ScooterExpo Alfreton 2019 | FEATURE
Well, where do we start on this one? Is it the eight months of preparation between SLUK and ScooterNova that went into the show? The countless meetings, site visits, hundreds of emails, phone calls and promotion that went into it?
Or perhaps let’s go further back when myself and Matty booked Alfreton as a National Rally for the Mansfield Monsters back in 1997, only to have the chief constable of Derbyshire kybosh it due to the local Rock & Blues Custom Show happening a few miles away on the same weekend. That cancellation lead to us joining forces with the Olympics SC and putting Cleethorpes on as a National for the next 20 years instead. I think that one went ok in the end though… Before that though we need to credit Jeff Smith and the NSRA who used Alfreton Leisure Centre for their Trade & Custom Shows from 1989 to 1991.
Anyway, let’s get on with ScooterExpo.
Other than on Nationals (and the VMSC Show), it’s quite rare to get an actual big classic scooter custom show these days. The old Doncaster shows and Peanut Duck have pretty much vanished and parts fairs took over in a big way (although they’re on the decline). A scooter rally custom show is somewhere to have a quick wander around with a hangover and see most of the same scooters time and time again. We wanted ScooterExpo to be slightly different, a place for people to come and socialise, a place where the scooters got enough space to be appreciated and where the public could wander around without being too overcrowded. We wanted a summer show where people could ride there and chill out… Ok, not everything went to plan.
It was an honour and a privilege to have so many amazing entrants. Especially the ones who haven’t shown for a while, or who dragged their customs out of retirement and in some cases had them rebuilt especially for ScooterExpo. People like Glyn Dove who rode Pseudo Satisfaction there in torrential rain from Essex (and back in the rain on Sunday). This was only the second time Glyn has worn a crash helmet since a brain haemorrhage three and a half years ago. Glyn told us “Thanks for giving me something to focus on and get back in the saddle for. That weather was something special. The weather home was shit all the way, but just a little less shit than the way up, which was fantastically shit. Got really soaked again, but the scooter did really well and the only time I needed to open my tool box door was to help a biker out who had an issue with his bike. My biggest sense of achievement was proving to myself that I am over my brain haemorrhage and that I can handle having a crash helmet on for hours – it may not seem much, but it kept me off the road for three and a half years! So thanks to you for helping me overcome this”.
Duane Matthews also battled the monsoon-like conditions to get there on ‘Stretch’ on Saturday, whilst Mick Howard rode down on Sign of the Snake in horrid weather on Sunday, as did many others. Thank you all for your commitment, without you we’d have empty rooms.
Behind the scenes
You don’t have a show of this magnitude without a few hiccups along the way. In the scorching hot week leading up to the event we had one entrant’s brand new custom with a paint reaction during the late stages of spraying, that one had to be stripped back to metal. The reincarnation of Jeremy Howlett’s Nike Racer was due to be finished but the paint on that one was nowhere near complete. A couple of entrants had issues with scooters the week before at Llandudno, one had to pull out, the other – The Greatest love of All had to have emergency engine surgery to get there. Thanks to owner Tim Lovell and Chiselspeed for pulling out all the stops. Much appreciated.
Our acoustic guitarist thought he was playing on Saturday so cancelled, thanks to Liam Wright for stepping in and filling his shoes very nicely at the last minute. My SLUK Plastics stall cancelled on Saturday due to illness (get well soon Nigel), then on the Sunday morning at 6 am our caterer, ‘Erik the Viking’ cancelled. His longboat/caravan got flooded out during the night, ruining all his electrics and appliances. Did we mention the weather? Yes it absolutely pissed it down from Friday night and hardly let up until the show was over. Roads were flooded badly enough to damage cars coming to the show, this also meant many scooter riders opted for four wheels instead (I don’t blame them at all) and gave us an extra traffic issue during the day, with vehicles clogging up surrounding roads, car parks and supermarkets. Looking on the bright side, today is a lovely sunny day…
Anyway, the show must go on.
We had six hours of setting up on Saturday, getting banners up, rooms marked out, stalls in position etc. (thanks to everybody who helped out). We also got about a third of the entrants in place, plus some of the traders. This gave us a great headstart for Sunday morning, even so it took from 7 am until the doors opened at 10 am to finish getting everything in place. 100 entrants and a load of traders takes a bit of coordination and the odd hiccup, like Ian Wilkins Rallymaster and sidecar that wouldn’t fit through the doors, so had to be put on the raised section in the foyer.
