History of the Sturgis Rally

1936 Clarence “Pappy” Hoel purchased an Indian Motorcycle Franchise in Sturgis, SD.
1936 Clarence “Pappy” Hoel purchased an Indian Motorcycle Franchise in Sturgis, SD.

The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club was formed. 

1938 The Rally Begins…The first Sturgis Rally, known as the Black Hills Classic was held on August 14th with a race of 9 participants and a small audience.

1942 Due to gas rationings in support of the war efforts the Rally did not take place. 

1949 For the 1st time, Sturgis Main Street is blocked off for a 2 hour awards ceremony. 

1961 The Jackpine Gypsies introduce the Hill Climb and Motocross races. 

1964 One block of Main Street is officially closed for motorcycle parking over the course of the 3 day event. 

1965 The Rally moves to a 5 day event.

1974 The first temporary vendor set up in the Sturgis Auditorium. 

1975 The Rally evolves to its present 7 day event. 

1979 The City of Sturgis begins licensing temporary vendors. 9 vendors licensed. 

1983 City Park is closed to camping due to fire outbreaks. 

1986 Local man, Tom Monahan, donates the artwork of the Official Rally Logo to the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce.

1988 117 vendors licensed in the City of Sturgis. 

1989 Sturgis Rally Founder, Pappy Hoel passes away at the age of 85. 

2000 The Sturgis Rally saw the largest attendance exceeding as high as 600,000 people. 

2002 The City of Sturgis formed a city department within the city government to take the place of all prior contract labor hired to promote and organize the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. 



2 Responses to “History of the Sturgis Rally”

  1. Awesome write up! Thanks

  2. Awesome write up!

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