The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a motorcycle rally held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota each first full week of August. It was founded on August 14, 1938 by the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club who still own and operate the tracks, hillclimb, and field areas that the rally is concentrated around. The first rally lasted two days and was focused on racing and stunts.
The founder is generally considered to be Clarence “Pappy” Hoel who is still honored in various ways by the crowd at Sturgis.
The main focus of a motorcycle rally was originally racing and stunts. This could include half mile track racing (the first year in Sturgis, there were 19 participants), board wall crashes (intentional), ramp jumps and head on collisions with automobiles.
The Sturgis Rally has been held every year, with exceptions during World War II.
In modern times, there has been a revitalization of motorcycling and a new group of fans that are interested in the old rallies. This has led to huge attendance numbers for classic rallies such as Sturgis. Attendance was estimated at 514,951 in 2004, and 525,250 in 2005. This rivals the resident population of the entire state — 754,844 in 2000. Many of the new attendees of the Sturgis Rally are family people, bringing their children with them and often driving trailers and campers to the rally and riding their motorcycles the last few miles. This has prompted several of the attendees to start wearing patches and shirts saying “I Rode Mine to Sturgis” with the date instead of the traditional patch stating that the wearer attended the event in such-and-such a year.