The weather forecast had been spot on and we got up to banging rain but thankfully it didn’t stop exhibitors arriving. We ended up with 98 out of 100 scooters and the two who didn’t make it had good reasons.
A steady trickle of visitors started to flow through the doors of both halls and quickly turned into a torrent. The car park was quickly overflowing and our volunteers did a sterling job of directing traffic to other parking areas. The halls were filling nicely with a nice vibe, people lounging around in the deckchairs we’d hired in especially. Our original plan was to have them scattered around the grassy area between halls 1&2, people could relax out there with a beer and listen to some live music. The weather dictated a change of plan.
We’d asked Norrie Kerr, Sticky and Chuck Swonnell to do some informal chats during the day. All legends in their own right and with a rich history in scootering circles. Unfortunately, Chuckles suffered a stroke a couple of months earlier so couldn’t come (hope you’re on the mend Chuck). We got long-distance Vespa rider, Peter Green to stand-in instead. It’s fair to say that all three guests went down well with the people who packed into the Legends room. Thanks to them all for being part of it.
Remember people, life is never infinite and as our scootering royalty get older one day their stories will be here to hear no longer. Hear them whilst you can.
It’s hard to see everybody when you’re running around an event but from the people I did get a chance to speak to the comments about the show were all very positive. Dave Dickinson of DDK fame was one of our craftsmen, he said it was “The Best show I’ve been to in years. The quality of scooters on display was amazing. The venue fantastico and the lighting and space around the scooters so that you can see them in all their glory. Brilliant.” Dave was demonstrating his airbrushing skills by painting what will be the cover of the next issue of ScooterNova Magazine whilst he was there.
We also had Slacker the pinstriper doing some of his handy work and Corky was planning to cover some seats whilst he was there but family issues meant he couldn’t attend at the last minute.
Mid-afternoon and tired out visitors and exhibitors crashed out in deck chairs whilst our young guitarist from Driffield performed a great acoustic set in each hall (well done Liam). Our final speaker, Peter Green told stories of his recent 17,000 mile ride and our volunteers helped to count up all the public votes.
ScooterExpo was never meant to be a show with dozens of awards. This was to be an art exhibition, scooters there on merit, not really to be judged by a couple of individuals with differing tastes. Instead, we had some good quality entrants medals made, so everybody went home with a nice memento and a goodie bag. However, we did have some trophies and got the entrants to vote for their four favourite custom and classic scooters. We also asked for the public to vote for their own two favourites.
Despite the weather, the show was kept busy throughout the day and all the traders seemed happy with how it had gone. Toots was running the LCGB stall and said he’d taken more than he would on a good National Rally. Lexham Insurance said they’d had a great response with plenty of potential new customers getting quotes on the day (remember them the next time you’re wanting multi scooter insurance, agreed value or a quote for your custom or modified scooter). They understand what Scooterists do and what we ride.
Cambridge Lambretta had Charlie Edmonds on hand to talk about some of the new products he’s been working on (Sticky will have more about that soon). Disco Dez was showing off the latest liquid-cooled Gran Turismo engine. VE (UK) had all the latest Malossi and Pinasco Vespa goodies on display and JB Tuning had all the Casa Performance products available. I only managed a quick run around with a camera so didn’t get much time to see what they all had on offer but if you wanted quality parts and accessories this was the place to be.
We deliberately kept trade stalls down to allow more room for the scooters to be seen from all angles, this meant we had to be a bit careful with the stalls we booked in so that we had a good selection of parts. We didn’t want to have it swamped with clothing, fancy dress paraphernalia or tat and I think it worked out very well for the public and trade.
Probably the most controversial custom scooter ever built is Dave Oakley’s Seig Heil. It’s not been out, or seen since the early 1990s. When we first announced Expo Dave got in touch and entered two chops, Exiled and his wife’s scooter, Pure SSex, which he said he’d had reworked. I knew Dave was redoing Seig Heil a decade or so ago but had given it up as a bad job so it was never finished but I asked if he’d bring the panels up to Expo. His reply was “I’ll dust off the SH panels and use them as a backdrop.”
