BSRA#4 – Big 7 National Scooter Rally 2019 | RALLERY
For the 4th year in a row, the 4th BSRA National Rally of the year was the Big 7 rally at Paddock Wood in Kent. It was actually the 8th Big 7 rally so far, but the 7th rally at the Hop Farm venue.
From the mid-80s through to the mid-90s, one of my favourite rallies was Margate. I was sad to see it dropped from the National calendar in 1996. The town made a brief National Rally comeback in 2007, and then no other National Rally visits since (smaller rallies, but no Nationals). The Inland all on one site “Big 7 rally” bears little or no resemblance to the seaside rallies at Margate from back in the day, but I mention it for a statistic that shocks me. When the Big 7 rally gained National Rally status back in 2016 it was only the 2nd National Rally in the county of Kent in two decades!
How’s that for some numbers to start with?
The Scooterists of Kent are really making up for lost time in their support for this home county rally, because it’s going from strength to strength. And, those of us that travel from further afield to it are treated very well when we arrive. This year’s main topic was the scorchio weather; the rally campsite checkpoint saw some seriously over warm scooters and riders flooding through the gates from Friday mid-morning onwards. Lots of European scooterists travel to this event, and this year was no exception.
The Hop Farm site has superb facilities, with numerous food vendors, bars, a restaurant, a café, a pub, very decent brick built toilet and shower blocks, and five or so Music rooms/tents. There is also a stack of traders and scooter spares stalls. The small town of Paddock Wood is also very near for any other supplies needed over a rally weekend. This year’s rally had the added luxury of some pre-erected posh glamping type wigwams. Riders were able to pre book one, and thus avoid having to carry any camping luggage. I thought it was a bit gimmicky, but having looked inside one, they did look good; far better than any guest house I’ve ever stayed in at Morecambe rallies!
Scooter rally Friday afternoons fast become a blur for me, and when camping in a field it is very easy to lose all track of time. But, from teatime onwards, the music was pumping and very varied with around a dozen or so DJs battling it out in different tents and rooms to keep the punters happy. Among the traditional scooter sounds, there’s always good support for the progressive electronica Darkside sounds too. Ironically, it is modern music played by some very old school hard-core scooterists; good lads they are too (well some of them)! Friday’s live bands were The Corsairs (rockabilly punks) very loud very good. Secret Affair (Mod revival legends) as if they need any explaining to any scooter enthusiast and Orange Street (if Ska and two-tone is your thing, these lot will have you skanking all night). The only drawback with all this jumping about was the night got hotter and hotter and even at tent time the campsite was uncomfortably hot.
Saturday morning started far too early for most people with scooters being revved and repaired at a stupid hour and then the whole day’s shenanigans start again. I joined a constant stream of riders heading out for more supplies, and found that all bagged frozen ice had sold out within an 8 mile radius of the rally. As scooterists we endure some cold wet journeys at times, but this weekend was fast becoming melting hot. The campsite was split at lunchtime, with people lining up to take part in the organised ride out, and the sadists putting beloved scooters on the dyno (free to all entrants); good entertainment for the masses, but mechanically merciless on a day that hot!
The custom show had 16 trophies up for grabs; some rolling works of art, as is the norm nowadays, (see the gallery); but for me, my favourites were the ones I also pictured last month at Kelso and Weston rallies. Serious riders on serious machines, – you know who you are – and for that reason, I salute you, and the miles you ride!
You know a rally is well attended when all the merchandise sells out by Saturday early afternoon!
The show trophy presentation was at 4pm, and the dyno finished at 5pm. It was at this point my good friend and travelling companion Billy Buckley decided to burst into song on the main stage “In a happy birthday to me style”. What better way to celebrate his 50th birthday than among fellow scooterists. Billy (Bill to his mates), is without doubt one of the nicest guys in scootering and he’s also nothing short of a scooter building genius. The sooner he opens his newly built scooter repair shop, in the North East of England the better – or so say all his customers.
Saturday evening started the same as Friday evening with duelling DJs and more live bands; OHASIS (superb tribute to the Manc legends) Heavy Sol (5 piece mod kings, very cool) and King Salami (they blew the roof off). I will track these guys down and pay to see them again… My night ended in the Old School tent. DJ Dave Lloyd is a bad man – he played the kind of 80s music I hated as a Scooter Boy in the ’80s. But now, nearly a week on, I can’t get those tunes out of my head.
Walking across a campsite late at night its usually tents you trip over, but on this occasion it was bodies – people sleeping outside of tents in an attempt to keep cool overnight.
Sunday morning arrives in a heartbeat, and the mass travelling circus of misfits start to decamp for home – most making plans to meet up and do the same again soon. The people I personally waved off all said the only comment I needed to hear “See you at Llandudno BSRA No5 in a few weeks”.
Over the past few years, the Big 7 rally has had quite a lot of criticism on the internet for the number of four-wheelers attending. The never ending, and frankly boring, debate regarding cars vans and motor homes on rallies drags us all down. But, I’m willing to bet this rally has considerably less non-scooters in attendance than a lot of other large rallies. In the adjoining fields to this venue there is a car boot sale, a caravan club site, and an area for storing brand new and second-hand cars from a dealership. Many of the moaners/critics often see pictures of these vehicles in the background of rally photos (on Facebook and the likes) and assume, that they’re all there for the scooter rally, and completely overlook the fact that most of the vehicles just happen to be in neighbouring fields to the scooter rally. The Big 7 Scooter Club positively encourage attending by scooter, and charge extra money for those not on a scooter.
This rally, if my facts are correct, started in a pub beer garden with a few hundred people back in 2012. Since then it has grown into a mega rally that has generously given £20,000 to charity over the years. Maybe your scooter club may go on to be the next Big 7. Is your club do the next big National? Why not contact the Kent scooter alliance for advice on a proven formula that works?
The SINGLE and ONLY thing I don’t like about this rally is the tongue in cheek tag line “If you missed it you’re a twat”. People miss out on/or don’t attend rallies for all manner of reasons, but in my honest opinion, if you do miss Big 7 rally you really are missing out. The £20 admission fee is money extremely well spent, and it has put an area of the UK well and truly back where it belongs in the major league scooter rally calendar. This event is for Scooterists and their families and not a cheap alternative weekend for festival goers.
The rally organisers invite all open minded Scooterists to attend.
They say “Ride safe, Play safe and then Keep the Faith…”
You can’t say fairer than that SLUKers.
Here’s hoping for Big7 2020
Images: Col and Booga
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