BSRA #8 Woolacombe National Scooter Rally | RALLERY
On Friday the 21st of September I was waiting for the wife to finish work so we could set off, I nervously checked the weather reports and scanned the internet for traffic reports. A big storm was passing through Britain and the trip looked like it was going to be wet and windy.
Woolacombe is in North Devon, just above Barnstable and the quickest way for me to get there is by motorway and then up the A361. However, I know this route is more exposed, so I opted to take the back roads which would be slower but hopefully less risky. My missus got home about 3 pm and we quickly loaded the scooter up and left. I took it easy and we bimbled up through the backroads of Devon on our road trip. The heavy rain and strong winds had blown a lot of mud, loose leaves and debris onto the roads and you had to be careful zipping through the bends, if you hit this stuff when banked over you could skid just as easily as if you had hit diesel. Riding two up and carrying everything bar the kitchen sink I took it easy and we arrived safely around teatime.
South West Scooter Clubs
Just in case you’ve never been, the Woolacombe BSRA Rally is run by the South West Scooter Clubs and is hosted at the Golden Coast Holiday Village, which is about two miles out of the seaside town of Woolacombe. It’s a holiday park with chalets caravans and also pitches for camper vans and even tents. There’s the main entertainment block with a large dancehall, bars and a swimming pool, as well as amusements and a ten-pin bowling alley. Nearby there’s another block with a supermarket and another dancehall and bar (which was used for the Northern Soul nights). Also close to this there’s an outside, semi-covered beach bar and BBQ beside a wave surfer pool area, then further down the campsite, they have a proper pub and restaurant called the Old Mill.
The Last Resort
We soon found the chalets our lot had booked, (which were only a short walk away from the main complex) and changed out of our wet riding gear. Lots of weather-related stories were swapped and it seemed the folks who travelled up that morning had copped the worst of the weather and we had been lucky. We also found the girls had gone over to book up for next year already and found out it was already nearly sold out. As a result, we are going to be in caravans at the arse end of the site next year.
The site this year (as always) was rammed and there loads of people staying in the other two sites nearby as well, the same company owns those as well and they were running a free bus service to the main complex. It looked like it was going to be very busy tonight. We bimbled over to the main hall later on and it was indeed rammed to the rafters and there was a lot of hugging going on as people swapped funny stories about their adventures that day. There was an Oi band playing later, The Last Resort, not my cup of tea but they seemed to go down well and kept the floor filled and I can’t remember much after that, when I left, or how I got back… All I know is I woke up in the correct chalet with the correct wife and she was still speaking to me so that was a win-win and positive start to the day.
Now the weather gods, just like at Exmouth had struck again and it was pissing down, it was very windy and it was forecast to carry on like this until Sunday midday. Luckily Stu and Andy the SWSC version of Ant and Dec, had an ‘I’m a Celebrity’ style back up plan. The outdoor dealer pitches were set up in the main dancehall and would run until 4 pm when they would be cleared for the female Hypnotist Lo Reid.
The band The Rocker Covers who had been due to play at the exposed beach bar would play in the indoor Harry’s Bar next door, where staff had cleared a lot of the furniture aside to make room for them. It was also announced that the ‘happy hour’ would run until four as well, with lagers and cider all at £3 a pint. Oh and there was a tattooist set up inside near the pool as well.
