That first event was quite small, eliciting responses from only nine competitors, most of whom were members of the town’s Jackpine Gyspises’ Motorcycle Club, the organisation which still runs some of the event to this day.
Sturgis, in Meade County, has a population of just over 6,000, but in the first week of August each year its population swells to make it medium size city, with over 445,000 participants attending each August for the past few years, making it one of the best attended motorcycle rallies in the world.
The event is so highly regarded that the Jackpine Gypsies has event been inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame for continuing to organise this great celebration of the motorbike.
Whereas the very first event consisted of just one race, these days there are slightly more entertainments provided to keep the crowds amused.
There are concerts, musicians, breakfasts, stunt riding, pub crawls, street dancing, rodeo, extreme fights and much more. Because the bikes are the true stars of the show there are plenty of daily rides, each with a different theme. They have a night parade down Main Street with bikes lit up with LED lights to create quite a spectacle. During the week of the rally it is almost like organised chaos with bikes and people on the move at all times.
So popular is the motorbike in Sturgis that it even has its own motorcycle museum which occupies an old church and was established in 2001. So popular has the museum become that it has had to move to bigger premises to cater for its expanding collection and multitude of visitors.
The reason that so many people flock to Sturgis, though, is for the competition and the bike displays.
Just about any way to races bikes is represented here, including drag races, track racing, motocross, hill climbs, burn outs, loud pipes contest (bikes like to be noticed), and even tattoo and strongman competitions.
For the displays, owners spend fortunes and copious hours preparing their bikes for show. There are several categories to cater for the different versions of bikes, be they street bikes, choppers, custom built or vintage, all of which are immaculately presented to form a gleaming homage of two-wheeled power houses which so capture the imagination of anyone who loves the freedom to ride these marvellous machines out on the open road.