If you’ve been aching to don that new leather vest and harness boots, ache no more. On April 30th Panama City Beach shall rumble, heralding the return of the Thunder Beach Spring Rally. From end to end, families, riders, celebrities, artists and some of the most spectacular bikes in the world will cover the beach.
Regarded by many as the “most biker friendly free rally in the United States”, the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally is always a big event. But this year’s event may be the best and biggest Panama City Beach has ever experienced and Myrtle Beach may have a lot to do with it.
As many of you know, Myrtle Beach is Panama City Beach’s largest competition when it comes to bikers and rallies. But by the looks of recent law changes, they might be getting out of the business. Recently, a 3 million dollar property tax increase was passed in Myrtle Beach to fund anti-rally efforts. That’s not the half of it. Myrtle Beach has also added new laws declaring unpermitted rallies and events to be public nuisances, created a midnight curfew, closed bars at 2 am, required all motorcyclists to wear helmets (not a requirement under state law), towing and impounding all motorcycles that do not meet noise standards, checkpoints where motorcycles will be monitored for noise, and traffic diversion such as barriers and closed streets. So what does all this mean? Basically, it means a bigger rally for Panama City Beach, and I’m sure the local businesses will take it.
“We’re definitely expecting huge turnout this year.” Says Corky McCollum, A Thunder Beach Productions coordinator. “We’ve got bigger events, more venues and the total numbers of vendors have increased considerably.”
The schedule for bike week is substantial and the venues cover the entire beach. The list of venues include, Shoppes at Edgewater, Club La Vela, Sandpiper Beacon, Boardwalk Beach Resort, Sharky’s, Pier Park, Rockit Lanes and Frank Brown Park.
And the events this year are family-friendly. There will be demos all over the beach particularly the Harley Davidson Drill Team at Pier Park. They’ll be teaching and doing all sorts of stunts. If that doesn’t make you want to jump into your chaps, at Club La Vela, Speed Channel’s Jay Barbieri, host of American Thunder, will be hosting a televised “Build Off” allowing two bikers to pick any parts from their accessory demo rig to amp-up their bikes. Suckerpunch Sally, an old-school bike manufacturer will be giving away one of its beautiful custom bikes during a VIP party at Ebro Greyhound Park. At Frank Brown Park X-game enthusiasts can witness firsthand the amazing jumps seen on television as stunt bikers hit ramps and the “Ball of Death”. Live bands will be playing at all the venues. Everyone is welcome to come out to enjoy the events and, if nothing else, gawk at some amazing bikes.
Without doubt, the Thunder Beach Spring Rally is expected to be a success. So I guess, if things go as planned, we should all head to Hallmark, get a nice big thank you card and send it to Myrtle Beach. I’ll be the first to sign it.