Offering up over $12,000 in prize money, Motor Town Classic established itself last year as an impressive newcomer to the USA’s limited selection of major blading events and, as co-founder Sean Patrick Quinn advises, they are ready to do it all over again this summer.
For 13 years, Bitter Cold Showdown was one of the seminal competitions in blading. Organiser Daniel Kinney worked tirelessly to create a unique event with an influence that reached beyond the state of Michigan, across the USA and captured the imagination of people from all over the world. This resulted in skaters from as far away as Europe and Asia making the pilgrimage to Modern Skatepark in Royal Oak, braving the incredibly harsh Midwest winters, all to compete against the best in blading. The unique tradeshow displayed all of the industry’s latest products, hosted video premieres and even live performances from pro skaters attempting to forge a crossover between extreme sports and music. However, in 2013, Kinney announced that Bittercold Showdown XIII would be the last in the series and it felt like the end of something very special.
However, Sean Patrick Quinn, James Fisher and Noah Zipser stepped up to continue the Midwest legacy and, the very next year in 2014, Modern Skatepark became the venue of a new competition series – Motor Town Classic. The first event attracted some of America’s top professional bladers, including Jeff Dalnas, Erik Bailey, David Sizemore and Alex Broskow, and top honours went to a “retired” John Bolino, who came out of blading purgatory after renouncing all of his sponsors to win with a startling performance that included huge stunts, technical lines and inspired use of various obstacles. Considering this was a new competition by three relatively unknown individuals outside of their local scene, Motor Town Classic made its presence known throughout the industry, offering a massive $12,500 in prize money, arguably one of the largest cash amounts available at a single blading event. In 2015, the trio of friends are gearing up to do it all over again, with an updated course, a larger trade show and more viewing options for the spectators. Before the competition kicks off later this month, we caught up with co-founder Sean Patrick Quinn to find out more about last year’s event and see what they have in store for this year.
Wheel Scene: Last year was the first year of the Motor Town Classic, right?
Sean Patrick Quinn: Yeah, so this is our second coming up.
Was the goal to fill the void that was left when Bittercold Showdown stopped?
Not so much to fill the void, but to keep something of a tradition alive. James knew that it was gonna be the last BCSD and he had Dan’s blessing. We just want to provide a place to watch great blading, meet new people and keep all the fun parts about competitions alive.
Who is involved in Motor Town Classic?
Motor Town Classic is myself, James Fisher and Noah Zipser. My girlfriend AK is our webmaster/jack of all trades. We’ve been homies for a decade and a half, shredding and the like. We’ve thrown a Detroit street comp for some time now, Delta City Open, so when Bittercold was 86’ed we were like, “Fuck it, let’s give it a shot.”
I remember the prize pot being pretty big, especially for a blading event. How much was it and where did you come up with that much to give away at a blading event?
For the first Motor Town, there was some bucks set aside. We gave out $12,500 in total. We figured, coming out of nowhere, we’d have to ante up to be taken seriously. James is the bank and we pooled from various resources. Before we threw the first comp, we were looking three years out, so we planned to invest in MTC for a while, looking at MTC 3 to be the big one.
Is that a diplomatic way of saying James is loaded?
James is definitely an entrepreneur, so we all threw in, including Modern Skatepark, but James carried most of the weight. We are now a non-profit organization, so we can fundraise and get money in different ways.
What was your experience of last year’s event. How did you feel it went?
Last year’s event was mindblowing. It seemed to go off very well and I was super impressed by the level of blading. It seemed fun and refreshing for a lot of people. We definitely want to have a new vibe and feel like our own competition. Some of the goals were to make it possible for anyone to show up and make it to the pro comp.
What do you think differentiates Motor Town from other events?
I think hospitality and accessibility. I think our trade show and competition is a great forum for new brands and rippers to present themselves. Now that MTC is a summer event, I hope Detroit provides a unique experience. Also, the long-term goal is to have a financially viable event that pays blading back in a way the industry deserves.
I think that one quality about Motor Town that makes it feel fresh is all the new faces. Most of the brands that have paid for booths for this year’s event are newer companies. I feel James, Z, and I are new faces to a lot of people. Many of the dudes that showed up and entered the qualifiers were new faces for us. Chad Tannehill and Scott Hatten were two dudes specifically that showed up and killed it. I think both advanced to the pro comp and I think Chad was top ten. No “cool guy” shit over here.
Why did you decide to move it to the summer?
