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Written By: Emily Pogue
The sleepy town of Sturgis, South Dakota becomes a vibrant destination each year with the sound of engines, people from all over the world, and good old-fashioned fun. You’d assume we were talking about the annual bike rally, but instead we are talking about an exciting week at the annual Sturgis Mustang Rally (SMR).
Frank Lawton, founder of the SMR, retired in the Hills and found that after the bike rally, Sturgis became a ghost town where opportunities and business dwindled once rallygoers returned home. Not wanting to slow commerce or the community down, Lawton decided to try out some ideas for extending the fanfare and industry. Enthusiasm for the event has not waivered; the week-long celebration is now in its 12th full operational year of honoring the iconic Ford Mustang. And this year’s SMR promises to “pony” up a whole lot more.
Now in its 54th year of production, the Ford Mustang is cruising through its sixth generation of sports car stardom. Along the way, it has inspired people from all walks of life and from all corners of the Earth. The SMR is a haven for those Mustang enthusiasts, drawing crowds in the upper thousands. With both entertainment and educational offerings, the event gives attendees more than just muscle cars to look at.
“The idea is to enjoy your Mustang, not just look at it,” Lawton says. “We want you driving it. And that’s why we have the courses, too; so that you know how to handle your car and learn the capabilities of it.”
Held the week of August 27th through September 2nd, the SMR will be filled with many events that will help to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Family Support Fund and Cruise for a Cause. Funds also help with scholarships for area seniors and support the cost of kits for the military members at Fort Meade.
This year’s SMR starts off on Monday night with a little help from the City of Deadwood. They’ve worked with Lawton on putting together a free outdoor concert at the Days of ‘76 Complex in Deadwood. With food and drink vendors set up and a lineup of amazing talent, all you need to bring is cash, a chair, and your dancin’ shoes.
The 4th Annual SMR golf event will be held at the Tomahawk Lake Country Club on Tuesday. The cost is $85 per person with 4-person teams and will include green fees, a golf cart, and awards dinner. Golfers will navigate through parts of the gorgeous Black Hills National Forest. Proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Support Fund. Space is limited to the first 72 golfers. There are also hole sponsorships available. Please contact Jim Leahy at Jim@pbs-nj.com for registration or sponsorship questions.
BFGoodrich Autocross Driving School
On Wednesday, Terry Earwood, instructor at Skip Barber Racing School, will show you what your Mustang can do! Build your basic skills in the Entry Level class for new drivers or join the Next Level class to sharpen your skills and get 1:1 wheel time with a professional driver sitting shotgun. Space is limited to 24 students. There is an entry fee of $40 per driver.
Get behind the wheel of your Mustang and tour the Black Hills in the four cruises held this week: Military and Veterans Tribute on Wednesday, Fun Run on Thursday, the Poker Run on Friday, and the parade cruise after the Show and Shine.
On Wednesday evening, the Thunderdome will be a barrel of laughs in a low-speed event as couples throw bean bags, lasso, and navigate their cars to be the fastest in the west!
Launch Box and Burnout Competitions
Who can take it from 0-60 and back again in 60 feet? Be one of the three fastest in the Thunderdome on Thursday night. Stay to watch or enter the burnout competition and burn rubber for glory!
Autocross Racing Challenge
Drive your own car or ride along with a professional in this timed course. The first round of this elimination event will be held at the Thunderdome on Friday with both the second round and finals held on Sunday. There will also be powder puff and youth events to enter for Thursday.
Join Justin Pawlak, Professional Drifter-Formula Drift Series, in an exhibition on Friday night. Along with 10 other drifters, he will show us what the thrill of the drift is all about.
Auto Barrel Racing
On Friday night, use your SMR registered “pony” to circle three barrels fast!
Show and Shine
Shine the wheels and pop the hood… now is the time to show off your Mustang on Main Street! Whether you’re a spectator or an owner, this is a “don’t miss” event on Saturday morning.
