Watching Pawn Stars on TV made me think of the big American motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. Of course, Mt. Rushmore is also in South Dakota. The big Sturgis Rally is held around the first full week of August. I guess it is already too late to receive a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle as a birthday present.
The first Sturgis Rally was held back on August 14, 1938 by the “Jackpine Gypsies” motorcycle club. They still own the tracks, hillclimb, and field areas where the rally is held. The first race had nine participants, and a crowd probably not much larger. The actual founder is thought to be Clarence “Pappy” Hoel, who purchased the Indian Motorcycle franchise in 1936. He started the motorcycle club that year, and in 1997, the “Jackpine Gypsies” were inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. I hear the HOF is a must stop as it showcases the history of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally along with the entire motorcycle industry.
The Rally started with a focus on racing and stunts. The hillclimb and motocross races were added in 1961. Now, you could probably not pay anyone enough money to get their bike dirty! It has been held every year since, except during World War 2. They had crazy events like intentional board wall crashes, ramp humps, and head-on collisions with automobiles.
Attendance was estimated at three-fourths of a million people in 2010. Among the attendees are families, with bike owners towing their bikes to within miles of Sturgis, then riding the last several miles. The Rally is often covered by the media for television.
The town of Sturgis itself had a population of a little over 6000 in 2010, now 6627. It was named after General Samuel D. Sturgis. Both Harley and Victory introduce their new models each year during the rally. Not far away are Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, the famous Black Hills, the Crazy Horse Monument, Bear Butte State Park, the Badlands, and Devil’s Tower National Monument.
We hit Sturgis today, a few days before the big Rally. It will be an interesting visit, since it is not too far from the Taj Mahal of drug stores, Wall Drug, located where else, in Wall, SD.
Several people I know have been to Sturgis: Big Bob (not my brother Bob), Char, Kenbob, KS, Debbie, Jesse, and now maybe me and you? It should be a wild time. But nobody we have met is from Sturgis so far!
It is not crazy yet. Most locals tell me the bikers are now too old to cause trouble. I don’t believe them. The nights are too long and the beer is too cold!