Biker News & Biker Lifestyle

Meet the American who founded the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

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The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally rolls into South Dakota for the 82nd time beginning on Friday.

Credit local Indian Motorcycle dealer J.C. “Pappy” Hoel (1904-1989) for fathering what’s now the world’s premier celebration of motorcycles and an American way of life.  

The 10-day festival annually attracts more than 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts from across the United States, and beyond, to a remote corner of one of the nation’s most sparsely populated states.

“Pappy was the man who put the brotherhood in motorcycles,” Coe Meyer, a Sturgis motorcycle historian, told Fox News Digital.

“He’s the reason so many people come here today.”

Sturgis is located on the edge of the Black Hills of South Dakota, hundreds of miles from the nearest major city, smack dab in the middle of the North American continent.

Hoel’s marketing ingenuity, enthusiasm for motorcycle racing and — unbeknownst to many — his paternal fondness for America’s World War II veterans struggling with the mental wounds of combat made Sturgis synonymous with motorcycles. 

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