Sturgis Prepares to Celebrate its Historic Rally Roots

When motorcycle enthusiasts head to a bike rally, odds are they’re riding into history. The legendary Sturgis Rally gives a special helmeted nod to their colorful history.

Many of the more famous biker events trace their roots to a time when motorcycles were in their infancy and moments when a group of enthusiasts came together to celebrate a passion for this new-style of transportation.

The Sturgis Rally is a great example of this.

On a dusty summer day in 1938, local Indian motorcycle dealer J.C. Hoel set the wheels of history in motion when he promoted a flat track race at the Sturgis Fairgrounds. History comes full circle this year as the Pappy Hoel Speed Classic returns to the same historic dirt track where it all began. The event set for August 3-5, 2017 in downtown Sturgis kicks off a full week of racing during this year’s Rally.

“For Sturgis Rally founder J.C. ‘Pappy’ Hoel, the focus for the Rally was always on racing,” says Tigra Tsujikawa, Marketing & Development Director for the Sturgis Museum & Hall Of Fame. “From Johnny Spiegelhoff’s win on an Indian back in 1938 until today, flat track is an integral part of Sturgis history. We are honored to partner with the White Plate Motorcycle Club and Steve Nace Racing Promotions to present The Pappy Hoel Speed Classic, sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association.”

A full slate of racing with top Professional, Amateur and Vintage classes will be at the Sturgis Fairgrounds. As a three-time AMA Track Racing Organizer of the Year, Steve Nace Racing Promotions strives for perfection. “The objective of the AMA All-Star Series is to bring a professional show… we are known for having great tracks and rider safety is always our number one concern,” says Nace.

In 1938, the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club – coincidently founded by “Pappy” as the father of the Rally was affectionately known by racers and Rally goers alike – hosted a Gypsy Tour through South Dakota’s majestic Black Hills. The first “Black Hills Motor Classic” brought out 200 participants. Pappy and his wife, Pearl, provided camping behind their shop on Junction Avenue. “Weenies, Sloppy Joes, potato salad and watermelon for dessert, is what Pearl and the other Gypsies ladies served that first year,” says Tsujikawa. The riders washed their free meal down with iced tea or coffee, served in a tent behind the Hoel’s garage.

“The Pappy Hoel Speed Classic is the perfect way to start the 77th Sturgis Rally, but it is only part of the program,” she notes. Displays, entertainment, swap meet and more are being hosted by the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum throughout the week, culminating with the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Strider Sports. “However, just like Pappy Hoel envisioned back in 1938, flat track racing is the focal point that brings it all together as we have come full circle.”

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