The very first Sturgis motorcycle rally was held on August 14, 1938. The event was organized by the town’s motorcycle club called the Jackpine Gypsies who bought and developed large tracks, hillclimbs and field areas where the rally would be held.
“Pappy” Hoel – Founder of the Sturgis Rally!
It was Clarence Hoel or “Pappy” who was credited for founding the event when he bought a franchise of the Indian Motorcycle Company (a manufacturer of motorcycles in North Carolina) in Sturgis during 1936. After that, he organized the Jackpine Gypsies.
During the first few years, the Sturgis motorcycle rally focused on racing and stunts, testing the participant’s various riding skills, courage and stunt creativity. By the 1960s, the rally action expanded with hilllclimbs and motocross. Audiences saw more daredevil maneuvers like the half-mile track racing, ramp jumps, head-on automobile crashes and board wall crashes, the reasons for the tremendous popularity of the event today. The only time that the Sturgis motorcycle rally was not held was in 1942, at the height of World War II.
Today, the Sturgis motorcycle rally continues to reap the support and attendance of both participants and motorcycle fans all over the United States and in some parts of the world. In 2000, a record 755,000 attended the rally’s 60th anniversary, including entire families who came with their RVs (recreational vehicles) and rode the few last miles to Sturgis on their motorcycles.