REPORT: Oddballs Rally
Coincidence or not? It’s rather fitting that Oddballs rally takes place at a rugby club, given the strange shape of what egg-chasers play their game with!
Good vibrations, mad hatters and oddballs.
Get ahead – get a hat
Following the death of a friend in 2015, Vince Wooloff organised the inaugural Oddballs rally. The aim was to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust by holding a scooter rally which included a weekend of fun, entertainment and a custom show. Abingdon Rugby Club with clubhouse and sizable grounds has hosted all three annual Oddballs rallies. The rally name has no connection whatsoever with Rugby however. It was taken from a memorable character in the Second World War comedy film Kelly’s Heroes.
The previous two rallies had taken place early in the season when the weather reverted to winter temperatures. This year the event was moved to August; not a decision taken lightly as from Easter onwards there are inevitable clashes with other events. It was a gamble, albeit a calculated one, as social media gave a decent indication of whether switching the time of year would be supported. It turned out to be a good call, with more than three times the amount of Oddballers through the gates compared to last year.
Berets and trilbys
Gates opened at 2pm on Friday with a steady trickle that turned into a torrent of scooterists as the afternoon wore on and then two separate groups of bikers arrived enquiring if they were welcome, which of course they were!
With advance weekend tickets priced at £15, on the gate tickets cost £20 plus the very reasonably priced bar in the clubhouse – pocket-friendly is almost an understatement. For those wanting to top up their skin art, a local tattooist was on site in a dedicated room in the clubhouse. A one-off Vespa custom chop was first prize in the raffle; at £5 a ticket there were plenty taking a punt! The few restrictions that applied to the weekend consisted of rules such as only consuming alcohol bought from the bar in the clubhouse and fenced area. Of course, bringing your own for consumption on the camp and rally site was absolutely fine.
Partying with friends and acquaintances was evident across the site and included restaurant size barbecues, flags, themed tents and seating areas. Pop up traders took over a whole side
of the pitch with food of several different varieties, new and vintage clothing and second-hand scooter parts outlets. For this year’s rally, the live music marquee was bigger and faced outwards across the site. During the day a variety of DJs supplied an eclectic mix of tunes from a booth next to the clubhouse, moving into the clubhouse later in the evening. Live music on Friday came from, chronologically: Filthy Spectacular with their brand of steam punk, No Lip providing raw n’ raucous punk, and topping the bill, Oddballs rally veterans The Corsairs serving up rocking psychobilly. Concluding Friday night’s festivities was the Dance of the Dead, (DJs celebrating the music of artists no longer with us, including Bowie, Queen, The Clash, Amy Winehouse and many others) an apt choice, as by this time navigating back to the campsite appeared like an out-take from Zombie Apocalypse.
Flat caps and bowlers
Saturday began with the sun beating down, although the forecast was for storms later in the day. Full English brekkie for £5, in the clubhouse, was an offer taken up by many. From early on more and more scooterists were arriving. The Custom Show took place on the main rugby pitch. By late morning, three sizable and lengthy rows of an eclectic mix of machines were on display. Radical chops, rusterations, restored, unrestored, full blown customs, street racers, rats, autos and more than a few oddities provided an amazing spectacle. Plenty there to catch the eye and turn heads, including a pristine 1951 Model C Lambretta ridden down from Lancashire, a journey made over two leisurely days. Alan, the owner, said he also has a restored Model D.
Andy Martin’s vintage Puch SR150 attracted a serious amount of attention. As did a proper oddity, which was a two wheeled scaled down model based on a 1950s Morris Oxford car, powered by a Vespa engine, with handlebars instead of a steering wheel. A trio of street racers had petrolheads buzzing around them; there was a T5 in Ducati livery that had been used as pit lane transport for team Ducati in France, a simple but stunning yellow GP with a Super Monza motor. Nik Paloucci’s jet black 210 P-range, Dirty Magic, with a liquid-cooled head plus other power enhancing items was surrounded by admirers.
Beanies and panamas
Around midday, the earlier blazing August sunshine was obliterated by filthy dark clouds overhead. It looked like the predicted storms had arrived. Somehow a mere, minimal five-minute sprinkle was all that descended. The Oddballs theme this year was mad hatters, with participants invited to wear wacky headgear, culminating in a mad hatters parade with some truly innovative entries. The ride out at 2.30pm was organised by Lambretta Chopper Owners Club. The route took in several picturesque South Oxfordshire villages, finishing at Abingdon’s historic market square. Unfortunately, as the ride out participants were mustering another wave of black clouds rolled in overhead. This time the rain did come down, albeit for a short time, which dampened the enthusiasm of some to take part. Trophy presentations, the hot-wings challenge, followed by live bands completed the daytime happenings on the site.
Sombreros and top hats
Saturday night live acts were 2Tone AllSkas, ska punk from Black Max and The Pirates and guitar popsters Get Ready. Other options were to bounce the night away in the inflatable disco dome or watch classic cult films on the clubhouse patio wall. Sunday was basically a chill down session with no rush to leave.
Around 1500 went through the gates of Oddballs. People travelled from as far afield as Scotland and France with in excess of £9000 raised for charities! There is still, (at the time of writing), an auction for the main Oddballs rally backdrop, adorned with participating clubs and band logos to add to the total. Scotty’s Little Soldiers received £1000, with the remainder going to Teenage Cancer Trust. All credit to Vince and the Oddballs rally team. The event retains the intimacy of being as much a party as a rally while raising funds for worthy causes. Next year Oddballs is on the weekend of August 10 and the theme is pirates. See Facebook page for more information. Words: Sarge
Photographs: Sarge and Gill Moore