Stu and Stupid
The only thing that would be outdoors was the ridden custom show and to do that they had to find two fuckwits who would brave the downpour and be the judges. Fuckwits found, namely me and Stuart, we went outside and judged those brave enough to ride their scoots down. Let me say I think they were all great and you all deserved prizes, Toby rode his Rossi PX down from Bridlington and I love his scoot but sadly on the day he went home empty-handed. The winners were as follows…
Custom show results
Best of Show: Prelude Vespa
Best Lambretta: 491 UXW Series 1
Best Vespa: Talk Talk
Best Street racer: Castrol Lambretta
Best Engineered: Widowmaker Lambretta chop
Best Cutdown/chopper: Blue Summer Lambretta
Best restoration: 960BFC Lambretta LD
Best Paint: Prelude Vespa
Best mural: Sentinal Vespa
Best Auto: MF51 MXA maxi auto with a bit of PX stuck on
On Saturday from noon the site runs a free bus service into town and me and the missus caught the first one so we could get a table at the Red Barn pub on the seafront and order some food before it got packed out with scooterists. Our plan worked and we got in and found a table easily before it got too rammed. The Red Barn is usually surrounded by hundreds of scoots, often three or four deep on the pavement and on the road but this year with the ride out cancelled there was only the odd scooter parked up and it felt strange.
Plenty came down on the buses and filled the place up though, one club from Bristol called Robins SC came all dressed as Batman’s well-known sidekick and that always seems to be the case for this rally – people just want to have fun. After our food we headed over to Captain Jacks pub, another Woolly fave for scooterists however with the beer garden out of use due to the torrential rain we found it packed solid with people trying to stay dry and it lacked its usual fun relaxed atmosphere.
Catching a bus back to the site I braved the rain to explore it, grab a few snaps and to see who I could bump into. I noticed that I didn’t see any moddy Xmas tree scoots, there had been none in the custom show either. Someone joked that comedy mods don’t ride in the rain and someone else pointed out there were still plenty of blokes wearing Marks and Sparks parkas at the rally, they had just come in their cars instead.
Saturday evening the main act in the main room was The Style Councillors, I’m not sure what kind of music they might play? I opted to go to a chalet party first. Every year the guys and gals from Company C have a chalet/caravan party, each one with a theme. Last year was Father Ted and previous years have been Mexican etc.. This year the theme was the year 1968 and it was ace. A lot of very dangerous cocktails, weird fancy dress and very dodgy music laid on by the club with the very dodgy scooters… well, Carfeys and Lobby’s anyway. It was a blast and I am not sure what I was drinking but I am told we did end up in the main do at one point but all I know is I woke up on the Sunday with a throbbing head and a bad taste in my mouth.
These days all the Bank Holiday rallies empty on Sunday, as a lot of people don’t/can’t or won’t do the full three days anymore. Woolacombe isn’t a Bank Holiday rally but lots of people DO stay for the Sunday night making it quite unique on our scene. It’s also unique as the Sunday night is classed as a fun night with a fun act headlining. Some muppets have complained that the acts are not really scooter scene related but folks that’s why it’s a hoot, don’t take it so seriously. In the past they’ve had a Mexican Mariachi band, an Elvis lookalike (who was ace), The Wurzels, Abba tribute bands and increasingly more and more people get dressed up for the day/night. Tonight it was to be Uncle Funk and the Boogie Wonderland Band, a seventies showband extraordinaire act.
Sunday fun day
Before that in the daytime and just as the rain stopped and the first rays of sunshine appeared the campsite ran a free bus service down to the other local seaside town of Ilfracombe, home to Verity a large statue created by a Mr Hirst. It’s also home to several pubs but we settled in at the Hip and Pistol who do some great food too and then from there we explored a few other local hostelries before catching a free bus back to prepare for the evening’s party…
The evening went as planned and the band was great and the audience were fantastic, so many people dressed up and it was still rammed full in the early hours of Monday morning. I laughed and cheered so much I lost my voice but it was ace. Several people have posted videos of that night on Facebook and I urge you check them out. A brilliant end to a brilliant rally… For me it’s the Sunday at Woolly that makes it.
A special thanks must go out to everyone who worked it, especially the guys and gals who did the gates in that terrible weather, as well as everyone else who did security etc. Also well done Andy and Stu your back up plan was ace, well-done guys. How about a Johnny Cash Man in Black Country night next year?
Words: Bill Mac
Loads more photos: Click page 2 (below) for Booga and Bill’s Ralleries…