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Racing Takes Center Stage at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota

RSD Super Hooligan racing series action at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, South Dakota

K&N is a major sponsor of the RSD Super Hooligan racing series

The very first motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota had racing at its core. In 1938, the Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle club staged he "Black Hills Classic" which revolved around a race featuring 9 competitors. The racing blossomed in those early years to include track racing, drags, and hillclimbs. While racing, at times, has taken a backseat to other forms of entertainment in the history of the rally, the 77th Sturgis Rally returned to its competitive roots.

This year’s Sturgis Rally featured RSD Super Hooligan, American Flat Track, AMA Supermoto, street drags, and vintage racing. Rally crowds enthusiastically celebrated the heightened focus on speed and competition. The estimated 376,000 rally attendees were treated to some form of high-octane racing on virtually every day of the rally.

RSD Super Hooligan Racing

Roland Sands and his Super Hooligan Indian Scout at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, South Dakota

Roland Sands, the driving force behind Super Hooligan racing, with his Indian Scout build

The K&N-sponsored RSD Super Hooligan series is a true throwback to the early days of motorcycle racing. Just like the Jackpine Gypsies of the 1930s, the modern hooligans race moderately modified street machines on a challenging dirt course. This year’s Sturgis Rally featured raucous handlebar-to-handlebar action at the famous Buffalo Chip Campground.

The racing action did not disappoint the enthusiastic fans that lined the challenging TT-style dirt track. In the end, the elder statesmen of the Super Hooligan series, Joe Kopp and Brad Spencer, finished first and second in the Main.

The competition was made even more exciting with the fact that two custom built Indian Scout Sixty motorcycles were given away after the racing action. One of the Indians was built by good friend of K&N and series organizer, Roland Sands, and the other by Carey Hart of RCH Racing.

American Flat Track

Sammy Halbert racing in American Flat Track at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, South Dakota

Sammy Halbert showed incredible determination in the American Flat Track TT in Sturgis

The inaugural Buffalo Chip TT was a huge success. A massive crowd watched the nation’s best flat track racers battle on the unique and challenging TT course. The track, which featured a jump as well as a tight hairpin and several unique right hand turns, tested the stamina and skill of the professional racers.

K&N-sponsored rider Brad Baker was excited about the race as he looked over the track before the event.

“This is going to be a challenging track – no doubt about it,” Baker told K&N. “It’ll be tough to pass, so a good start will be especially important.”

Pointing to the track’s hairpin, Baker said, “That turn...that’s going to make for some excitement.” He was prophetic as the ultra-tight turn was the scene of several spectacular crashes and lots of traded paint.

A jump at the American Flat Track race at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, South Dakota

The flat trackers caught air on the TT course's jump

The racing was fast and furious and packed with intrigue. In one of the most dramatic moments of the day, K&N-sponsored Sammy Halbert suffered a mechanical issue while leading on the last turn of his qualifying heat race. He desperately pushed his Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07 down the final straight secure the final spot in the Main.

In the end, Briar Bauman raced his Ninja 650 to the win, with Indian’s Jared Mees finishing second. The podium was rounded out with Harley-Davidson’s Jake Johnson who finished third. Making the most of his Herculean qualifying effort, Halbert fought through the field from his last position start to finish an impressive 4th.

Buffalo Chip Street Drags

Street Drag action at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, South Dakota

The street drag action at the Buffalo Chip kept the large crowd entertained

In the true “run what you brung” tradition, the Buffalo Chip hosted an invitational street drag through the middle of the venue’s amphitheater area. Two-by-two, competitors raced their high-dollar street machines on the dusty asphalt quarter-mile strip.

Wheelies, fishtails, and burning rubber delighted the fans that lined the strip and crowded the elevated viewing areas. Harley baggers, vintage Japanese standards, and other street bikes in a rainbow of styles fought for rally bragging rights.

AMA Supermoto

The hybrid form of motorcycle racing that combines dirt and street racing rounded out the entertaining Moto Stampede at the Buffalo Chip. It was impressive how the grounds crew at the Chip carried out the metamorphosis of the amphitheater to accommodate the various track configurations.

Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers sings the National Anthem at the Spirit of Sturgis Races

Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers sings the National Anthem at the Spirit of Sturgis Races

Defending AMA Supermoto Champion Gage McAllister won the overall at the Sturgis event.

Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Races

With a noble mission to keep the history of Black Hills racing alive, the Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival graced the historic downtown Sturgis park. The Sturgis Half Mile paid homage to the antique board track racers from the 1920s, hand shift racers from the 1930s - 1950s, and the vintage big twins from the '60s and '70s.

The uber-enthusiastic event organizer and vintage racer, Brittney Olsen, is the driving force in keeping the event alive and thriving.

The vintage race bikes at the Spirit of Sturgis races ready for the start

The vintage race bikes at the Spirit of Sturgis races ready for the start

“We had a safe and fun event with an intimate but enthusiastic crowd,” Olsen told K&N. “It is just so important to keep the history of Sturgis racing alive. That’s what we are trying to do.”

The main event of the Spirit of Sturgis was kicked off with a few fast and fun laps by a vintage board track racer, followed by Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers delivering a rousing rendition of the National Anthem. The final event gave the gathered race fans a rumbling, shaking, and thoroughly entertaining glimpse into what racing looked like in the early years of the Sturgis Rally.

K&N is proud to be a vital part of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the resurgence of the vibrant Black Hills race scene.

The race track at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, South Dakota

The Buffalo Chip staff kept busy modifying the race track for various events

Brittney Olsen on her vintage race bike in Sturgis, South Dakota

Brittney Olsen (left) is on a mission to preserve vintage racing in Sturgis


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