As a child, biker gangs always fascinated me. I remember on dull motorway journeys I’d occasionally get excited when a gang was spotted. They would pass in tight formation, hanging onto their tall ‘ape hanger’ bars, showing no care or respect for others. You’d always hear them before you could see them and as they passed, the roar of rolling thunder would echo through the car as each biker, all dressed in black would bolt past. It seemed my BMX would not cut it after such a sighting.
My intrigue led me onto the classic yet controversial novel titled ‘Hells Angels’ by Hunter S. Thompson. To this day an early line would reflect my childhood memory of these rumbling riders. “like Genghis Khan on an iron horse, a monster steed with a fiery anus, flat out through the eye of a beer can and up your daughter’s leg with no quarter asked and none given”.
Later, I would abandon my BMX to get my own motorbike, however, I was never part of any club or gang. I was curious as a young boy and still am now, maybe it’s my connection to bikes or the appeal of a rouge brotherhood, looking after their own interests.
The Bulldog Bash was an annual motorcycle rally which took place on Long Marston Airfield in Stratford upon Avon. It started with a small group of Hells Angels back in 87’ and had grown into one of the largest motorcycle festivals in Europe. It was organised and policed by the Hells Angels, and drew chapters from around the country to run the event. Every year it attracted around 40,000 people across the four-day event including bikers, motorcycle clubs, and spectators.
For two years I visited the Bulldog Bash to document the event and culture; a rally that is as much about the motorbikes as it is the bash, after all, the slogan boasts ‘Fight for your right to Party’. Sadly, in 2017, the Bulldog Bash came to an end due to the sale of the land. Some of these images made were from that final Bash.
The rally was focused around a quarter mile drag strip, an impressive dual race lane daubed in burnt rubber, where anyone with a motorbike can race as fast as their machine will take them. Depending on the setup of the bike, the sound can be deafening. Bikers wait, as the next pair move forward to do the customary burnout. ‘Burning out’ the tires is crucial to gain maximum grip and optimum acceleration.
A custom bike show showcases all the best bike builds from chromed out choppers to beautifully restored BSA’s, it’s a true spectacle of engineering. For £3 you can view the famous ‘Wall of Death’ show where four stuntmen and women ride the circular wall as they defy gravity. The cramp viewing tent reeks of engine fumes and as they ride by the whole structure vibrates and rattles. Amongst the leather waistcoat and belt buckle stalls are ‘HA only’ tattoo tents and live music bellows from the main arena. A funfair illuminates the evening skies and a 24hr drinking bar keeps the punters hydrated. In the evening when the racing stops, the Adult Zone opens for business and intoxicated bikers attempt hits from Thin Lizzy to Alice Cooper on the karaoke stage.
This project focuses on the people, characters and faces that attend the Bulldog Bash; all of which attribute to my childhood memory of the modern-day Genghis Khan.