Every year modern-day cowboys are seen frolicking around South Dakota. They prepare to race and to show their unique physical feat riding their iron horses. There are thousands of them and all are motorcycle enthusiasts. Bikers from different places travel to the so-called Mecca of hardcore motorcycle fanatics to witness the event called The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is held in Sturgis, South Dakota. This event happens only during the whole first week of August every year. This is where bikers break away from all the hustle and bustle of their daily stressful lives. At the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, radical motorcyclists create their own nirvana.
The goal of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is to gather people as well as motorcycles. Bikers coming from all walks of life, converge to participate in this grand event. You may be surprised to know that there are doctors, teachers, engineers and other blue-collared professionals included in the crowd. These individuals are those who consider motor cycling a lifestyle rather than a simple means of getting from one place to another or from point A to point B.
It all started when Clarence Hoel, also known as Pappy, bought his Indian Motorcycle Franchise in the same city where the rally is held every year. Soon afterwards, the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club was born. This club owns the field areas, tracks and hill climbs where the rally takes place. Only a year after, the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) recognized the club. It was in August 14, 1938 when the first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally began. Back then, it was popularly known as the Black Hills Classic.
There were only 19 participants and a few members in the audience. The rally included a half mile track and unbelievable stunts. The stunt performances included intentional board-wall crashes, motorcycle jumping on ramps as well as head on collision with another motorcycle or a different automobile. Johnny Spiegelhoff from Milwaukee won the majority of the prize money given by four local businessmen. Five hundred dollars was a huge amount of money during those times. The first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally lasted only for two days.
Since then, the rally has been held annually. However, the rally was cancelled during the World War II. This is to support gas rationings for war tanks. Moreover, young men were also brought overseas to be part of the country’s armed forces.
When the war was declared over, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally came back to life, gaining tremendous popularity. For the first time in history, the main street of Sturgis was blocked just to have a ceremony that lasted for two hours. During the early years of 1960s, the club of the Jackpine Gypsies introduced the Hillclimb and Motocross races. One block of the Sturgis main street was closed to be used for motorcycle parking purposes. The rally became a three-day course. However, by 1965, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally became a five-day event. About one thousand motorcyclists from all over the U.S. attended the rally.
At the same, the event included a feeding program led by the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce held in the city park. Awards were given to the longest married couple, oldest rider, best dressed male and female, and the cyclist who traveled the most distance just to reach Sturgis in South Dakota.
In 1989, a sad day befell everybody as they mourned over the death of Pappy Hoel, the founder of the rally. The whole week of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was dedicated to the father of the said motorcycle event. He earned a national citation for his dedication in making the said motorcycle event into one of the biggest occasions in the world of motorcycling.
In 2000, there were more than 600,000 participants who attended the years rally. This is the highest figure they have so far. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally had also recently celebrated their 80th Annual (2020) City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with 466,769 in attendance, attracting more and more people, both bikers and non-bikers.