As it happens, Dave had been working on Seig Heil (now spelt correctly unlike the original Seig Heill) for the past year and he brought the complete scooter with lots and lots of new parts and one-off bits made by Dave. The paintwork is original from 1988, just one panel was touched up and relacquered by Si Clarke. The beautiful silver on black engraving is by Adi Clark and needs seeing to appreciate it properly.
This scooter has always provoked discussion, anger, bitterness and venom. It’s also a fantastic work of art. The subject matter was never going to be to everybody’s taste and was done in the late 1980s when political allegiances were torn, the right-wing on scooter rallies was at a peak and people were blinkered towards the past. A nazi themed custom scooter is always going to set tongues wagging. To me though this scooter is as much about freedom and freedom of speech and expression as it is about glorifying war and the atrocities committed by humans. It’s a subject matter that shouldn’t be shied away from and has the right to be aired. Mankind can never learn from the past if it gets buried. Seig Heil is still doing its job 31 years later, provoking discussion, debate, anger and hate.
ScooterExpo Competitors award results
Our entrants voted for their four favourite scooters, two custom and two classic Vespas and Lambrettas.
- The Classic Lambretta award went to number 68, Ian Gregory’s lovely Lambretta Series 2 Rallymaster. An emotional Ian was overwhelmed.
- The Classic Vespa award went to number 60, Matthew ‘Babbs’ Babbington’s superb Vespa GS 160 Arc-en-Ciel dealer special.
- Custom Lambretta Award went to Dave Oakley for Exiled although there’s more to that than initially meets the eye. Dave had accidentally put Sieg Heil in the position for Exiled so the numbers on the voting slips were for the wrong scooter. Seig Heil was the real winner. Apologies for the mix up on the day.
- Best custom Vespa was a tie between Steve Leahy’s Real Gone Kid and Jason Stephenson’s Ceremony. Both competitors will receive a trophy.
ScooterExpo Showgoers awards
The general public were given the simple choice of choosing one Vespa and one Lambretta.
- Best Vespa award went to Paul Reeson’s home sprayed and built homage to The Meteors – Strange Times Are Coming.
- Best Lambretta went to number 37, a beautiful TV175 Series 2 with Pav trailer, owned by Kirk Wattis. This stunner was also Norrie Kerr’s favourite scooter on the day (incidentally Norrie’s Beautiful Vespa 50SS came second in the Vespa Showgoers choice.
We also had a raffle to win a carbon fibre NZI crash helmet, donated by VE (UK). We only have a phone number for the winner but they should have an answerphone message from us.
Thanks and the future
We’d like to thank everybody who agreed to show their scooters at ScooterExpo Alfreton. You really did make up a stunning and varied collection of scooters both classic and custom. You all deserve a big pat on the back for being there.
Also thanks to our sponsors, Putoline Oils and Lexham Insurance, plus Norrie Kerr, Sticky and Peter Green for their entertaining talks. I’d also like to thank Linsey for putting up with the stress before, during and after the show and our merry band of helpers, you all worked tirelessly to help the event run as smoothly as possible. Much appreciated. Finally, we’d like to thank you all for coming, especially on such a horrible summers day.
Lost/stolen coat & wallet
One of our traffic marshalls put his jacket down near the traffic lights whilst sorting the chaos out, it had gone when he went to retrieve it. If you happened to pick it up (a ski type jacket) please get in touch. He lost his wallet, cards and £140 in cash.
It’s the day after the show and we’ve already received loads of messages, emails and social media posts giving great feedback about the event. Once we’ve recovered from this one SLUK and ScooterNova will sit down together and see if we want to do it again. If we do we’re going to have to work hard to make it bigger and better than this one but we’ll try… Thanks for your support.
Words and photos: Iggy
Additional photos: Sticky and Ellis
Should the public decide?
ScooterExpo was the first scooter show I know of where the public and exhibitors themselves have decided who wins. It seemed popular amongst the entrants on the day and they also seemed to like the idea that they were all winners just by being there. Do you think it was a better way of judging things or not?
Should ScooterExpo be part of the 2020 calendar?
If you missed our SLUK PLastics at Expo get them here…