Sturgis is returning to its racing roots and adding some brand-new motorsports events for the 74th edition motorcycle rally.
The Pappy Hoel Classic, two days of half-mile motorcycle racing hosted by the White Plate Flat Trackers of Sturgis is set for Tuesday and Wednesday at the Sturgis Fairgrounds.
“In the olden days, everyone went to the half-mile and everyone went to Mount Rushmore. That was before vendors or parties or what have you,” said Jack Hoel of the White Plate Flat Trackers of Sturgis, described by Hoel as “a bunch of old racers, sponsors and factory people,” dedicated to flat-track motorcycle racing.
The White Platers have a three-year agreement with the city to host half-mile races on the historic fairgrounds oval.
There were no half-mile races in Sturgis in 2013. Now there are two events on the big tracks this year, with the Fairgrounds races joining the AMA Grand National tour stop at Black Hills Speedway on Tuesday.
Vintage races are set for Tuesday starting at 11 a.m., with a Pro half-mile, expected to draw many of the riders from Tuesday’s AMA Grand National.
But those wanting to take in all the racing events at the rally are going to have their work cut out, unless they’ve found a way to be in two or even three places at once.
The schedule is jam-packed through the entire week-long run at the rally, with multiple events on many days.
The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club has added a new event to its tradition slate of motocross, short-track races, and hillclimbs at the club grounds in west Sturgis.
Wednesday Gyspies schedule includes a Verticross, a combination hillclimb and motocross at the club grounds
The week starts as it has for several years, with motocross on Sunday, amateur hillclimb and short track on Monday, the Pearl Hoel Memorial short track on Tuesday, more short track racing on Thursday and the pro hillclimb on Friday.
Also on Tuesday, the busiest racing day of the week this year, the top-tier American Motorcyclist Association’s Grand National Circuit returns to Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City for the first time since a rain-shortened 2009 race, won by flat track legend Chris Carr.
New to the rally scene this year is the inaugural Battle at The Chip on Tuesday and Wednesday, featuring The Off-Road Championship (TORC) off-road trucks racing on a new 1.1 mile course just north of the Buffalo Chip Campground on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The TORC circuit includes events from Las Vegas to Charlotte, N.C., with many races in Wisconsin. Races are telecast tape-delayed on the NBC Sports Network.
The new course at the Buffalo Chip PowerSports Complex has TORC president B.J. Birtwell pumped.
“The natural terrain, the elevation changes, the size of the track is going to provide for some very high speed racing, potentially the fastest track and some of the largest jumps we have on our circuit,” said Birtwell.
“This is not redneck racing. This is professional short-course off-road truck racing. These trucks cost a half-million dollars each, they are purpose-built 900 horsepower trucks that are racing more than 100 miles per hour,” Birtwell said.
Also returning is the 3rd annual Western Motorcycle Drag Racing Association Sturgis Nationals at Sturgis Dragway east of Sturgis on Tuesday and Wednesday, featuring nitro-fueled motorcycle drag racing along with divisions for most any other bikes.
The Buffalo Chip is also hosting the North American Hillclimbers Association’s nitro-powered hillclimbers on Thursday and Friday along with Truck and Tractor Pulls this Sunday and Monday, and ATV races to round out the week on Friday and Saturday.
See today’s Scoreboard on page B2 for the full rally racing schedule.