Black Hills Motor Classic begins | South Dakota History
The first Black Hills Classic for motorcycles was held in Sturgis on August 14th, 1938. The event featured a race with 9 participants. The name of the Classic was later changed to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
The story begins in 1936 when Clarence “Pappy” Hoel purchased the Indian Motorcycle franchise in Sturgis and formed the “Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club”.
1942 and 43 editions of the rally did not take place due to gasoline rationing during WWII. By 1949, Sturgis Main Street was blocked off for the first time for an awards ceremony.
The Jackpine Gypsies introduced the Hill Climb and Motocross races in 1961 and within a few years, the Classic expanded to a 5-day event.
By the end of the 70’s, the City of Sturgis begins licensing vendors, and attendance had grown to 30,000. “Pappy” Hoel died in 1989 at the age of 85 and attendance for the Classic that year was 400,000.
In 1992, the Black Hills Motor Classic was renamed the Sturgis Rally and Races and was changed again in 2003 to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
The 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is the 83rd annual and is known among enthusiasts as the World’s Largest & Most Famous Motorcycle Rally. Many streets in Sturgis are blocked off, and there are nearly a thousand vendors, along with concerts throughout the city and surrounding area.
Production help is provided by Brad Tennant, Dakota Wesleyan University.