2018 Sturgis Rally Report From The Buffalo Chip

We’re out of the gates and into the mix at the Buffalo Chip for the 2018 Sturgis Rally

Welcome to Sturgis 2018

Welcome to Sturgis 2018

Bryan Harley

Woke up to this. Last time I saw these two they were on a unicorn rampage around the Buffalo Chip atop a golf cart. Oh, the stories these two could tell. But what happens in the campground…

blow up dolls on unicorn

Unicorn-riding love dolls are a staple at the Buffalo Chip because, well, Sturgis is all about having fun.

Bryan Harley

The owners of the inflatables are my neighbors at the Chip, buddies from places like Iowa, Oklahoma City, and California. They also happen to be veterans, so getting together in Sturgis is tradition, banding brothers back together. As you can see by the unicorn-riding love dolls, these guys like to have fun, and Sturgis is their conduit for fun.

second-annual Buffalo Chip TT

The second-annual Buffalo Chip TT went down in exciting fashion, with lots of passing opportunities on the new track layout.

Bryan Harley

It’s on, and the 2018 Sturgis Rally has shot out of the gates like Jared Mees looking for the holeshot. American Flat Track rolled into town for the second-annual Buffalo Chip TT in grand fashion. It is a spectacle like no other, as the track has been carved out of the middle of the main amphitheater and fans are literally on top of the circuit, with two-story platforms surrounding many of the corners. The layout proposes a series of unique challenges, like starting off with a right-hand turn instead of the traditional left, and a triple-apex right-hander in the middle. It was a real treat to walk the circuit with AFT’s chief competition officer, Chris Carr, the former Grand National champion and also designer of this track.

Carr was able to use last year’s race as a yardstick for tweaks to the layout this year, including rounding the lip of the TT jump and flattening out the landing spot a bit more. Carr pointed out how he pushed the tightest corner of the track out with the addition of a tire bumper and how the first corner of the triple apex had been moved out 20 feet. One of his primary goals was to allow for more passing opportunities, and the racing action we witnessed didn’t disappoint. The TT jump claimed its share of victims, with one landing so hard it snapped the rider’s bike in two. The crowd roared when Jake Johnson made his pass on Jared Mees to score the victory for the Estenson Racing team.

Motorcycles as Art

Michael Lichter’s annual “Motorcycles as Art” exhibit attracted plenty of industry heavy hitters and all kinds of cool machine designs.

Bryan Harley

Michael Lichter’s “Passion Built” exhibit is once again a star attraction of the Sturgis Rally. Lichter’s annual industry party is a veritable who’s who of movers and shakers in the motorcycle world. The highlight of the soiree, though, is hearing builders talk about the bikes they built for the show; every bike has a story. It was amazing to hear Stacy McCleary talk nonchalantly about his beautiful Panhead with the early ’60s flat-tracker style. Humbleness toward their craft was a common denominator with many of the builders.

It was a classic moment at the party when Lichter invited both Ola Stenegard and Bradley Richards onto the stage: Here was the director of product design for Indian Motorcycle (Ola) and the design director for Harley-Davidson (Brad), head-to-head rivals, both on the same stage.

Brad Richards

Harley’s design director, Brad Richards, was up on the stage with Indian’s chief designer, Ola Stenegard, at one point.

Bryan Harley

As always, Sturgis has been rockin’ and rollin’. The Foreigner Reunion show featured all the original members of the band, and they had the crowd singing along to a seemingly endless list of hits, all while displaying the seamless showmanship and musicianship for which they’re known. Meanwhile, the side stages at the Chip continued to light up the after-hours scene. The Living Deads had the Bikini Beach crowd under their spell Saturday night, with Randy McKnight punishing his snare and Symphony Tidwell slaying her stand-up bass. It was the final bow for the Living Deads, who have endeared themselves to the Buffalo Chip crowd over the years. The duo will perform in Cleveland one last time under a different name and then are off to Europe. Hopefully they’ll carry fond memories of that last gig at Bikini Beach with them.

The Living Deads

The Living Deads held court at the Bikini Beach side stage, away from the main action.

Bryan Harley

Foreigner 40 year reunion

Foreigner rocked the house at the Buffalo Chip with a reunion show featuring all the original members of the band.

Bryan Harley

finalists of its Scout Bobber Build-Off competition

Indian Motorcycle also unveiled the finalists of its Scout Bobber Build-Off competition just outside of Michael Lichter’s “Motorcycles as Art” exhibit.

Bryan Harley