Indian Motorcycles Celebrates 110 Years at Sturgis Rally

Vintage Indian Motorcycle

Vintage Indian motorcycles (like the one above) will be parked adjacent to the Indian Motorcycle Display for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Aug. 8th thru Aug. 14th.

Indian motorcycles have played a major role in the colorful history of the famed Sturgis Rally. The company recently announced their plans for this year’s 71st annual Sturgis motorcycle rally to be held August 8th through August 14th in Sturgis, South Dakota. For over seven decades, since the first “Black Hills Classic” racing event was first run in 1938, Indian motorcycles have been a featured attraction of the annual rally. Festival organizers expect over 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts and families will attend in 2011.

In addition to the traditional Sturgis activities, Indian Motorcycle has invited all Indian owners to enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow bikers by parking their motorcycles at the Indian Motorcycle Display. The Indian show truck will be parked at the corner of 4th Street and Lazalle in the heart of town and will also feature Indian’s complete line of 2012 motorcycles. Indian motorcycle accessories and apparel will be for sale at the display. E3 spark plugs encourages everyone to show off their ride and share their favorite Indian stories with other motorcyclist attending the weeklong event.

Indian Motorcycle Company will sponsor a breakfast and ride to the famous half-mile track on the morning of flat track races. Those interested in participating should go to the First Presbyterian Church, located downtown at 1319 Junction Avenue between 9:30 am and 10:30 am for breakfast. The scenic ride will leave from the church and wind through Spearfish Canyon before arriving at the Sturgis 1/2 mile race track. Everyone is invited to join in the fun. For additional information on the flat track races, motocross races, or hill climb events checkout the Jack Pine Gypsies motorcycle club website.

In addition, an “Indian Gathering” is slated for Friday, August 12th starting at 6 pm at the Knuckle Saloon located in Sturgis at 931 First Street. The event is open to the public and non-Indian riders who just want to see these classic bikes and hangout with their owners.

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E3 Spark Plugs Honors Early Women Motorcyclists for Women Riders Month

Dorothy "Dot" Robinson co-founded Motor Maids, the nation's first organized, AMA chartered women's motorcycle club and paved the way for women in competitive motorcycle riding and racing.

This May marks the third annual Women Riders Month created by Harley Davidson. E3 Spark Plugs celebrates with a look back at a few of the bold souls who dared to ride back when motorcycles were a decidedly men-only activity:

Effie and Avis Hotchkiss: When young Effie Hotchkiss decided she wanted to see America on the open road, she took a bit of inheritance money and spent it on a 1915 3-speed V-twin Harley Davidson. But mom, Avis, vetoed the idea. After all, it was the height of the Victorian era and ladies just didn’t take off on cross-country bike tours back in the day. Effie protested and Avis finally gave in with one caveat – that Effie take her mom along in a sidecar. They set out from Brooklyn, New York and made it to San Francisco two months later, just in time for the World’s Fair. Their transcontinental trek was the first for women motorcycle riders.

Bessie Stringfield: Stringfield took pushing the social acceptance envelope even further. As not just a woman rider, but an African American rider, she rammed through the racial and gender barriers completing eight, count ‘em EIGHT solo cross-country tours and serving as a United States Army motorcycle dispatch rider traveling through the Southern states during the 1930s. Mind you, this was during a time that daring to be black and successful in the mainstream came with a palpable threat of racial prejudice and violence.

Dorothy “Dot” Robinson: Known as the “First Lady of Motorcycling,” Robinson co-founded Motor Maids in 1940. The organization aimed to unite women who owned motorcycles and was instrumental in convincing women nationwide to give motorcycling a try. Granted an American Motorcycle Association charter in 1941, Motor Maids was the nation’s first organized women’s motorcycle club. With this accomplishment, plus several competitive victories including being the first woman to win an AMA national competition placing first in the sidecar class of the Jack Pine National Endurance Championship, Robinson paved the way for women riders in the competitive arena.

Talk about your spark plug personalities! In her book, The American Motorcycle Girls: 1900 to 1950, author Cristine Sommer Simmons details the lives and accomplishments of Avis and Effie Hotchkiss, Stringfield, Robinson and other pioneering women riders. Check it out and be sure to check with your nearest Harley Davidson dealer for info on Women Riders Month events, including Saturday’s nationwide Women’s Ride Day. And be sure to stock your bike with E3 motorcycle spark plugs for a cleaner, stronger, smoother ride.

