Somewhere out there, in what ever part of the world you are in, chances are there is a Rooney Special rolling along on the same hard earth you stand. And if not, no doubt there has been.
There are more than 50 of them ‘out there’, produced over the last 30 plus years. Some have never venture off a race track. Others have circumnavigated the globe. Some have disappeared with whereabouts unknown, others pop up reliably at outback races like Sunraysia or Condobolin.
And while each share similar markings on their birth certificate, all were born very different machines, and have then grown their own unique character traits. Each of course share Pappa Rooneys engineered DNA, but they also reflect the owners goals, character, taste and experiences.
And these are bikes that are ridden. Hard. They are scratched, the saddle is worn, the paint faded (ok, except for Darren’s r80g/s, that thing is crazy clean, and yet…holy shit can that guy ride). But the thing is, and the thing I love ..
Every bike is a story of a person, and every scratch is a story of that person challenging themselves. And if you like those kind of stories, chances are you would have enjoyed being at Rooney Tune 2018.
I sure as hell did. And I’m pretty sure so too did the others that in late November 2018 rode to Copmanhurst NSW on all manner of Rooney Specials to wax lyrical and ride. They came from as far as Darwin NT, Perth WA, and Tasmania. And even better, they came on and mingled with 14 of Paul’s own offspring.
And being the first time a gathering of Rooney Specials had occurred this was an unexpectedly good result. So what do you call a gathering of Rooney Specials? Well, we called it Rooney Tune, blatantly stealing Paul’s own catch-cry. But while Paul applies it to his tuning of machines we applied it to his machines tuning their people. Two days of tuning the mind in fact, riding the Northern NSW hinterland in the early summer sunshine. Just the kind of tuning everyone needs.
Paul Tuned up in his 6×6 Landrover camper, bringing along with him a race bike of course. It had just been rebuilt after a a literal run in with a kangaroo at the Sunraysia rally. But being now all ready and rearing to go a few of us managed to steal it while Paul wasn’t looking and round up some cattle in the rodeo ground. Adam Jung, took out the Best Recovery Award after riding the machine into a horizontal spin on the left cylinder, performing a pirouette, and then bringing it back up again and riding off. Darren Craig took out the Gaston Rahier Award when, after considerable arm twisting, he literally climbed onto a machine that stood near as high as he, before blowing our freaking minds as he opened up the throttle and a box of effing amazing.
The rest of us where more subdued, or hungover, or both. And although not all of us shared the incredible riding skills of Adam or Darren we were fortunately only a walk away from the Copmanhurst pub, within which could be obtained such liquids as required to convince ourselves (and others) we did.
It’s a terrible shame those skills that clearly I had on Friday night had disappeared by Saturday morning for the group ride out to the Hiefer Station Gorge. There can be no argument that the Northern Rivers Hinterland holds within it some of the most scenic, and most fun riding in the whole of country. The Grafton convict road, Paddys Flat, … you really just cant go wrong. And we didn’t.
Just as well, because on Saturday Afternoon we finally remembered why we all here, lined up all the bikes and presented to Paul his offspring in one of those ‘happy family photo’ type scenes. Except unlike those ones with your arsehole cousins when you were 10, we were all happy to be there. At this inaugural event we had almost all aircooled boxer specials. Almost, being the exception of a VW powered trike that Paul designed and built from the bare earth, well, close enough.
We demanded Paul made a speech and he obliged us but we all know Paul’s a man of action, not of words. And thank goodness for that we thought.
And so it was, Rooney Tune 2018 was by all reports a great time. We had all been well Rooney Tuned and were he better for it.
We had hoped to see a a couple of K series and some of the later oilcooled Specials but circumstances meant a couple of those guys couldn’t make it. which is why..
We’re going to do it again.
Rooney Tune 2020! Seems us hopeless airheads have a two year (social) service interval. So in 2020 we’ll be turning out out and getting our heads tuned in, before being released again to roam the far corners of our amazing earth.