Team Swoop brings cycle acrobatics to the fair

2010-08-19T00:22:00Z Team Swoop brings cycle acrobatics to the fairFELICIA FRANK For The Gazette The Billings Gazette
August 19, 2010 12:22 am  • 

In just over a year, Brian Giordano and his team of stunt sport bike riders have made a name for themselves in the state of Montana.

At this year’s MontanaFair, the team will be showcasing their insane, gravity-defying tricks as free entertainment acts located in the “Guard Yard.” Three times a day, Team Swoop riders Rob “Carpie” Carpenter, Zach Zappone, and Pat Manzi put their bikes and bodies to the limit for fans and spectators alike.

“The shows are going great,” Giordano, owner of Swoop Productions and team manager for Team Swoop, said. “The crowds are just in awe of what these riders can do and they’re really into what we’re doing out here. Little kids are loving it — old people, young people. We’re having fun.”

Giordano purchased Swoop Productions in 2007. At the time, the company specialized in video production and “teaser-style” street bike movies. After releasing video “Final Beginning,” in 2008, and under Giordano’s new direction, Swoop morphed into a stunt show production company.

“I did some thinking, and sport bike freestyle’s not even a sport in the state of Montana, and Carpie and I decided we needed to do something about that. Since January of 2008 we’ve been going hard. We’re trying to make something for this state. It’s everywhere else. Why can’t we have it here?”

Together with Carpenter, Giordano held his first stunt show on Nov. 7, 2008 in his hometown of Boulder.

“It was a great success,” Giordano said. “We actually got to close down the highway in the community.”

In June of the following year, Swoop Productions was set to produce another show in Boulder, but due to three consecutive days of rain, the event had to be cancelled.

“After that we did a lot of thinking,” Giordano said. “I had to figure out what I wanted to do with this thing. Then I got wind of MontanaFair.”

While his business venture has yet to garner Giordano any monetary compensation, the 31-year-old says right now his focus is on the sport and the longevity of his company.

“I’m doing this for free so I can get in the door. This is our state and we’re representing for it and no one’s going to take this away from me and Rob because we’ve been working so hard for this.”

Next year, the duo hopes to tour with the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs and continue the success that they’ve received at MontanaFair.

Since the fair began last week, Giordano says his crew has pulled crowds of nearly 1,000 people for each of their three daily shows, which he says feature “30 minutes of non-stop action.”

“You’re going to see lots of wheelie variations, burnouts, aerial tricks, rolling burnouts, and even tricks on four-wheelers. During the day we do a really cool freestyle show, but for the bigger crowds we do a 3-minute jam session of straight tricks, aerobatics, combo tricks and then we stop and introduce the riders. After that there’s a competition between the riders. That’s where you see the real riding. These guys push each other and it’s awesome.”

Carpenter is said to be Montana’s only professional sport bike stunt rider. After four years of stunting with his local 1 Wheel Revolution team, Carpenter was asked to ride for Team Blackwell, the only officially sponsored Harley Davidson stunt team in the United States. By September, Carpenter will have performed in 26 shows in 14 states across the nation.

“The hog,” Giordano said. “That’s the biggest thing ever. When he pulls out that Harley and you see it do a wheelie it’s impressive. But when you see it do a circle wheelie just like the sport bikes, then we’re in a whole different ball game. Rob was born for that thing. He’s just as good — if not better — on that hog than his sport bike. He’s a machine at what he does. He’s a great athlete and a great person to look up to.”

Accompanying Carpenter is Manzi of Spokane, Wash., and Zappone of Seattle.

“We’ve got a 17-year-old kid,” Giordano said. “Zappone is just as good as the big boys. He’s new-school good and Carpie and Pat are old-school good so we have both flavors on board.”

Giordano says that with the sport of sport bike stunting comes an unprofessional reputation that he hopes his company and team will stay far away from.

“We get a real bad cred for being street bike riders because it’s done on the streets and there’s all the idiots out there that try to do what we do with no helmet on. It sucks and it makes us look bad. We came from the streets, but we’re professionals now. We have to be; our audience is kids and families. We can’t go out there thinking we’re a bunch of rock stars. We want to go out and shake hands and meet the kids and make sure they’re having fun. The crowd’s number one for us.”

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