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In 1938, nine motorcycle racers gathered in Sturgis for the first Black Hills Motor Classic. They camped in the yard of the Classic founder, J.C. "Pappy" Hoel. Pappy and the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club noticed the attention annual events like rodeos and festivals brought to surrounding Black Hills communities and initiated the Black Hills Motor Classic to create a similar attraction for Sturgis.

The first classic drew small crowds of in-state motorcycle club members from communities such as Mitchell and Sioux Falls, along with a few groups from Minnesota and Colorado. Neil Hultman, rally coordinator, said the early Black Hills Motor Classics were club and family oriented with most participants camping in the Sturgis City Park. The classic has long since outgrown the park, but today's participants still find plenty of camping opportunities in a number of private campgrounds in the Sturgis area.

Record crowds; 400,000; attended the 50th Black Hills Motor Classic in 1990. "The rally has become a great event for the state of South Dakota and for tourism," Hultman said.

Hultman has been a classic participant for five decades. He said the motorcycles, bikers and events have changed over the years. In the 1940's, there were just two major motorcycle manufacturers--Harly Davidson and Indian, he said. And, unlike today's small bikes, the old-time models were all large machines designed for road touring. Hultman said the classic now attracts more individual bikers than clubs. And, the original rally's events included only a few races, while today's activities include two half-mile races, two hill climbs, events, four short-track races and a tour of area attractions.

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