Born To Be Wild: Night Flight featured highlights from the very first Easyriders Motorcycle Rodeo

By on November 20, 2018

On Sunday, January 18, 1987, an estimated five thousand bikers, biker babes and motorcycle enthusiasts of all kinds spent a lovely smoke & dust-choked afternoon at the Ventura County Fairgrounds for the first annual Easyriders Motorcycle Rodeo, which Night Flight featured in this special episode that originally aired on July 8, 1988.

Watch this Easyriders magazine featurette — which tells you all need to know about “the modern day cowboys of the American Highway!” — on Night Flight Plus.


This 20-minute long Easyriders Motorcyle Rodeo featurette — featuring a musical score by the Doors’ Robby Krieger — gave attendees an up-close and personal look at the various rodeo contests that took place in the rodeo pit, including the Weenie Bite, a couples competition, where riders try to see which biker babe could take the biggest bite of mustard-slathered hot dog hanging from a string.


Other events included the tire pull, where the rider pulls a partner on a tire to one end of the stadium and the partner runs back in a foot race.

There was also the Barrel Race, the Slow Race — where riders see who can maneuver their bike the slowest through a narrow course without putting their feet on the ground for balance — the Motorcycle Tug O’ War and the Keg Derby, the Wet T-Shirt contest, the Trophy Girl contest, the Potato Haystack and the always popular Barstool Races, in which they race –- you guessed it — a motorized barstool against friends and strangers through a winding track bordered by hay bales.


The rodeo also featured a midway, where vendors in booths manned by motorcycle professionals, builders, parts & accessories manufacturers, riding gear, leathersmiths and jewelry designers selling their unique motorcycle-related products to attendees.


The crowned king of 1987’s Easyriders Motorcycle Rodeo that year was the renowned motorcycle racing legend Ray “Rodeo Ray” Tewksbury from Tampa Bay, Florida.


The motorcycle rodeo was a huge hit and has since become an annual adults-only event that now hits the road each year paying visits to dozens of towns and cities across the country.

Read more about the Easyriders Motorcycle Rodeo below.


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David Mann, circa 1972

One of the more interesting figures in the world of motorcycle art was artist David Mann, “the biker world’s artist-in-residence.”


Mann had answered an ad in the back of Easyriders in 1971 when the publication printed a Want Ad saying they were looking for a motorcycle artist. His memorable work began regularly appearing in the magazine as of 1972.

Here’s David Mann’s two-page spread depicting what he apparently witnessed first-hand at the 1987 Easyriders Motorcycle Rodeo in Ventura (this was featured a month later, in the magazine’s February 1987 issue).


Mann continued doing artwork for Easyriders for the rest of his life, with center spreads beginning in 1973.

He continued creating this highly-personalized art, depicting the lifestyle he lived, until he retired in 2003 in poor health. He died, a day after his 64th birthday, the following year.

Each year, the David Mann Chopperfest pays tribute to the man that many consider “the epitome of the biker artist” with a series of activities, held at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.


Easyriders motorcycle magazine (“Entertainment for Adult Bikers”) was founded in 1970, and they published their first issue in June 1971.

The magazine — which pretty much continues to be dedicated to bikers, babes and booze ads — features articles on the outlaw motorcycle subculture, including articles about customized cycles, tattoo art and various other topics of interest to the outlaw biker.


Oh, and let’s not forget, all those pictorials of scantily clad and/or nude or topless biker babes, often sitting on Harleys and other types of motorcycles.

As far as we know, Easyriders is still being published each month — or, at least you can still subscribe to it for monthly digital access — from their offices at Paisano Publications in Agoura Hills, located down the road apiece some thirty miles or so from the Ventury County Fairgrounds.


The Ventura County Fairgrounds — located at 10 W. Harbor Blvd. in Ventura, CA, which sits along U.S. Route 101 about ten miles north of Malibu, and seventy miles northwest of Los Angeles — was one of the three sites recently set up by the Red Cross where victims from the currently still blazing Woolsey and Hill fires can go for much-needed assistance.


The fairgrounds is also being used a large animal evacuation center, where residents have been bringing their horses, and acting as an evacuation center for displaced residents.

It also continues to be used as a staging ground for the emergency support vehicles that come from all over the western half of the United States to help fight these Southern California wildfires (this particular photo shows the fire trucks that were used to fight the Thomas Fire — no relation to the author of this blog — in December 2017).


Watch the Easyriders Motorcycle Rodeo featurette in this special 1988 episode of “Night Flight,” now streaming on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.