Honda Hoot 2002

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What do you get when you put almost 200 vendors and 14,000 riders together in a big southern city with lofty, green peaks, a national park, crashing white-water rapids, and twisties more crooked than Richard Nixon? A real big Hoot. That's what.
Honda pulled off another great event this year in Knoxville, TN, proving yet again that the southern Appalachians, with their one-two punch of great roads and Mayberry hospitality is about as resistible to touring riders as firelight to a mosquito. Everyone from wing-dingers to leather-clad BMW fans to big ol' hog lovers swarmed in and around Knoxville from June 19th to the 22nd for the annual Honda Hoot, and the event was a shining example of how to host and organize a big, classy rally.

Included in the pre-registration fee were maps and tours of the best roads in the area (see our Fall '02 story: Easy Does It - East Tennessee), demo rides for adults and children, shows and exhibitions, admission to all the vendor areas, and foot-stompin' hoedowns every night. Rally-goers could also take matters into their own hands if they were interested in Dollywood, white-water rafting, fishing, hiking, dancing or enjoying the southern cuisine - which was typically mouthwatering barbecue infused with some southern boy's generations-old sauce.

As for the roads, the Dragon's Lair - 318 corners crammed into 11 miles - is only a short ride to the southeast of Knoxville. Need we say more? The demo rides were well-organized, and filled up quickly, so if you want to go next year, make sure you show up early to capitalize on the first-come, first-served rule. Offering rides were Honda, Kawasaki, Aprilia, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, and Buell; all of which leaves a bit to be desired when considering some of the big players were unaccounted for: Triumph, Ducati, and Harley-Davidson. And while the wing-dingers loyalty to their chariots is legendary, Honda only brought Wings and the VTX for test rides. C'mon, boys - you've got some sweet machines and you should show them off! Regardless, the Honda scouts did their homework on the many back roads of east Tennessee, and participants gassed through some thrilling turns on some of the oldest pathways in the United States.

Back in Knoxville everyone escaped the midday heat at the Expo, but demos and exhibitions were scheduled every afternoon and drew most of the crowd from the vendor areas. The heat didn't stop beating down until at least 5:30, and Honda could have pushed the show times back a bit to make outdoor events a shade cooler. In the rush not to miss the shows, some participants probably felt too overwhelmed to really enjoy a stroll through the Expo, what with a Coke in one hand and a cheese steak in the other, and looking at a million things they can't afford but simply must have.

Overall, the events at the rally were well-organized, on time, and crowd control was never a problem. And Honda couldn't have done it without the city of Knoxville and the state of Tennessee to back them up. The police shared the same hospitality found throughout the area: they were very helpful and the troopers (believe it or not, Ripley) were smiling throughout the week. All signs indicate next year will be nothing less than another a-one Hoot.