Grill. The winner of this run was Laura Walsh with four kings.
In the Raley’s parking lot were the bike games: Walk the Plank, Slow Race and Eggin’ It On, where tennis balls were set up on orange cones. The passenger had to collect the balls without dropping any. The bike game winners were Tina O’Neil and Steve Samlot (Wienie Bite and Slow Race), Brianna and Erik Rasmusson (Eggin’ It On) and Eric Pearson (Walk the Plank). The last Eggin’ It On race was with real eggs instead of tennis balls. The top two scorers in that race would go to sudden death and do the same race using real eggs. Steve Samlot and Tina O’Neil smashed the competition and took home the final plaque.
Just before the bike games started Scott Futrell of Nampa, Idaho, his girlfriend, Laura Henrichs, her sister and another friend were standing near them. Suddenly Scott got down on one knee, whipped out a ring and proposed to Laura. Although Laura was unprepared and stunned she gladly accepted. The two of them sealed the deal with a kiss much to the approval of everyone who witnessed it.
Lyvyn Skynyrd, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band out of Southern California, closed the event Sunday night. They definitely were a real crowd pleaser. After they were done the final prizes were given out. Dan Westfall of Winnemucca won the 2015 Road King. He wasn’t present but a message was left on his phone. Bet he was excited to hear it. The remaining winners came from the bike-drawing barrel but the winner had to be there. Janet Jacaway of Winnemucca won $500 in prize money and Heinz Woelki of Battle Mountain won $250 and First Place in the Rat Class with his 1954 Harley. Jaydee Raynor of Winnemucca scored first in the Builders Class and Best of Show for his beautiful red and black 1965 Bonneville Triumph custom chopper, even though he couldn’t get it started to drive it away. Steve Call’s bike took People’s Choice.
So how many folks learned to dance in the rain? This year the estimates are about a thousand but part of the anticipation of this run is the weather. Vivian Greene would be proud. See you next year.
Bike Show Winners
Best of Show, Jaydee Raynor, 1965 Bonneville Triumph custom chopper
People’s Choice, Steve Call, 2011 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited
Trike, Sandy Thomas, Harley-Davidson Trike
Sport Class, Charles Harris, 2001 Kawasaki ZRX
Rat, Heinz Woelki, 1954 Harley-Davidson
Classic, Liz Henderson, Harley-Davidson
Touring, Freddie Herrera, 2011 Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO
Builder, Jaydee Raynor, 1965 Bonneville Triumph custom chopper
Cruiser, Nancy Harris, 2015 Harley-Davidson Street Glide