By David Walter
Since Tomorrow kicks off the start of some awesome events in Sturgis, I wanted to take a min to……….Wait, did he just say Sturgis? Oh man let’s blow up the post with shit about Affliction shirts, 27 dollar beers or whatever, toothless chicks with saggy painted tits on main street, and 48in bagger tires or whatever the fuck… Ok, let’s get that out of the way now. Good, we’re done with that.
Now, let’s talk about the awesome racing that is about to take place over the next 3 or 4 days and some of the history of guys like the Jackpine Gypsies MC, the guys that started the rally and included famous members like Pappy Hoel himself.
If you only walk up and down main st and venture little else besides the bars, then I can understand your poor attitude. If you spend 300 bucks a night in a hotel versus just camping to save you some dough, then I get your poor attitude (unless you can afford it, in which case can I crash on the floor).
You’re missing out and some great history of motorcycles, racing, racers, and you’re missing some of the best Short Track, TT, Hill Climbs, Dirt Drags, Hooligan Races etc of the entire racing seasons. Pros, Celebs, Amateurs all show up and race. Rusty Butcher has a tracker cross race, Black Hills Speedway has Hooligan events, and as I mentioned the JackPine Gypsies put on their events. The Jackpine Gypsies MC was founded in 1936 with 7 original members. Jackpine comes from the nickname of the Ponderosa trees that they loved racing amongst.
They started putting on Gypsy Tours in the Black Hills in 1938. The most famous founder of the club is of course J.C “Pappy” Hoel who owned an Indian Dealership in Sturgis. The first rally was held in the field behind his Indian shop where he allowed riders to camp for free to save money for race entry fees. The wives of club members would bake and cook food for all the riders well into the early 40s. Fun fact, in the 70s and very early 80s city officials (not the AMA) in Sturgis suggested to Pappy and the rest of the Jackpine Gypsies that the rally no longer be held or that 1% clubs not be able to attend the rally. The Gypsies and Pappy refused that idea.
They argued 1% came to Sturgis to have fun and relax like everyone else, the rowdy behavior was no more “lewd” or “illegal” (their words) than anybody else attending the rally. By the end of the 80s the rally had become too large for the Jackpine Gypsies MC to continue hosting. It was turned over to the city and commercial groups. Perhaps this tracks the rise in commercialism and price gouging. Certainly, an argument could be made for that through the 90s and into today. I like down and dirty small time events as much as the next. The kind of runs where you bring in your case of beer, camp in the dirt and nobody charges 35 bucks for a shirt…
Well, the Clubs probably still will. For me though, bigger events aren’t ruined. Not everybody has to agree with me, that’s the beauty in anything, but if you’re looking for some racing action, historical tie-ins and you don’t mind an out of the way campground on the cheap, you can still have a couple of days of fun and you won’t see too many Affliction shirts, 58in wheels, and smell axe body spray at the Hooligan races……