Sturgis Rally
Sturgis Rally
Category: About Sturgis Rally
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Jackpine Gypsies at Mt Rushmore - 1940's
Jackpine Gypsies at Mt Rushmore

The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club started in 1936, with an official American Motorcycle Association (AMA) charter in 1937. AMA began promoting the racing events; which started the now famous Rally in Sturgis on August 14, 1938. That weekend celebration in 1938 had a lineup of only nine racers and a small audience watching the races.

The average age for a motorcycle club is three years, and after 78 years, this club is still running strong. The club owns all the property on which most of our club activities take place. There is approximately 40 acres adjacent to Interstate 90 between Exit 30 and Exit 32, the busiest section of Interstate 90 during the Sturgis Rally. A lighted short track, motocross track, field meet area, hillclimb area, clubhouse, office and state approved concession business are located on these grounds.

The Jackpine Gypsies are a non-profit organization. They donate to area charities, including: the local food bank, Sturgis High School, Zonta Club of Sturgis, and Christian Motorcycle Association. Go to their site if you are interested in becoming a member.

The Jackpine Gypsies have over 150 members living all over the United States and abroad. The average age of club members is 40. The average age of spectators is 42, while the average age of the riders is 23.

The short track at the Jackpine Gypsies club grounds was first used in 1963. Since that debut race, many improvements have been made. The racetrack is now wider, it has permanent seating, the lighting system has been improved, there is an announcer, a sign up building and a clubhouse, where the concession business is located. The club holds races every other weekend and a full week of races during the rally. A motocross track was added on in the 1980's and then in 1996 a new track was built. The sport of motocross is beginning to grow again, in fact, in 1998; the Gypsies held five motocross races, which attracted over 500 racers.

During the Sturgis Rally, they hold 12 events, including: motocross racing, a 1/2 mile race, hill climbs, road tours and short track racing. There were over 6000 spectators and hundreds of racers during the week of the Rally. As you can see, the Sturgis Rally has grown quite a bit since the first rally in 1937!


Which year was the 1st rally?
1937 was the first year races were held. Not a lot of publicity. 1938 was the first year people started to take note and attend. It was called the Black Hills Motorcycle C

Did anyone die at the 1st rally?
One, Edward Borron who slid into a guard rail in Boulder Canyon and died the next morning after riding home to Rapid City after the accident.

Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind
was released 1977 and the riders flocked to Devils Tower.

The 38th Annual Rally
(August 7-13, 1978) Was the first time the National ABATE convention was help in Sturgis.  8 deaths were reported during this rally.

The 36th Annual Rally
(August 9-15, 1976) Over 18000 visitors were expected. A few 'undesirables' staged sex shows behind back-lit canvases while others poured and lit gasoline across the highway in front of the City Park. The Economic impact on the city of Sturgis was over $1.8 million.

The 35th Annual Rally
(August 4-10, 1975) was expanded to it's 7 day format.

The 32nd Annual Rally
(August 8-13, 1972) Some of the Gypsy Tours were 8 miles long! The tour was organized into groups over 2 days the following year)

The 25th Annual Rally
(August 11-15, 1965) was the first Official 5 day event. This was also one of the first years where housing the visitors became a real problem.

The 17th Rally
(August 8-11, 1957) was the first year of the Hill Climbs.

The 13th Annual Rally
(August 6-9, 1953) Was the first rally to run for 4 days.

Motor Maids
of America held their 5-state convention at Sturgis, during the Rally.

The 12th Annual Rally
(August 8-10, 1952) First year of the AMA 5 Mile National Championship Race (to a crowd of 7500!)

The 9th Annual Rally
(August 12-14, 1949) This was the first year that Main St. was partially closed off to Motorcycles, but only for 2 hours on a Friday night. Closing Main St to bikes only really didn't get 'Official' until 1964.

Sturgis Landmark:
The White Plate Flat Trackers Association - (Pappy Hoel & Al Burke, 1979) was organized to remember the early racers who successfully competed and earned points for top finishing within specific time periods. See it at, Junction Ave. & Harmon St., Sturgis SD For additional info, see:

7th Annual Rally
(August 8-10, 1947) had over 400 riders register for the Gypsy Tour. Saturday's races were successful (Bill Tuman named the Sturgis Champion), but Sunday's races were cancelled due to heavy rain.

The 6th Annual Rally
(August 9-11, 1946) Johnny Spiegelhoff was once again named the Sturgis Champion

1942 - 1945
the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was cancelled due to WWII and related gas rationing.

The 5th Annual Rally
(August 1-3, 1941)  Pearl Hoel talked about driving the chase vehicle to pick up stranded riders and one time giving their left over tea to a tourist who needed water for his radiator to cool off his over-heated Ford along Needles Highway.

The 4th Annual Rally
(August 16-18, 1940) was the first year with printed Tshirts (all maroon colored) advertising the rally were sold.

The 3rd Annual Rally
(August 11-13, 1939) had 55 riders participate in the Black Hills Tour - from Sturgis to Mt Rushmore (followed by a Dutch Lunch), The Needles Highway, the State Game Lodge, sylvan lake. Johnny Spieglehoff was again named Black Hills Speed Champion

August 12-14, 1938
was the first Rally with organizational help from the local Sturgis businessmen. There were 9 racers for that Saturday. 8 Indian bikes and 1 Harley. The over all named champion was Johnny Spiegelhoff Pappy Hoel crashed through a 'burning wall' which became a common practice for many future Sturgis Rallies.