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Local entrepreneur gets reality series about running world's largest biker bar

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Michael Ballard will star in his own reality series called 'Full Throttle Saloon'. The Dyer County native owns the world's largest biker bar in Sturgis, South Dakota, which has the same name as the series. The premiere episode will appear Tuesday, Nov. 10, on TruTv at 9 p.m. Central Standard Time with new episodes every Tuesday through Dec. 15.
Michael Ballard, local entrepreneur and owner of the world's largest biker bar, the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota, will be featured in a new reality television series under the same name on Tru Network.

The show centers around Ballard who grew up in Trimble and graduated from Dyer County High School. The audience will get to experience the world's largest biker bar when roughly half a million bikers descend upon Sturgis for the annual rally week. During this time, Ballard has nine days to make as much money as possible.

"I'm ready for everyone to see what it's like to run the world's largest biker bar, Full Throttle Saloon," said Ballard. "I would like to give you something to compare it to but it doesn't exist. With that being said you will have to tune into TruTV this fall and watch the series."

Ballard got the idea to build the world's largest bar after a trip to Sturgis in 1999. That same year he sold his cellular phone business, Cellular Plus, and went back to the South Dakota to begin construction on the bar.

"Growing up with Dad (local businessman and Trimble alderman Raymond Ballard) in the tile business, I had a lot of knowledge in construction," said Ballard.

After construction was completed, the Full Throttle Saloon consisted of an indoor/outdoor bar with two large stages, a tattoo parlor, a burn-out pit, a wrestling ring, restaurants, dozens of stores, 200 cabins for rent and parking for thousands of bikes.

In 2000, Ballard met Jesse James Dupree and they became friends. Dupree is the lead singer of the band Jackyl and the executive producer and creator of the MTV series "Two-A-Days."

The two entered into several business ventures together and after a couple of years decided to pitch the idea of a reality show. The concept would focus on Ballard and the demands of running the Full Throttle Saloon.

Ballard said they pitched it to Vh1, but at the time they were more focused on celebrity reality series.

"It's been a long time coming," said Ballard. "Jesse and I have worked day and night to land a show for the last seven years. We both knew I had built something golden, and Jesse had seen it the first time he played the Full Throttle Saloon. I have put everything on the line multiple times to keep growing the Full Throttle Saloon brand. I've rolled the dice every year and I've been lucky so far - but you never know what tomorrow will bring."

Ballard and Dupree partnered with Arnold Rifkin, executive producer of "Live Free or Die Hard" and A. Smith and Co. with production credits to "Hell's Kitchen" and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show".

Ballard has 300 employees to manage and keep track of, including 100 bartenders, during the nine days the bar is open. With an operation of this scale, large sums of money have to be accounted for.

"We basically have our own indoor bank," said Ballard. "We have bank teller windows and the same machines that banks have."

With only nine days to make as much money as possible, Ballard says he only gets about 2 or 3 hours of sleep each night during that week.

"The bar closes at 2 and there are a lot of things to take care before it opens the next day," said Ballard.

Ballard doesn't do everything himself and has two of his friends from Dyersburg that help him each year.

Byron Smith of Dyersburg Tax Service is his bar manager and Robert Moore of Southern Rents takes care of renting the hundreds of cabins.

When asked what he does when the bike rally is over and it is time for the bar to close, Ballard has a simple procedure.

"I shut it down, winterize it and move back to Dyersburg," said Ballard. "I'll stay here until May and move to South Dakota for the summer. Then I'll open the inside bar up in the middle of June and do it over again."

Ballard said he is excited about the series and will be in Kansas City, Mo. on Tuesday evening for the premiere party. And although Ballard seems to have made the big time he said he is still a hometown boy.

"It would be cool for everyone to see me going from Trimble to Hollywood, but no matter what, my heart remains in Dyer County," said Ballard.

Look for the Full Throttle Saloon Reality Series airing on TruTv from Nov. 10-Dec. 15, every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Central Standard Time.

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i loved the show about the full throttle. hang in there michael.

-- Posted by jbro6544 on Sat, Mar 6, 2010, at 10:13 PM

Hey Im tryin to get hold of Mike about some family stuff.Im over here in Ok and would like for someone to ask him to e-mail me or somethin Thanx Doug

-- Posted by Doug Ballard on Wed, Dec 15, 2010, at 10:24 PM


Michael is hard to get a hold of. You may find him in Charlotte Convention Center - Easyrider Motorcycle Show this weekend.

-- Posted by dynamicleather on Sat, Jan 22, 2011, at 2:57 AM

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