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Chopper Derby

Build a chopper and win $250,000

April 1, 2004

A few years ago I was approached by a TV producer who had written a play about bikers that he wanted to turn into a sitcom. He wanted me to read the script to see if it accurately portrayed bikers. He expected to have the pilot ready within six months. Well, that never came to pass. Since then, there has been a plethora of reality TV shows that seem to capture the fancy of viewers. We just love to be voyeurs into the lives of others. That's why I was somewhat astonished to read in Backstage, the theatrical newspaper, that a new reality TV series about motorcyclists has been planned for the fall of 2004.

Casting is now underway for six couples to star in the 8-part series, tentatively named "Chopper Derby" with a grand prize of $250,000. The premise of the show is to follow the adventures of the couples who will be rider and co-rider teams.

They will have to build a chopper from scratch and then ride it cross-country and win a series of competitions to take home the prize.

Apparently there is no restriction on gender so it's possible for a team to be man/woman, man/man, or woman/woman. Sexual orientation is open. The couple does not have to be married or going together. They just have to have some sort of personal relationship to be able to get along throughout the two-month videotaping. Each person must be a motorcyclist, have mechanical ability to work on a motorcycle and be familiar with tools. Each rider must have completed a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course within the last two years. Also, each must have ridden at least 20,000 miles under all riding conditions.

As you know the Discovery Channel's "American Chopper" series has received a huge audience watching the father-and-son chopper building team from Orange County Choppers (OCC) as they fight and bicker during the building of a new theme-chopper each week. Based on the success of this series, "Chopper Derby" will attempt to create its show using features of "American Chopper," CBS's "The Amazing Race," and Fox's "The Simple Life." This is how it will work.

Teams will start at the OCC facility in New York where they will be given all the parts for a complete chopper. They will have work space at OCC during the day but will live in a dormitory setting at night where they will interact. There will be a one-day course given by Mikey Teutul, "phone-answerer and trash taker-outer" at OCC, who will walk them through the step-by-step process to build a chopper. Then the teams will have six days to complete the chopper fabrication and produce a running motorcycle. Video cameras will follow every move of the teams as they struggle through the building process and then try to unwind in the evenings.

When a team completes its chopper, Mikey will roadtest the machine over a 3-mile course to make sure it will hold together. Then both Paul Sr and Paul Jr will inspect the bike for problems, assuming Mikey has not totaled the machine first.

Next, the team will set out on a cross-country journey on their chopper and are required to visit three checkpoints along the way to San Francisco. Each of these checkpoints will be the home of a family who can't stand motorcycles. The objective of each visit along the way is to convince at least one person in the household to take a ride on the back of the chopper. Each team will get an additional $10,000 if they can get someone in the household to take a ride.

The team must arrive in San Francisco no later than three weeks after they leave their starting point at OCC. Anticipating mechanical breakdowns, the show will assign a chase van to each team to assist in repairs. The team members must, however, do all their own work but can accept instruction from support personnel.

The final two weeks of the show take place in California where a series of three competitions will be performed by the first two teams that make it to the West Coast. Should no team make it, the two teams getting the closest to San Francisco will be flown the remaining distance and their bikes will be repaired for the final competition.

The first two competitions will be in San Francisco. The first is to ride the chopper and follow TV and movie star, Lorenzo Lamas, on his 1989 Harley-Davidson Softail custom, down the famous Lombard Street serpentine and back three times without falling off. The second will be to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge (that will be closed to traffic) while weaving in and out of cones and retrieving raw eggs placed on the top of the cones. The team with the most uncracked eggs at the other side of the bridge wins.

The winner of each of the first two events will receive an extra $10,000.

The final competition involves an appearance on the Jay Leno show in Burbank.

Read the next page to find out how Jesse James of West Coast Choppers will judge the finals on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The Final Competition

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