More than 30,000 motorcycle enthusiasts visited downtown Wichita on June 10-11 to take part in the second Tornado Rally, an event sponsored by Kansas-based Big Dog Motorcycles.
Although Big Dog Motorcycles was the presenting sponsor of the rally, the event was for all motorcycle enthusiasts, regardless of brand-affiliation. Approximately 15,000 visitors attended the 2005 inaugural event.
The dramatic increase in attendance was complemented with an equally substantial increase in exhibitors and vendors. Activities and attractions took place under sunny skies along five city blocks near Big Dog’s 175,000 square foot headquarters and included approximately 100 vendors, celebrity custom builders, six free concerts, charity poker runs, factory tours, trials display, bikini contest and more. ESPN2 was on site to capture the event for a national television segment to air later this summer.
“We are extremely thrilled with the success of the rally,” said Paul Hansen, marketing director, Big Dog Motorcycles. “Even more awesome is that numerous states and motorcycle types and brands were represented, making the Tornado Rally a true national event.”
The two-day rally required a staff of nearly 150 Big Dog employees and a full nine months to plan. “You work with government, businesses, and numerous suppliers and vendors. Plus, you need to organize volunteers and other resources, plan for emergencies, and plan marketing and promotion,” Hansen told Powersports Business.
“Wichita has always been supportive of Big Dog Motorcycles and so community response was excellent. The government, businesses and neighbors were extremely supportive and very willing to accommodate our requests and needs and to work with us to make sure the event went well.”
“It is impossible to adequately thank the employees for their long hours, hard work and unlimited energy,” said Sheldon Coleman, company founder and CEO. “I’m elated they take so much pride in Big Dog Motorcycles, the city of Wichita and the Tornado Rally.”
The third annual Tornado Rally is set for June 9-10, 2007. Big Dog’s thoughts for next year's event?
“We have a goal of 40,000 to 50,000 attendees and 150 vendors, and we plan to use input from the city, employees and vendors to make it even better,” Hansen said.
The Tornado Rally was presented and hosted by Big Dog Motorcycles with the help of Dodge, Budweiser, Jack Daniel’s, Coca-Cola, Castrol Motor Oil and PPG.
In other Big Dog news, the company also unveiled its 20,000th motorcycle and named its 100th dealer.
“It took five years to hit a thousand bikes and just seven years to build 19,000 more,” said Nick Messer, company president.
Big Dog Motorcycles, LLC, started production in 1994. The company’s 300 employees now produce approximately 5,000 motorcycles per year.
“The company has exceeded my wildest expectations,” said Coleman. “I had no idea even three years ago that we would be where we are today. Our strategy is simple: Keep our focus on building great motorcycles and maintain our dedication to our customers, dealers and employees.”
The celebrated motorcycle is a 2006 K-9 with a midnight sapphire frame and custom patriotic graphics. A patriotic theme has donned all commemorative motorcycles. The bike also sports a 20,000th icon on each side of the tank.
The company’s 100th dealer, Lifestyle Custom Cycles in Anaheim, Calif., is the most recent and the 18th named in the past year.
“Our ongoing expansion of our dealer base effectively demonstrates our ability to bring the right products to the market backed by the best dealer programs and customer support,” said Messer, who oversees Big Dog Motorcycles' dealer recruitment efforts.
Copyright 2006 Powersports Business