- The first Sturgis bike rally was held on August 14, 1938.
- Rally founder, “Pappy” Hoel, started the event after purchasing a motorcycle franchise and beginning the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club.
- Rally length has grown from one day to one week.
- Today, more than a half million people attend the gathering every year.
- Clarence “Pappy” Hoel buys an Indian Motorcycle Franchise in Sturgis, South Dakota, and forms the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club which is still going strong today.
- Jackpine Gypsies receive an official American Motorcycle Association (AMA) charter.
August 14, 1938
- Sturgis bike rally tradition begins. Known as the Black Hills Motor Classic, this first Sturgis motorcycle rally’s main event is a half-mile race on a dirt track, comprising 9 contestants and a group of 200 onlookers. The initial focus of the rally is racing and stunts.
- The Sturgis rally is cancelled due to gas rationing in support of WWII efforts.
- Hill climbs and Motocross races are added to the event.
- City officials block off one section of Main Street to accommodate motorcycle parking for the 3-day rally.
- Due to its popularity, the Sturgis Rally lengthens to a 5-day event.
- The length of the Sturgis rally is once again stretched, this time to its present 7-day duration.
- The City of Sturgis, SD begins licensing temporary vendors for the gathering.
- In just 9 years since temporary vendor licensing, the vendor list grows from 9 to 117.
- “Pappy” Hoel passes away, 51 years after the initial rally.
- Rally attendance reaches 400,000.
- Celebrities featured at the rally include former NBA player, Dennis Rodman.
- Attendance reaches upwards of 600,000.
- The City of Sturgis designates an entire department to rally promotion and organization.
Current rally attendance numbers reach well over a half million people, with 800 temporary licensed vendors descending on the small town during the gathering. Events include half-mile races, hill climbs, short-track races, area attraction tours, music and live entertainment and much more.