There is a place where many bikers regularly go to experience that thrill: an old stretch of Allmonaster Boulevard on the outside of New Orleans. It is a proving-ground where cats from all around show up to showcase their new wheels or moves, to race and converse about the day’s events, or to just wind down and work through life’s issues with likeminded comrades.
On my cruiser, I usually go to spectate and check out the new bikes and cars, and talk with the older cats as they are the sort you would normally catch out there on a cruiser, which is what I ride. My 48’ isn’t one for the “line” per say. The “line” is where you pull up to get ready to race. It’s not often, but sometimes a couple cruisers will take a drag down the strip. The sport bikes that usually race are much lighter in weight and have the advantage when they take off. I talked with Jon Paul Burbank to get his perspective on Allmonaster Boulevard.
Clinton: I know for me, when I go out there with you guys on my bike, it is a different experience. What do you do when you are out here on your sport bike?
Jon Paul Burbank: I go out there and chill mostly. I do a few runs to get that race itch out, but if I see another bike in class lined up, I’ll race em. But mostly I just go out there to do some stunts, if it ain’t packed too much, and just watch the runs and check out people’s rides.
Clinton: Describe a typical night at Allmonaster to someone who has never been or doesn’t know what it is.
Jon Paul: Allmonaster is a drag race strip essentially that “outlaws,” and you know people that are not willing to go to a legal track and pay to ride, go to. They kind of do it under the radar, sort of speak. The police know about the gatherings, and if things get out of hand, they shut it down. I think since it’s away from the city and doesn’t really have heavy traffic or traffic at all sometimes, they don’t mind as much. I mean I have had cops literally tell me to “go somewhere else if you want to kill yourself.”
(Acts out scene) It’s heading out towards Slidell. Right over the river and take the Downman exit. Now the area itself is a long dark road, and most of the events happen at nighttime. Sundays, maybe people start showing up around noon or so. It’s a long desolate strip, two black lanes, woods all around you, and train tracks that run under the overpass leading to the strip. Just out on the old road. We call it “The Pad.”
Clinton: Are there a lot of people involved?
Jon Paul: Oh yeah. Whenever it’s going down, yea a lot. Sometimes hundreds will be out there. Almost to where you can’t really move your car around. You’re jammed in and can’t get out. They take up the side of the road and median areas used for U-turns. They will leave a lane open for cars to go through but other than that, they are on the shoulder or in the turns. Of course they leave the other side open for people looking to race and what not.
Clinton: Is there anyone in charge? How are things organized?
Jon Paul: Allmonaster is pretty much a practice place. There are some serious cats out there that have built racecars and bikes. TV shows have even been shot there. You have the opportunity to become someone, to make a name for yourself and show your colors, or just be in the crowd. If someone is out there with a bigger bike, I go walk up and ask if I can use it. [laughs] Sometimes they go for it but can’t say it happens all the time though.
Allmonaster is much more than a strip of highway outside the city. It is a place proving that cohesion can exist outside the constraints of societal norms. Even with no specific leadership or sponsor, like-minded people can collectively come together and express themselves with a sense of respect and community. I find that becoming more difficult to find in today’s world.