History of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally


Thousands of bikers rode through the streets for the opening day of the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle rally Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, in Sturgis, S.D. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)

STURGIS, S.D. (KELO) — This year marks the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. But, how did the small town in South Dakota become the motorcycle hub it is today? The short answer, Clarence “Pappy” Hoel.

Hoel opened an Indian Motorcycle dealership in the mid-1930s. To generate business, he invited his friends throughout the country to come to Sturgis for a motorcycle classic, according to the Journey Museum and Learning Center in Rapid City.

The Black Hills Classic, in 1938, was the beginning of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the City of Sturgis’ Rally website states. There were nine participants in the races and a small audience.

Sturgis Buffalo Chip‘s website says Hoel was an integral part of the rally for five decades. He expanded the event over the years to incorporate scrambles and hill climbs. He died in 1989, but his rally still continues today.

Below is a timeline of major events to occur during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

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