KINGMAN, ARIZ., APRIL 28—Out on the extreme eastern outskirts of Kingman, a stone’s throw from Historic Route 66, spitting distance from the Kingman Airport, and a world away from Casino Drive is the compound of Performance Specialists, owned and operated by go-fast guru Thomas “Kelly” Kelly and his energetic wife (and boss, we’re told) Debby. For five years they’ve been hosting a community-oriented biker event the name of which is in some dispute. Depending on whom you ask or which flyer you read it’s either “Kelly’s Super-Duper Double Wammer-Jammer Biker Palooza Extravaganza,” or simply “Kelly’s Biker Palooza.”
We prefer the former, but the most accurate name for what transpires here might be simply the Un-River Run, and that’s because its old-school attitude and slate of activities stand in stark contrast to the casino-centered doings in Laughlin. Club colors are a non-issue, for one thing, and there’s a swap meet, burnout contest, bikini bike wash, biker games replete with wienie bite and a good old-fashioned foreign bike bash on the schedule.
There’s also onsite camping and RV parking, live bands, some vendors and food and drink concessions. The beer booth is manned by the Leathernecks MC, and the victuals are plated up by the Kingman 4-H Club—with the proceeds from those sales and pretty much everything else going to support the local Boys and Girls Club.
I first attended this shindig last year, riding over from Laughlin in frigid conditions and high winds that were literally blowing vehicles off the road. Compared to that ordeal, this year’s trip is bliss, and I arrive at the compound as the party is just getting revved up, and it’s apparent that the crowd has grown appreciably since my last visit. Nice weather will do that.
I also discover that, despite the event’s counterpoints to the River Run, there is one thing the Palooza has in common with it this year, and that’s midgets. Or little people or whatever the proper term is. In any event, the band Mini Kiss is headlining over at the Tropicana and the Las Vegas Midget Wrestlers are appearing at Performance Specialists.
“I’ve reached a new low,” Kelly explains as he greets me and a pair of pint-sized dudes in leotards stroll past making the rounds of the grounds. Emerson and Little John, the suitably caped and game-faced (except for the wide grins) combatants are schmoozing the crowd and seemingly doing whatever they can to avoid actually wrestling. There’s a bounce house on the premises doing double duty as a play zone for the kids in attendance and a cage-match enclosure for the wrestlers.
And after a spell, Emerson and Little John do indeed get it on in the bounce house for a bit, but seem happiest bouncing around with the kids instead and then once again wandering the grounds like celebrities.
Kelly’s not pleased. Kelly wants his money’s worth in grappling time from these little slackers, and finally takes Little John aside to explain—
strictly in business terms—the definition of wrestling. It’s one of the damnedest confrontations I’ve ever walked in on, and trying to be helpful I suggest that we pull up the stakes on the bounce house during the next bout and let the Kingman wind have its way with the malingerers.
Out in the field beyond the compound’s back fence the biker games, conducted by the Desert Road Riders MC, get started in earnest with the wienie bite, followed by some not-so-slow races and a tire-shredding freestyle burnout contest. The best moment of the fun and games, for my money, comes when a biker dad instructs his small daughter in the techniques of walloping a helpless foreign motorcycle with a sledge hammer. He stands over her helping her wield the mall, and it’s a touching scene; it’s a time-honored transmission of biker family values to the young, and funny as hell to boot.
After three hours I have to take off back to Laughlin, and along with my fond farewells to Debby and Kelly, I offer a piece of unsolicited advice about the name of their event suggesting that instead of shortening it, as they impulsively have, to Kelly’s Biker Palooza they should lengthen it back out and then add one additional superlative to it each year going forward. Kelly listens politely and even appears to consider my brilliant plan.
So I hope to see you all next year at Performance Specialists for the 6th annual Kelly’s Bodacious Super-Duper Double Wammer-Jammer Biker Palooza Extravaganza.