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Just the word "Sturgis" captures the attention and imagination of the entire world of motorcycles. It was in 1936 that a small group of motorcycle enthusiasts founded the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club with the simply stated goal to ""promote motorcycle racing and touring." History has proven their dedication and accomplishments.

Early in 1937 the Jackpine Gypsies joined the American Motorcycle Association and began holding racing events at the city's half-mile dirt track. But, 1938 turned out to be the historic year. That was when the City of Sturgis joined forces with the Jackpine Gypsies and the first "Rally" was held over a three day period in August, highlighted by the Jackpine Gypsies Championship Half-Mile Race. 2008 marks the 70th Anniversary of that Jackpine Gypsy Championship race. Since that race untold numbers of Americans from every state in the land and people around the world have come to Sturgis in search of something. I think it was to be part of a special American Celebration that is the Jackpine Gypsy racing.

I wonder if any of those 200 or so people who attended the races could have known or imagined that the millions of souls from around the world would follow in their tracks. This is true Americana
at its best.

Sturgis has a strong racing history. Fort Meade put Sturgis on the map in the 1870's when they stationed a Calvary troop here. Naturally horse racing among the troops and the locals began to take place By the late 1890's Sturgis had a half-mile horse track laid out along Bear Butte Creek with the hillside serving as the bleachers, but the track was washed away during one of the city's early floods. From 1900 through 1910, the City of Sturgis did its racing on Main Street. Horse racing was popular as were recovery races. Even "Fat Man" racing was taking place on Main Street with a first prize of $5.00 and $2.50 for second. That all changed in 1911 when the City of Sturgis built a half-mile dirt track with grandstand and stables on a hill outside of city limits. The Sturgis track flourished with horse racing as did other famous places like Coney Island during this Victorian era. After WWI, motorized vehicles became the rage and the track was modified. The track's corners were banked allowing automobile and motorcycle racing to take over and thrive during the roaring 20's. Times were good. Then the stock market crash of 1929 brought a shock to the folk and a great depression to America. The future of Sturgis and its half-mile track like most of America, was bleak and uncertain during the hard times called the thirties.
But, then came the Jackpine Gypsies. In 1938 the Jackpine Gypsies with the city's help returned tHalf-Mile racing to Sturgis and launched it toward it's ultimate destination with history.

The first champion 70 years ago was "Smiling" Johnny Speigelhoff riding a Harley-Davidson. Johnny will be honored this year by his induction into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame on August 6th. Johnny was just the first of many champions who would come to compete at Gypsy racing events held at the half-mile track in Sturgis. The Gypsies own Neil Hultman has been a member in good standing since 1947. He remembers the fifties as a "golden age" of Jackpine Gypsy racing when legendary champions like Al Nelson, Bill Tuman, Chuck Basney, John Tindall, Bobby Hill, Dick Mann and Dick Klamfoth raced to win in sturgis. Many more have come through the decades since then. Neil Hultman during his 61 years with the club has truly done and seen it all.
Jackpine Gypsies HistoryRally Racing & ToursJackpine Gypsies NewsPhotos
Merchandise & MembershipSturgis Rally InformationContact Us
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