Harley-Davidson announced this morning that Harley is now the “official motorcycle” of the annual Black Hills Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.
The annual rally was started by an Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company dealer in Sturgis named Clarence “Pappy” Hoel. Hoel formed the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club in 1936. The first Black Hills Rally was held on August 14, 1938. The rally was suspended in 1942 due to gasoline rationing. This year’s rally will be held from August 3 through August 9.
According to an agreement between the motor company and the city of Sturgis, Harley will be the official motorcycle of the rally through the year 2090. As part of the agreement, Harley will help fund a Harley themed plaza near the corner of Second and Main Streets. The plaza will be partly constructed with 75 bricks removed from Harley’s headquarters in Milwaukee. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “The open-air pavilion will have ample motorcycle parking and allow visitors to take their pictures with the word ‘Sturgis’ spelled out in stones set in the hills behind the town, above their heads.”
Taking photographs is now mostly free in Sturgis during rally week except for taking photographs of women dressed in paint and photographs taken from one of the two Main Street photo towers. Admission to the photo towers costs five dollars for five minutes. The cost to photograph women dressed in paint is usually negotiable.
The rally provides a windfall for the economies of South Dakota and Wyoming as well as motel and restaurant owners located on interstate highways throughout the western United States. The city of Sturgis, with a population of 6,883 made about $1.13 million from the rally last year.
The new plaza will provide a venue for special events, concerts and weddings. “It will be a gathering point in the city. It’s not just for the rally,” Harley spokeswoman Jen Hoyer said.
Onward And Upward
Attendance at the rally peaked at an estimated 633,000 people in 2000. Last year about 442,000 people spent at least one day at the rally. Sturgis city public information officer Christina Steele is very optimistic about attendance at this summer’s rally. “You hear a lot of estimates,” she said. “Anything from 850 to 1.3 million. Who knows?”
“For decades, Harley-Davidson has been the motorcycle of choice for Sturgis,” Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said. “Today it gives me great pleasure to solidify its importance by making it the official motorcycle of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.”
“Harley-Davidson riders have attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for decades,” Harley president and Chief Operating Officer Matt Levatich said in a press release. “This new agreement will help fuel many more years of freedom, independence and rebellion for this iconic gathering.”