We moved it to summertime because Detroit winters are so harsh and that shit sucks. Plus, if I were from out of town and had already been to BCSD, or even if I hadn’t, I would prefer to visit in warmer weather. Aside from all that, we would prefer as many people as possible attend the Pow-Wow at Kona. We didn’t want to make people choose one or the other. Plus, there is a great winter event at Ollie’s in Kentucky, The Too Cold To Blade Outside series.
What did you learn from last year’s event?
Oh, fuck, so much, notably all the operational things that differ from street events. Like, who will work the door, who will sell coney dogs, who will DJ, what time will things start, how long will they last. Then there is trying to figure out how to pay for everything. Another hurdle was getting people to believe in us, sell booths and to get a response from the blading industry.
“After the comp ended, I dropped acid and bladed with the young guys.”
Was there anything that didn’t go well last year?
Ha! I remember a few hectic moments of last minute ramp building and wet paint. A few times we were a little scattered, trying to regroup our brackets, could have for sure been a bit more organised. For the most part, things went really well, it was almost spooky. It was very surreal. Plus, after the comp ended, I dropped acid and bladed with the young guys. I think all three of us were very content.
Ha! You took acid in a room full of strangers AND put your skates on? That sounds like the perfect recipe for a freak out!
What did that feel like?
Oh, just a dab will do ya. James and Z got me a pair of green V13s as a little gift for everything, so I just popped those boys outta the box and shredded. I was euphoric, then my girl and I drove home through the snowstorm to share drinks with everyone in town.
You went out drinking after taking acid? Weren’t you tripping out of your mind? That one time I took it, I ended up going to the bathroom at my friend’s party every 15 minutes just to watch the floor tiles vibrate.
Ha! Naw, I took like half a dose to keep things low-key.
Wise move. What other juicy gossip do you have from last year’s event? Blading competitions are usually filled with entertaining antics.
I remember running into James Kobryn at the New York Invite and I had asked him and his brother to come to Detroit for MTC. They did, so I gave them some weed as a token of our appreciation. Then they went and got kicked out of the bar and their hotel. I’m pretty sure the cops came and took the weed away, so I brought a bunch of trouble their way.
Here was me hoping you were gonna tell me about a drug-fuelled orgy that had happened at one of the hotels. How is the prize pot looking this year?
It’s been a little slower coming, but we’re not done hustling yet. However, it looks like the trade show will be bigger, so that’s exciting. It’s pretty cool that the people that were quick to support us right off the bat have continued to participate, but in terms of getting cash together we’ve more work to do.
Can you give an estimate of how much you think the prize money will be this year?
I’d rather not commit to an amount at the moment, as it seems to be changing daily.
Fair enough. Will there be any changes to this year’s event?
Yup, we’ve added 27+ and we plan on structuring the trade show a little differently. We’re gonna try to reach more brands outside of rollerblading. We are also premiering the FID Shred Co Team Video, free, in-house the Friday night before the main event.
Will there be any changes to the course?
Yup, we start construction next week. We’re thinking of a hump shotgun box and a couple of other alterations. We’re going to try to make spectating a little more comfortable and increase vantage points as well. It’ll make it easier for competitors too.
To the people who are reading this and thinking about going, what would you say to convince them?
I think it’s vital, not just for our competition’s sake, but for one’s own experience to make pilgrimage to blade events. I think Motor Town Classic provides an excellent forum to watch the best in park blading, as well as an opportunity to participate in a high energy event. Whether it’s Pow-Wow, Winterclash, Blading Cup or Motor Town Classic, blade competitions are a blast. Meeting people, travelling to new places and all the small things that can occur while taking trips create moments in life that are golden. Detroit is a city in the midst of a very unique transition and I feel Motor Town Classic is a perfect fit – brews and buds. I remember being a young gun seeing pros for my first time at Airborne for Monsters of Roll Tour, Diversity Tour and such. Seeing how their blades were set-up and the like, how they tried tricks, all of it was so wild to me.
Anything else you want to add before we wrap up?
I’d like to thank James, Noah, my girlfriend AK and Modern Skatepark for making Motor Town happen. Thanks to Valo, Intuition, Vibralux, Be-Mag and One for being down since day one. I’d like to thank you, David, and Wheel Scene for the interest and time. And all the companies that are on their shit and already bought booths. It’s important for the blade game to participate in events and have fun while doing so.
I think that’s us!
Oh shit, I gotta give a shout out to Chris and Michelle Gerard for always holding it down and taking marvellous photos for all of our events and Al Dolega for laying the foundation, out here in Detroit.
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