SLUK @ Isle of Wight Scooter Rally 2017 | RALLERY
Is the IoW scooter rally the UK’s biggest and best or simply a circus of cashing-in? Sticky investigates for SLUK…
If you have scooters in your soul then you can’t help but feel your heartbeat rev a little faster as you board a ferry surrounded in a haze of 2-stroke smoke. Admittedly the ‘purity’ of that smoke and sound is certainly becoming ever more diluted, as Vespa GTS, Scomadis and quite a breathtaking number of AJS Modena scooters mingle with the stinkwheels. On the plus side, it made it a whole lot easier to breathe when scooterists started their engines, before the Red Funnel ferry entered Cowes more smoothly than James Herriot’s fist.
It’s been several years since I last visited the Isle of Wight rally: an event I always loved despite its numerous detractors. In the meantime, the event has been through something of an organisational upheaval as VFM stopped hiring the morgue-like Ice Rink as a venue and instead ran all their events direct on Smallbrook Stadium (or ‘Smallpox’ as it is nicknamed by those with tent-peg-phobia). I wondered how this change would affect the equilibrium of the rally.
Virgins broken in
In our merry group were two fresh virgins, riding down from Warwickshire on their own scooters for the first time. I rode with my son Sam, fresh from CBT on Wednesday, setting off 150-miles on his 50cc Lambretta Lui. Meanwhile my better half chaperoned our friend Zara on her recently-acquired powder-blue Scomadi. Say what you like about automatics, but they improve accessibility to our scene for riders who both plan to move onto geared scooters in the future. You’ve got to start somewhere, and this was in at the deep end for both of them.
Sam’s Lui rattled its electric start battery to bits in Southampton and Chris split a powerjet hose, so our first stop was to the endearingly-named Dave Death Motorcycles in Newport who were more than helpful.
Scattered to the four winds
As seems traditional now, Isle of Wight was blessed with sunshine throughout the daylight hours of the whole event, and at night illuminated by the radiant glow of fully-recharged ginger folks. They have luminous acid for blood, you know…
For me one of the enduring problems of IoW is simply that there’s too much to see in too little time and too spread out. Some of our group ended up in Shanklin, others in Sandown, we had digs in Ryde while at least 1400 people camped at Smallpox. You can view this as a curse or a blessing – all accommodation options and affordabilities are catered for, but not necessarily within 10 miles of each other.
Too much (Pressure) choice
The problem of an over-abundance of options was obvious more in terms of the entertainment available. Too many promoters now scrabble for the scooterist dollar, diluting the turnout and atmosphere in every venue. In July, Hipshaker pulled out of IoW. Meanwhile Visual Impact seem firmly ensconced in the Balcony Bar, offering a selection of live acts headlined by excellent Small Fakers on Friday and The Beat (Dave Wakeling version) on Saturday.
Even on the campsite the choice was excessive, with a separate Soul Marquee as well as mixed music in the Clubshack backed up by live acts in the main hall. Basket Case worked hard as ever to get everyone on board by the time they got to Nellie the Elephant. Who knew that the Toy Dolls would predict the rise of Hamster-haired US presidential goon with the lyrics “Trumpety Trump Trump Trump”?
The Extra Specials followed Basket Case, but there’s only so much Two Tone Tributism I can stand before I feel the need to stick dancing ska men graphics onto a Lexmoto Milano and buy a pork pie hat made from recycled paper.
While the party people may not have been dancing, they were on site in force. To a man, all of those staying on the campsite told me that they had the best IoW rally for ages with a great vibe on Smallbrook; particularly in the daytime. Meanwhile those who spent Friday in Ryde reported it to be very quiet around the pubs.
The Brighton effect
The Nelly in the room for promoters is the pull of the Untouchables Brighton weekenders, spun off long ago to cater for the cooler end of the Mod spectrum and now becoming a victim of their own success in terms of attracting ‘undesirables’ as much as Untouchables.
