In Sturgis on August 14 the year 1938, a group of nine young men raced their motorcycles with a small crowd watching them. The racers were known as the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club which became the group that later organized the Sturgis motorcycle rally together with a fellow member and the owner of the Indian Motorcycle Shop, Pappy Hoel. Hoel had worked for his family’s business before buying a motorcycle franchise and rising to become one of the most famous dealers in South Dakota. Since then, the Sturgis motorcycle rally has continued every year after the first rally with the exception of two years during World War II. Now seven decades after the first rally, the rally is still going on strong and has not shown any signs of slowing down.
The Sturgis motorcycle rally is an American motorcycle rally that is held every year in Sturgis, South Dakota. It is held usually during the first full week of August. It was originally held for races and stunts. In 1961, the rally expanded to include motocross races and Hill climbs. It brings not only recognition but also significant income to the residents of Sturgis which is a small town of only 6,627.
An event that had earlier started out as a small group of racers has now turned out to be one of the largest motorcycle gatherings in the world. Different types of motorcycles from all over the world are represented as well as different types of people. In 1960 the rally attendance topped with only 800 people, a number that rose in 1970 to 2,000 people. In the rally’s official guidebook, it mentions that after 1970 the attendance of the event rose exponentially. In 2000 about 550,000 persons attended the rally. Sturgis population of 6,627 doubles up every year when the rally begins. Many racers bring their families, campers and drive trailers to the event; however, the event’s director estimated that in 2006 that 70% of the attendees actually rode there. Shipping companies also transport many motorcycles to Sturgis via airline. This year, 2015, will see the 75th Sturgis motorcycle rally to be held.
The rally keeps its traditional racing roots by having a half mile or 8 kilometer motorcycle race similar to its pioneer (Hoel’s) first race. Other races, concerts, competitions and various other forms of entertainment that were not there when the event first began have also been introduced to add flavor to the rally.