Tour di Mari Rally

Anita Tourigny and Jerry Hamel are very pleased with Anita’s Corazzo t-shirt!
Frank Kuzmanich of the Firkins SC (Tacoma) is delighted to have won a genuine Corazzo messenger bag!

Photo credits: Chuck Pefley

Each year, the Westenders Scooter Club’s annual Tour di Mari Rally has grown bigger and better. We all knew that with a restored Vespa to give away, this year’s rally could be the biggest. Little did we know just how big it would be!

The rally weekend started on Friday at Jack Block Park in West Seattle. Folks came in from all over to pick up their rally packs, check out each other’s scooters, and enjoy a fine BBQ sponsored by Scoot About Scooter Sales/Rentals/Service! Many beautiful and unique scooters were on display including Westender Beall’s very rare 1946 Salisbury. Attendees also got their first up-close and personal look at the star of the show, a fully restored 1974 Vespa Super, complete with custom paint job, which would be given away Saturday evening!

The rally featured a ‘secret agent’ theme, and participants were encouraged to dress the part. Many did; as a result, we had a weekend where it wouldn’t be unusual to run into look-a-likes of John Steed and Emma Peel, James Bond, Honey West, the Man from Girl seen in U.N.C.L.E., Matt Helm, Modesty Blaise, or any of your other favorite spies from the ’60s and ’70s!

After the BBQ, everyone saddled up and Westender Hairy led the Swarm on a fun little tour of West Seattle, winding up at the Skylark Cafe. The Skylark is one of Seattle’s premiere spots for checking out upcoming new bands. The night promised to be one of the best as Grumpy Gus, a Westender, top chef, and music impresario, had arranged for what would be one of the best Ska concerts of the year.

The first band up was Seattle’s own Natalie Wouldn’t, the official Ska Band of the Westenders S.C. They got the crowd moving with their horn-heavy happy sounds. Next up was Portland Ska greats The Sentiments, who blasted out a great set that left people wanting to know how soon they could return to Seattle! Northwest Ska legend Easy Big Fella rounded out the night with a rare reunion gig. EBF doesn’t regularly play anymore, but their members went on to form other bands like The Sentiments, Natalie Wouldn’t and others, so on when the former members of EBF reunite and appear like the village of Brigadoon; it was a rare and wonderful event!

The next morning came way too early, but the Swarm returned to the Skylark for an excellent Saturday brunch. Scooterists enjoyed the Skylark brunch specialties, like Bailey’s and butterscotch liqueur-battered French toast, delicious omelets and Benedicts. Specialty drinks such as mimosas were served by the pint! The crowd was refueled and ready to go for the “Long Ride”, led by Westender Doc and ably assisted by a team of top-notch Ride Marshals. Members of the Solo Ninos S.C. gladly volunteered to be the ride marshals. This long four-hour ride featured stops at many of Seattle’s best-known neighborhoods and landmarks.

While the Swarm was enjoying it’s ride, Grumpy Gus and his Top Chef team were hard at work setting up the Gourmet BBQ, while Mother Goose, Jules, Nicky, and other members of the Prize Patrol were bundling donated gift certificates and merchandise into valuable ‘prize packages’ for the raffle. Meanwhile, Mr. Nice and Noni were dressing up all the tables to make the picnic area more enticing to the spies.

And what a dinner we had! One of the trademarks of the Tour di Mari rallies is the over-the-top meal on Saturday. The standard burger-n-dog fare just won’t cut it. Each year the Chef designs and executes a gourmet menu that delights all who come to the rally. This year, the menu featured marinated chicken and kafta (lamb) kebabs, 3 different salads, saffron rice, beverages and cookies. The Swarm lined up for the grub. We estimate that we must have fed over 120 people, and not one was disappointed!

At last, the time was near for the moment we had been waiting for: the big raffle and the giving away of the Vespa Super. First, Travis Gleason, representing the Northwest Multiple Sclerosis Society (a portion of the proceeds from TdiM5 will be donated to NWMSS) gave a brief talk about MS and how the NWMSS is working to help those dealing with the disease. He also shared information about supporting programs that are searching for a cure. Then awards were distributed.

The Best Vintage scooter was an incredible mod-ed-out Series 2 Lambretta owned by Tom Carey from Portland. Best Modern Scoot went to Barbara Cabulco and her lovely ‘pink panther’ Vespa GTS. Finally, the “I-Can’t-Believe-That-Thing-Runs” trophy went to Andrew “Danger” Saturn for his Vespa.

Next we had the merchandise raffle. One of the hallmarks of the Tour di Mari rallies are very generous raffles, thanks to our sponsors and supporters for making this true every year. Thousands of dollars worth of valuable merchandise from such well-known supporters as Corazzo, Vespa Lynwood, Talarico’s Pizza, and many others were awarded to the rally-goers.

Then it was time. A hush fell over the crowd as Travis Gleason stepped forward again to spin the ‘Drum of Fate’, which held the golden raffle tickets for the scooter. The prize had been given a complete frame-off restoration over the preceding year by Westender Stinky and his expert team which included Doc, Brad, Grumpy Gus, and many others. Travis drew a ticket and read the numbers, and the winner was — the Westenders’ own Mother Goose! Congratulations were offered and many photos were taken as Mother Goose took her new scooter for a spin around the picnic area.

After the BBQ, many of the Rally participants headed over to the Tractor Tavern in Ballard to see Diego’s Umbrella play a terrific set that put the cherry atop a perfect rally Saturday!

On Sunday, everyone converged on the location of another Tour di Mari sponsor, C&P Coffee. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast before the featured ride, known as “Click’s Photographers’ Ride”. A noted Seattle photographer and artist, Westender “Click” led the swarm on a tour of many of his favorite vantage points for viewing our fair city.

The ride ended at yet another rally sponsor locations, Zippy’s Giant Burgers in White Center. They arrived just in time for their first annual Burger Eating Contest! The challenge for the contestants was to see how many Zippy’s burgers you could eat in eight minutes. Westenders’ prime minister, Roger Tango, was surprised to learn that he had been entered in the contest, and he even had a corporate sponsor, Company Restaurant and Bar. While he competed gamely, his four-burger score was nowhere near the winning performance of the kid who downed 8 burgers in 8 minutes (!!!). Despite the loss the Westenders were represented well.

After the contest the remaining crowd took off to another rally sponsor location, Big Al’s Brewing, for an after-party-wind-down in the private upper lounge.

The Westenders Scooter Club would like to thank everyone who helped to make Tour di Mari 5: The Super Secret Agent Rally the largest and best Tour di Mari ever, and possibly one of the biggest 2012 rallies in the Pacific Northwest! We especially thank all our sponsors and contributors, and encourage everyone to make them your first choice when looking for scooter gear, and other goods and services!