What IoW has over Brighton, if you ignore being reamed by the ferry pirates, is a much more pleasant place to ride around, without the nose-to-tail traffic nonsense of the mainland. The island council also appear to have fixed most of the roads since I was last there, so it was a pleasure to ride with my Son up over the illogically-named Downs in the sun, just as I first did in 1984 when I was 16. To me the IoW has always felt more like a Mediterranean holiday and less like a scooter rally. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that…
Of course this touring meant missing the custard show, but you’ll find the results at the bottom of the page. Like I said; too much to do and not enough time.
Saturday evening was spent in Ryde, after a wonderful spell scooter-watching on the Green and a brief intermission to help Sam. In his rush to fit a full scootering career into a single week he’d managed to put 2 litres of diesel into his Lambretta at Tescos. Not that I can tell him off, as anyone who’s read my Frankenstein Scooters to Draculas Castle book will know only too well.
Unlike Friday, the pubs in Ryde were now overflowing onto the street, just as I remembered, but even without Hipshaker it still felt like too many venues were fighting over too few clientele.
Thankfully classic scooters still remain in the clear majority, and there were still a few special ones about. Andy Barnes spotted a turbo-charged Lambretta project in Ryde with a sign on it saying that it was still in development and not to ask questions. After 10 minutes examining the details, Andy asked why the turbo was on the tailpipe rather than in the downpipe, only to be receive the retort “can’t you read?”
Funnily enough, after German scooterist/engineer Andre Prager built his 42hp Turbo Vespa over a decade ago, he ended up getting a job with Space X in USA on their moonshot programme. With manners like that, I suspect the owner of this Lambretta might not do the same.
Of course the highlight for many is the Sunday ride-out, still starting from the Nice Rink, but now sadly without the guiding hand of dearly-departed Tony Class and ending at the Campsite rather than in Shanklin.
This parade, for that is essentially what it is, seems to get more carnival-like every time. We had the Town Crier ringing us off Ryde seafront, people in gardens waving Union flags and stranded motorists reluctantly waving to half an hours worth of scooters.
It is easy for purists to sneer at some of the dubious fashions on display – but as I followed a lad on an AJS Modena riding along and high-fiving pedestrians along Sandown seafront I realised that he was having the time of his life. This is as close as many on that ride will ever get to being a rock star.
VIDEO: IoW 2017 rideout by Andrew Booth
Sunday night, quite unexpectedly, turned out to be the best on the island, in fine company at the Crown at the top of Ryde hill. Many of those sat around the table had, like me, been coming to the IoW rally for over three decades and formed strong friendships due to weekends like this and a shared love of Italian shopping bikes.
It’s true enough that many shops around Ryde had scooters in the window and even the charity shops seemed to drip in scooter clichés, but you don’t have to buy any of the tat that’s on sale. If you can look beyond, there’s still a ton of fun to be had on IoW.
One day we’ll have to grow up. Let’s hope it isn’t soon.
Additional pics by Tracy, Simon Plant, Booga and Col
Rallery by Sticky & Tracy
Rallery by Simon Plant
Col’s custom compendium
VFM* – Isle of Wight Saturday 26TH August 2017 WINNERS
First Time Entrant
Sweet TV 633 UJX
Rallymaster 694 UYL
Rob Pettinger Memorial Trophy
NORTHUMBRIA SCOOTER SERVICES
Lambretta Chopper Owners Club
LD AVV 57 SHO 175
SW SCOOTER CLUBS
X900 The Beast
Best Ridden Scooter
Northern Gary Cordon Memorial
Street Racer LAMBRETTA
Rule Britannia S Type
DISTANT ECHO SC
ON TWO WHEELS
GP200 Series 5 Frank Sanderson
S.I.P SCOOTER CENTRE
Lambretta Choppers Owners Club
Champion of Champions
J BOLLAND MEMORIAL TROPHY
STRANTON EAGLES VC
Rally MGU 57P
GS 979 UYM
ALL OR NOTHING SC COVENTRY
GS 979 UYM
Vespa owners club
Steve Bywater Memorial Trophy
Auto Chop 128 UXU
Mansfield Monsters SC
SX200 HTL 92D
A TOUCH OF GLASS
LD AVV SHO 175
Shiny 5 SX
Best of Show
£50 CASH PRIZE
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