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75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Begins August 3rd
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75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Begins August 3rd

Hey motorcyclists! It's time once again to make your reservations for this year's rally in Sturgis, North Dakota.

The original founder of this event is Clarence “Pappy” Hoel, who purchased an Indian Motorcycle franchise in 1936. That same year, he founded “The Jackpine Gypsies” motorcycle club. Two years later in 1938, the Jackpine Gypsies held the first motorcycle rally on August 14. The first rally was called the “Black Hills Classic” and was a single race that had only 9 participants and a small audience of 200 people.  

From 1938 to 1960, the original Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was for stunts and racing. However, in 1961 they decided to expand the categories to include the hillclimb and motocross races. The new half-mile track race only had 19 participants the first year.

The motorcycle club now owns the 40 acres of land adjacent to Interstate 90 between Exit 30 and Exit 32. Over the years, the club has built the lighted short track, a motocross track, a hillclimb area, the clubhouse and a field meeting area on the 40 acres of land. The state of South Dakota has approved the club to have a concessions business on their grounds. 

In 1963, the debut race took place on the new short track the club built. Since this race, the club has made many improvements to the racetrack. The track has now been widened, permanent seating was installed, the lighting system upgraded, and they have an announcer booth. The club holds races during the week long rally and every other weekend year round. 

In the 1980’s, the club built their first motocross track. By 1996, motocross racing had gained in popularity and the club built a new track that year. By 1998, the Gypsies held five motocross races that year and attracted over 500 racers. 

Between 1939 and 1941, the Black Hills Run started to gain its popularity. Many motorcycle riders favor this route that stretches across the Black Hills from Deadwood to Custer State Park. The Black Hills pine forested mountains are a unique scenic motorcycle ride that many enjoy during the week of the rally. 

What started out as a weekend event in Sturgis with only 200 spectators in 1938, has turned into a week-long event that attracts around a half million motorcyclist to this quiet Midwestern town. For the people of Sturgis, it is a way of life to have the open road under their wheels and the wind in their faces.

 

Image: flickr.com

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Leave a Comment

  1. Written In Chrome Crew
    Written In Chrome Crew
    Thanks for the run through on the history of the Sturgis Rally, Ann! Fascinating!
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    1. Ann Johnston
      You are welcome. I love history and this was fun to research and learn more about Sturgis
      Log in to reply.
  2. Eve Sherrill York
    Eve Sherrill York
    A lot of these events seem to start out as a week end thing and end up going a week. Good article.
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  3. Sarah Johnston
    Sarah Johnston
    This is an amazing example how things grow over the years.
    Log in to reply.
  4. tzigane
    Sounds like a great time for bike riders. I think my brother mentioned wanting to go sometime.
    Log in to reply.
  5. Julie Sinclair
    This sounds like a fun filled week. But with this many people you do need to be a littler younger than I am right now. I wished I had gone back in 1998 when I had a chance but I couldn't get the time off.
    Log in to reply.
  6. Ray Salmon
    I had the time of my life back in 1985. A must see event.
    Log in to reply.
  7. NT3RNT RITR
    I have heard of this motorcycle rally for years, but South Dakota is a long ride from Alabama! Vote #12.
    Log in to reply.

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