If you’re wandering through the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame, you’ll come face-to-face with historic memorabilia. You’ll see pins and patches from distant rallies. There are old racing programs with famous notes written in the margins. You’ll find riding gear, toys, and tons of other great motorcycle related history pieces. But when you come across this item, you might just pass it by, because at first glance, it appears to just be an old notebook. But it’s far more important than you might think. This book holds the true history of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – it’s the very first book of minutes from the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club.
If you got to look inside the faded pages (which isn’t likely as it’s fragile, valuable, and in a locked case), you’d find some some amazing notes. On the very first page, you’d find the following: “The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club” Sturgis, South Dakota. “I hereby agree to abide by the Laws and Club Rules of the 'Jackpine Gypsies’ Motorcycle Club,' Sturgis, South Dakota. That I will cheerfully serve, on any committee on which I might be placed, and further, I will always work for the success of the Club.”
Turn the page, and you’ll see a membership list of the very first 15 people to attend an official meeting of the club on January 21, 1938. Included on that list are J.C. Hoel (Clarence – known to his friends as “Pappy”) who is widely recognized as the founder of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and Don Vodden, one of the nine original racers to compete in the first races held in Sturgis.
Turn a few more pages, and you’ll find minutes of those very first meetings. While many may believe that Pappy Hoel served as president of the club, he actually only served as temporary president for two meetings – when the club elected its first slate of officers and made Joseph Kelly its first president.
The book continues with minutes of meetings through August 17, 1939, but doesn’t end there. Turn a few more pages, and you’ll find the Constitution and Bylaws of the club – once again, all hand written.
The pages of this little notebook are full of interesting pieces of history about how this group of local men came to initiate a motorcycle club, and kick-off a weekend of racing that blossomed into what is today one of the biggest motorcycle events in the world. This booklet is just one gem that makes its home in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
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