The Mother Of All Rallies

By Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

In honor of the 77th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we offer this lovely linen postcard of Needles Highway in Custer State Park located in the southern Black Hills.

The description on the back indicates that: “Needles Highway, winding through tall sentinels of granite, is located so that it gives you a breathtaking vista of beauty at every turn. The Cathedral Spires rise skyward like the pipes of a great organ.”

Truly, one who has ever driven – or better yet ridden – the Needles connecting to the Iron Mountain Road, can attest to the spectacular beauty that is the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The actual Sturgis Rally was started by Pappy Hoell and the Jackpine Gypsies, a local motorcycle club that received its charter from the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) in 1937. That weekend celebration in 1938 had a lineup of only nine racers and a small audience of spectators. The rally remained small throughout the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and part of the ‘70s, with Hoell and his wife making sandwiches for rally attendees who slept in City Park.

After an incident in the park in 1979 when an outlaw motorcycle club blew up an outhouse, according to some, the Sturgis Rally has never been the same. The rally, traditionally held during the first full week of August, grew exponentially in size and commercialism, with a whopping estimated 750,000 people cramming the Black Hills region in 2000.

Local Sturgis-based businesses often move completely out of their space for the four-week period of time around the rally, renting to out of town vendors with a keen eye for profits. Some Black Hills residents rent their homes out to rally attendees, in some cases getting enough money from rally rentals to pay their mortgage for the entire year.

This year celebrates the 77th anniversary of what the Jack Pine Gypsies started with a few flat track racers and some loyal local fans. Over 400,000 riders are expected at this year’s trailer – er – motorcycle rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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