Flashback: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, 1985 Edition


A view riders of the 1985 Sturgis Rally

Welcome to Flashback Friday – where the penchant for the past is appeased, and the passion for puttering in fashion is still the daily to-do.

Keloland has just recovered an old tape from the archives of 31 years back – and what better way to usher in the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than to revive the history of this iconic event in all its glory?

a view of riders present at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

The tape follows the day’s festivities in the lives of three rally attendees, showing off the bikes from the past, present, and predictions for the future.

The Rally of today is very different than its first predecessor. The very first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 1938 was for racers only and had a total of 15 contestants.

a view of the riders contesting for awards during the races of the 1938 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
A view of racers present at the 1938 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

A man named Clarence “Pappy” Hoel is the godfather of the Sturgis Rally and helped get the first Rally off the ground.

Hoel reminisces on the successes in a Sturgis Rally tape:

“The first year we had just one day…it went into two days, then three…now it’s up to 7 or 8 days.”

A view of Clarence "Pappy" Hoel, godfather of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Clarence “Pappy” Hoel, godfather of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Neil Haltman, the organizer of the 45th Rally, reminisces on the old(er) day – back then, he was 18 years old and leading tours through the Black Hills of South Dakota.

“There aren’t as many race fans as such that we knew back in the early rallies.  Everyone in town would more or less go to the races. Now, we have a race, and no one has left town.”

a t-shirt from the 45th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Despite the changes to the Rally, one thing hasn’t changed – Main Street is still the prime hub for most of the event’s festivities, and the community is as strong as ever.

a view of the 45th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
A view of the 45th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

We’ll end with a quote that still stands today:

“There is plenty to remember here and plenty to see…the only rule is to be careful about whose bike you sit on.”

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