Sometimes, the destination means just as much to a car show as the quality of the vehicles that attend. The Black Hills of South Dakota is one such journey’s end for a growing number of gearheads, including Camaro owners.
The 6th Annual Sturgis Camaro Rally has grown from a meager 10 cars in 2011 to more than 250 multi-generation Camaros gathered on the same Main Street from June 23 through 26, where thousands of Harley-Davidson’s will park during the world famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. “Cruising the Black Hills is a huge draw,” says show chairperson Alexiss Miller. “And our goal is to also fill Main Street.”
So Much To See
Aside from the well-known tourist attractions like Mount Rushmore, the casinos of historic Deadwood, and the nature-rich Custer State Park, some of the most beautiful and car-friendly roads can be found in the Black Hills. Many “Best Driving Roads” compilations include nearby Spearfish Canyon, and the incredibly scenic Iron Mountain Road. Finally, Needles Highway will certainly challenge your vehicle’s turning radius.
Cruising the Black Hills is a huge draw. – Alexiss Miller
So Much To Do
During the event, there are drag racing and autocross competitions to parade one’s driving skills, and if you want to show your respect to our nation’s war heroes, drop by a mini show ‘n shine at nearby Ft. Meade. Sponsored by the local Fox affiliate KEVN TV, this year’s event welcomed residents of a local hospital to pick their favorites, and Camaros Unlimited sponsored the awards.
The Sturgis Camaro Rally continues to grow, thanks to the dedication of numerous volunteers and the drive of Alexiss Miller of Baker, Montana and Rita Herding of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “My husband, Brandon, built my ’69 Camaro in 2010,” remembers Miller. “We read in the newspaper about the first-annual Sturgis Camaro Rally, and decided to go.”
The Rally was conceived by Bernie Pettis, whom Miller says will always be known as “the founder who had the idea.” Less than a dozen cars showed up to the first show. Fortunately, Miller and Herding were there and assumed a leadership role in the organization.
“We wanted to make this show big, because the Mustangs already have a rally here,” says Miller, also noting that Corvettes and street rods have major events in the Black Hills. “We needed a Rally in Sturgis for Camaros.”
Facebook and other social media outlets proved to be a gold mine for drawing car owners to the second show, which recorded around 150 registered entries.
“We worked the clubs and Camaro forums,” says Miller. “Loud American (a Sturgis nightclub) helped us set up a webpage as part of the sponsorship, and we advertised in some magazines. Also, Scott Settlemire (also known as the Godfather of the F-body) brought out a new ZL1 and really helped us promote the event.”
At the same time, several local Camaro owners wanted to resurrect the Black Hills Camaro Club. Since then, rally organizers and the Camaro club have worked closely together to organize the annual show.
According to officials, 232 cars were officially registered at the show, and dozens more could be found parked on the surrounding streets. Several Camaro owners chose to not enter their cars in the show, but simply walk through the show and cruise the hills that weekend.
“We had 265 last year,” says Miller. “I had about 30 or 40 from my Canadian group not show up because the exchange rate hurt their ability to attend. It’s a shame. We miss them. They’re a good group.”
So Much More Than Just A Single Event
Some other events within this gathering include a parade to the nearby town of Whitewood following the burnout contest, which is formally called the Loud American Road House Loud Pipes contest. Saturday’s schedule finished with a banquet and awards ceremony at the Iron Horse Saloon. Sunday is getaway day, but there is a final fun run that features a group photo at the famed Crazy Horse Memorial.
While the Camaro Rally is dominated by fifth-gen cars, some of the more creative entries are from the early years. Updated suspensions, cooler exterior colors, and more powerful engines were spotted in many sections. “Last year we had 175 fifth-generation cars,” says Miller. “That’s what’s popular now.”
For more information on next year’s show, check out the Rally’s website.