Type to search

Sturgis History & Our Plans

Buzz Kanter Columns Harley Magazine Blog Motorcycle Events

Sturgis History & Our Plans



SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

The annual black hills classic, otherwise known to most riders simply as Sturgis, is right down the road. And this year’s event looks like it’s going to be off the charts. Billed as one of the largest motorcycle events in the world, Sturgis certainly is one of my personal favorites. I’m not so much into the scene on Lazelle Street or what takes place at some of the campgrounds, as I prefer to be riding the amazing roads you find once you get out of town.

This year marks the 75th Black Hills Classic, and you know how much we riders and enthusiasts love anniversary years. Did you know this event was started on August 14, 1938, by “Pappy” Hoel and the Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle club? The highlight of that first event was nine locals in a scrappy motorcycle race on a backyard track. While today the event is dominated by Harley riders, it didn’t start out that way because Pappy was the local Indian dealer.

Given that scenario, we thought it would be a great year to celebrate history with a salute to the old timers who started the Sturgis rally in the first place, especially those Indian motor­cycle riders who supported Pappy’s ambitions.

Indian Motorcycle Black Hills Run 2015
As we go to press, we’re supporting­ rides to Sturgis. I will lead one from Iowa, and my friend Mike “Kiwi” Tomas will take charge of the Ross Tomas Memorial Ride from Southern California. My ride starts at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, the morning of Thursday, July 30, and we should pull into Sturgis on Saturday evening. Riders interested in the Ross Tomas Memorial Ride should call Kiwi Indian at 951/788-0048 for dates and info.

Both rides are free and open to riders of all makes, models, and years of motorcycles. Each rider will be responsible for his own bike, transportation, hotel, etc. Everyone is welcome to ride with us, but please keep in mind that we’re honoring Indian’s role in Sturgis by inviting all Indian riders (old or new bikes) to ride at the front of the pack. Please note, too, that we intend to stay off the major highways as much as possible so we can ride at an appropriate pace for classic motorcycles. We will post updates on AIMag.com and the American Iron Magazine Facebook page as needed.

Indian-Rally-ad-2015Indian & Classic American Iron — Black Hills Rally 2015
Years ago, our magazine created the Indian & Classic American Iron Rallies in Daytona and Sturgis. I loved those rallies, and they were run in the spirit of old-fashioned fun, with great machines, people and stories, fun field events, and a terrific vintage bike show.

We usually don’t hear about free motorcycle shows anymore. Thanks to a number of sponsors, though, we’re bringing this free event back on Tuesday, August 4, at the Buffalo Chip. Free registration opens around 9 am, the field events are scheduled to begin at noon, and trophies will be awarded at 4 pm.

It’s free and open to all (old and new) Indian motorcycles and all other classic pre-1984 American motorcycles. A big thank you to Dennis Kirk for sponsoring the bike show and also to a growing list of participating companies, including Kiwi Indian, Heather’s Leathers, Jerry Greer’s Engineering, and others for their support.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


Follow Buzz on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

To order back issues, visit Greaserag.com.

To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here.

To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.


Next Up