The 2014 Sturgis Rally is history and it went out with a bang. If you stayed through Saturday night you witnessed the kind of rainstorm that’s become legend during Rally. Tents were swept away, displays were overturned, electronic equipment was damaged and water pooled into small lakes. Still, at the Buffalo Chip’s main stage, the show went on. Buckcherry took the stage just one minute late and engaged a wet but hardy crowd.
When the Chip’s grounds crew went out to survey the damage, they found that several campsites had been ruined, in particular one belonging to several groups who attend the rally to help manage the grounds. One of the Chip staff called in the Red Cross who responded promptly, bringing in a trailer-full of cots and blankets and turning the Russ Brown Event Center into a makeshift dormitory. Hot Leathers stepped up to provide dry clothing for the campers and by 7:00 AM the next morning Chip staff along with the clean up groups were canvassing the grounds in formation, exactly as planned.
But lets go back a week. The Sunday before, Sturgis was abuzz with arriving rallygoers. The whole Black Hills region gears up for the Rally and preparations for most area businesses go on all year. Though it sounds odd, the big news of the 2014 Rally was the 2015 Rally; everyone was talking about the 75th anniversary event slated for next year. But before we get there, here’s a look at what you missed if you decided to skip 2014 in favor of 2015.
Victory Motorcycles debuted the new Magnum Model tourer and showed the Gunner, released earlier in the year. Harley-Davidson revealed the newest model in the Rushmore project, the 2015 Road Glide. Indian stepped up their game further with the introduction of the new Scout, a lighter machine in both physical stature and price than Indian’s other models. This fact was driven home by the American Motordrome Wall of Death riders who put the new Scout through its paced in spectacular fashion in the ‘drome! Demo rides were available all week on many makes and models.
John Mounro, son of famed New Zealand Bonneville racer Burt Munro, was on hand in Sturgis. John is an engaging spark of a man, with a twinkle in his eye that belies his 80 years. What a delight to meet him!
Roland Sands did smoky burnouts on an Indian custom, Kiwi Mike announced his Roung The World Tour, Motorcycle as Art met with interest in the Russ Brown Event Center, and Zac Brown and ZZ Top rocked the amphitheater at the Buffalo Chip
. A new class was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum’s Hall of Fame, Bean’re spread the love, and Jesse James stepped back into the spotlight. Bike shows at the CrossRoads promoted by magazines such as Cycle Source, Baggers, Hot Bike and Street Chopper provided showcases for the work of garage builders and pros alike. WMDRA drag racing got traction and half mile dirt track racing returned to the Rally. But the big news for race fans was the Buffalo Chip PowerSports Complex, a new facility built in partnership with TORC championship truck racing that expanded offerings hugely for fans. The venue not only brought TORC racing, but ATV Extreme Dirt Track, NAHA Hillclimbs, and Outlaw Truck & Tractor Pulling to the Sturgis Rally. The potential for expansion here is guaranteed.
Organized charity rides were prevalent, and several signature events took precedence. The Legends Ride staged in Deadwood is always a happening, along with Biker Belles, the TOUR trike ride, and Victory Owner’s group ride. New on the roster this year was the Freedom Celebration Ride, staged in Spearfish and held in conjunction with the Buffalo Chip’s Freedom Celebration. Military dignitaries and heroes the likes of General Wesley Clark were present, making for a day of inspiration and appreciation.
The Sturgis Rally encompasses activities from Rapid City to Spearfish and parts further flung. No doubt, this will be even more apparent for the 75th Anniversary. I looked at the Rally through the lens of the Buffalo Chip this year and it was both enlightening and immensely fun. It’s sounds counterintuitive to call a crowd this large “family” but that’s what it is and that’s how it feels.
“I continue to be so proud of this staff,” said Buffalo Chip President Rod Woodruff. And that’s appropriate because it’s a relatively small but dedicated group that puts on “the best party anywhere.” It’s no easy task for sure and the volume of detail is astounding. “The goal is to provide the best possible experience for our guests,” said Woodruff. And they do.