Motorcycle fanatics ride into Sturgis like a roaring thunderstorm sweeping across the rolling South Dakota prairie, their bikes streaking down Main Street in bright flashes of metallic blue, candy apple red, sun yellow and every other hue of the spectrum. For seven summer days, Sturgis is transformed from a quiet little town along I-90 into a loud, leather-bound Mecca for thousands of riders from around the world. It’s a place where rock music blasts from rooftop speakers, where custom choppers sit next to stock Harleys and Hondas, and where America’s eclectic splendor of personality is on full display every day. If you’ve ever been to Sturgis in August, this can mean only one thing. The Sturgis Rally is in full gear.
This larger than life biker get together was a mere racing event first put on by the Jackpine Gypsies and rally founder, ‘Pappy’ Hoel, on August 14, 1938. Although the rally still has its fair share of races during the week, things have certainly changed since the late 30s. Besides the plethora of motorcycles, live concerts, and tattoos, it’s hard to imagine ‘Pappy’ envisioning the attendees in pasties and body paint, crowds easily numbering over 300,000, or even the sheer magnitude of what the rally now means to Sturgis, the surrounding communities and even the motorcycle world as a whole.
I’ve photographed the rally for multiple years now and have had the opportunity to meet new people, catch up with old friends, and photograph rally life up and down Main Street. I never know what I’ll see or who I meet and I think that’s why I keep going back.
Enjoy these photos and then head to JoeFotos to check out a gallery of images from over the years.