The small town where I live in southern Oregon isn’t exactly a hotbed for motorcycle events. Don’t get me wrong. There’s incredible roads and epic scenery for both street and dirt riding. But there isn’t any so-called scene to speak of. Thank goodness for Mark Daley of Thunder Struck Customs
For the last 18 years, Daley has held an annual bike show and street party in Medford, Oregon. Much more than that, proceeds from the event go to The Boys and Girls Clubs of Jackson County. This year’s Thunder Struck Xtreme Bike Show and Street Party raised approximately $19,000 for the Boys and Girls Club while money raised during its 18-year run approached the $200,000 mark.
“I wait all year for the show,” wrote local Steve Maartenze on the Thunder Struck Facebook page.
He’s not the only one. Motorcycles filled the streets of downtown Medford as bikers came from around the region to have some fun and support the cause. Despite the heat of a late summer day, Daley said turnout was great and that 2014 was one of the best shows yet. People cooled off at the beer garden or with a frosty margarita from Habanero’s while others thumbed their noses at the heat and danced in the street as live music filled the air.
Around 90 motorcycles competed in over 20 categories for “Best of Class” honors, from flame-flecked FXRs to ground-skirting baggers with air ride suspension. Even local artisan Randy Grubb got in on the action, Grubb a master craftsman who built “The Blastolene Special” that Jay Leno bought for his private collection and then dubbed “Tank Car” because it’s powered by an M47 Patton Tank engine. Plenty of sweet hot rods filled the gaps in between. Meanwhile, 50/50 drawings and raffles helped keep energy levels high. We overheard the lucky winner of a Smirnoff grill chuckling as he walked by with his prize as he wondered how he was going to get it home on his bike.
Master metal craftsman Randy Grubb made the short trip over from Grants Pass with one of his shiny hot rod creations.
Daley's right-hand-man Travis Linebaugh is a mean wrench in his own right.
Not everybody has the time or resources to go to big rallies like Sturgis, making grass-roots events like Thunder Struck’s annual street party that much more vital to small communities as fosters of the biker lifestyle. The fact that all proceeds benefit local children once again demonstrates the big-heartedness of bikers.
But don’t think Thunder Struck is a small-time operation. Daley’s talents are world-class, his work capturing second place in the AMD World Championships
in Sturgis and top honors in Las Vegas’ “Artistry in Iron” show, a competition voted on by bike building peers. We got to witness him convert a stock Harley Road Glide into a hot rodded showpiece in the Motorcycle Superstore Bagger
, a bike that now calls the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Ohio home. Of course, none of this would be possible without his right-hand-man, Travis Linebaugh, an accomplished wrench in his own right. What’s more impressive is the fact that the talented duo are some of the most approachable, humblest people around.
Many thanks to Thunder Struck and all the sponsors who made the 18th annual Xtreme Bike Show and Street Party a success. Though we’re a couple years out, we can’t wait to see what the 20th annual show will bring.