You’re not racing for pink slips, but you are racing for cash! Join SMR on Saturday for a drag race to determine the fastest of them all!
Show up to Knuckle’s Saloon Pavilion on Saturday afternoon to see what’s up for auction. All things Mustang will be available. If you’d like to consign something, sign up online at: www.sturgismustangrally.com.
Dice Roll to Win a Mustang
Test your luck and roll the dice for a chance to win a Special Edition Ruby Red Bandit created specifically for SMR by ROUSH. See www.sturgismustangrally.com for more info.
Christian Music Entertainer of the Year Tommy Brandt will be bringing “music and a message” to SMR on Sunday this year.
Lawton himself likes to take part in the festivities if he’s not working and jokes about having to miss one in particular.
“I signed up for the driving class and couldn’t do it because I was working the rally. I told my wife to sit in for me. So she did. Next time I came up the canyon, going through the turn, she looks at me and says, ‘Honey, you know you took the turn wrong.’ So she’s educated now. It was cute.”
If you want to enter your car or participate in any of the events, packages and registration are available at www.sturgismustangrally.com. Visit the site for more information on the week’s events. Thanks to the hard work of SMR board members and sponsors, this week looks like the best one yet!
Sturgis Mustang Rally Special Edition #12 "BANDIT" Created by ROUSH!
Ford Chassis Specs
* 400A MUSTANG GT PREMIUM CONVERTIBLE
* RUBY RED METALLIC EXTERIOR PAINT COLOR
* 5.0L V8 COYOTE ENGINE
* GT PERFORMANCE PACK W/6-PISTON BREMBO BRAKES
* 10-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
* 3.55 GEAR RATIO
* ENHANCED SECURITY PACKAGE
* VOICE-ACTIVATED NAVIGATION
ROUSH Package Specs
* ROUSH STAGE 2 PACKAGE
* PERFORMANCE 1-WAY COILOVER SUSPENSION SYSTEM
* RS2 STRUT TOWER BRACE
* FRONT AERO POCKETS AND WHEEL AERO AIDS
* HIGH FLOW-UPPER GRILLE WITH "2" BADGE
* HIGH-FLOW LOWER OPENING
* FRONT CHIN SPOILER
* HOOD HEAT EXTRACTORS
* QUARTER PANEL SIDE SCOOPS
* ROUSH FENDER BADGES
* REAR BLACKOUT PANEL WITH ROUSH BADGING
* REAR VALANCE AIR FOILS
* ROUSH FRONT WINDSHIELD BANNER
* STAGE 2 SERIALIZED ENGINE BAY PLAQUE
* ROUSH LICENSE PLATE & FRAME
* HOOD STRUT LIFT ASSIST
* ROUSH INSTRUMENT GAUGE CLUSTER
* ROUSH EMBROIDERED FLOOR MATS
* ROUSH ILLUMINATED DOOR SILL PLATES
* ROUSH OWNER'S MANUAL SUPPLEMENT
* 700HP ROUSH PHASE 1 R2650 SUPERCHARGER (INSTALLED POST-TITLE BY SCOTT PETERSON MOTORS)
* UPGRADED 20IN GLOSS BLACK 5-SPOKE WHEELS W/CONTINENTAL EXTREMECONTACT SPORT TIRES
* CUSTOM STRIPING (PRIMARY MATTE BLACK STRIPES W/WHITE ACCENTS):
* TOP LEVEL RACING STRIPE W/ BANDIT INSIGNIA
* ROCKER-LEVEL STRIPES W/ SMR12 INSIGNIA
* CUSTOM STURGIS #12 INTERIOR DASH BUILD PLAQUE
* ROUSH QUAD-TIP EXHAUST SYSTEM W/BLACK TIPS
* HEAVY DUTY REAR HALF SHAFTS
* BILLET PEDAL KIT
* CONVERTIBLE STYLING BAR
* ROUSH TRUNK-MOUNTED TOOL KIT
* LOCKING LUG NUTS W/KEY
* ROUSH LEATHER SEATING W/SILVER STITCHING