Words Scott Bishop
Supercross is back for another year and that means one thing: what’s the halftime show? Over the past 30 years of Australian supercross there have been all sorts of time fillers, time wasters, crowd entertainers and freak shows to keep people from choking on their beers and hotdogs. Let’s take a look at the more memorable things kept people from mindless boredom.
NICK THE NOISE
Just when you were after some peace and quiet during the interval of a noisy indoor supercross, out struts a guy in black with a microphone and cranks up the volume to Spinal Tap levels. Nick the Noise was basically a sound effects guy in the same vein as Michael Winslow (the guy in the Police Academy movies) who had a couple of questionable jokes tied into his self-generated sound effects of planes, helicopters and machine guns. It was like listening to an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie without seeing it.
I don’t recall it being particularly funny but he did last a couple of seasons, so someone must have been getting his jokes. No idea where he is now and no idea if Nick was even his real name, but he was noisy and no one barnstormed the track trying to get him off, so I can only assume he was mildly entertaining.
When Nick ran out of noises and had milked those three sound effects for a good couple of years, the supercross promoters decided to leave the public in peace during interval. Bad call! Suddenly the race program became a design sheet for paper aeroplanes and just seconds after the race prior to the interval finished, down coasted the first paper F-111 built in the crowd.
By the time racing was ready to go again, the track was a paper aeroplane airport with thousands of planes on the track. Design and build quality weren’t high on the design list, but flight time was. One night in the Sydney Entertainment Centre, a particularly rickety contraption took flight from the very back row. As it glided silently towards the track, the crowd was mesmerised. Once it passed the front row and was out into the track infield, the joint erupted. Eight thousand fans cheered themselves hoarse over this paper plane, the racing was an anticlimax and the plane’s builder was up for a NASA contract.
What do you think would happen if you supplied five or six professional riders with CT90s that weren’t theirs and told them to have a race and entertain the crowd? If you guessed an ego-fuelled race to the death, you’re wrong. It was nothing more than a demolition derby on motorcycles and it was a miracle that no pro rider was seriously injured.
The bikes started out in pretty good shape but as the years wore on the damage budget shrank considerably and it was pretty much a zip-tie and duct tape servicing schedule. Worse, riders were doing it themselves.
I once lined up a fellow rider, who I considered a postie specialist and I still maintain he had a practice postie bike in his possession, and planned to put him out of business for a while. I wound up the CT90s, cranked down the gears (that’s up on a normal bike) and then, after focusing on his gear lever, I let it go in a good old-fashioned ghostie. As I jumped off, the throttle instantly clicked into auto pilot and was set on a path of destruction. Tragedy occurred when it missed the target, charged top speed under a portable grandstand and cannoned into the back wall of the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
As I pulled the bike from under the grandstand, I suddenly realised I had several more pieces to my CT90 as the front wheel hit the floor of the postie and broke it in half. Sadly, that was my last performance on the CT90 and I’m still angry I didn’t go out in style.
Once the kids on minibikes become the mainstay of the halftime show at indoor supercross, attention shifted to the opening ceremonies. A few years of turning the lights off, cranking up some AC/DC and yelling out some riders’ names had run its course and promoters introduced a laser light show to kick off the night.
Now, compared to modern laser shows, the 80s version was more like a couple of boy scouts shining some Dolphin torches in the bush. Yep, with as much power as the light generated as your old 1995-model Nokia phone, the laser light show went down faster than a drunken footballer on Mad Monday. It generally wasn’t well received but the end was near when the crowd booed and yelled for the lights to be turned back on.
FMX proved to be the mainstay of the halftime show during the mid-90s. What started out as some guy getting a bit loose on the finish line tabletop turned into a rider upside-down and underneath his bike as he backflipped from one end of the building to the other. And yes, I was part of that as well, although it was my job to make the other riders looked good and I did it exceptionally well.