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Did Dennis Hopper Really Use E3 Spark Plugs Filming “Easy Rider”?

No, but we think he would have if our motorcycle spark plugs had been around in 1969. Here at E3 Spark Plugs, we’re motorcycle enthusiasts and we love great films and great filmmakers. “Easy Rider” chronicled the story of two counter-culture bikers who set out on a personal odyssey from LA to New Orleans to see America on the ultimate road trip-gone-wrong. With “Easy Rider”, Dennis Hopper (as director, co-writer and actor alongside Peter Fonda), changed the way films were made and helped usher in what is largely considered the “Second Golden Age of American Cinema.”

"Easy Rider" director, co-writer and star Dennis Hopper passed away May 29.

It certainly wasn’t the first motorcycle movie, and many have followed. But, this low-budget, dark horse of a motorcycle movie proved to be an unexpected blockbuster. “Easy Rider” helped rev up interest in America’s biking subculture and is considered a turning point in American filmmaking. Stuck in a financial and artistic depression, Hollywood had no idea what was in store for it when the 1970s dawned. With language, adult content, sexuality and violence restrictions loosened up, plus the swell of the anti-war counter culture and New Wave movements, filmmakers felt a new sense of freedom to experiment not only with film content, but with film production approaches as well.

Here, E3 Spark Plugs pays tribute to the late Hopper, who passed away May 29. Following are five more motorcycle movies we think you’ll want to see – including a few you might never have heard of. Some are worth seeing for their storylines, some for their acting, some for … well, we’re not sure why, except that we just can’t look away when we catch them on cable TV, even if it is 2pm on a Tuesday and there’s work to be done. Take a gander, leave a comment and let us know which is your favorite (or least favorite).

The Wild One (1952): Hollywood great Marlon Brando stars as the leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, a gang of bikers who gate-crash a legitimate motorcycle race and make off with a stolen trophy. While hiding out in small town, Johnny falls for the local sheriff’s daughter. That’s trouble enough, but more comes when a rival gang, the Beetles, rides into town.

Knightriders (1981):
Many moviegoers and motorcycle enthusiasts weren’t quite sure what to make of this one, as it doesn’t exactly fit the motorcycle movie mold. Ed Harris stars as the losing-touch-with-reality leader of a traveling group of medieval fair performers who joust on motorcycles. Members begin to leave the group, seeking Hollywood fame or simply cracking under the pressure. This sends Harris’ character spiraling into a downward quest for redemption and reconnection. Stephen King, on set only because he was working with writer/director George Romero on 1982′s “Creepshow,” makes a cameo as a loudmouthed spectator.

"Captain America" motorcycle ridden by Peter Fonda in 1969's "Easy Rider." Photo courtesy of Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum.

Me and Will (1999): We can only describe this one as “Thelma & Louise” meets “Easy Rider” – almost literally. The two heroines, Will and Jane, burned out from the LA drug and club scene, bust out of rehab and set off on a Holy Grail-esque mission to find the Captain America motorcycle ridden by Peter Fonda in “Easy Riders.” Female bonding, battles with personal demons and clashes with characters they meet along the way ensue – all set against spectacular Montana scenery and a kickin’ soundtrack. As chick flicks often do, this one has a bittersweet ending that mixes victory and loss. And Traci Lords has a cameo as a waitress. Just sayin’.

The World’s Fastest Indian (2005): Based on a true story, this film stars Anthony Hopkins as Burt Monroe, a New Zealander who spends 25 years working to boost the speed of his motorcycle, a 1920 Indian, with the dream of taking for a thrill ride across the Bonneville Salt Flats. Come the early 1960s, Monroe is battling heart disease and facing his own mortality. So he does what any old timer with an unrequited dream would do – He mortgages his house, hops a boat to Los Angeles, buys an old clunker of a car with a makeshift trailer and, after fighting to get the Indian through customs, heads for Utah. With no brakes, no chute and no guarantee his old ticker will survive the drive, he can only hope the powers that be will actually let him on the flats.

Psychomania (1973): This one’s for the B horror flick junkies. A young biker makes a deal with the devil and, with help from his dear old, frog-worshipping occultist mum, dives to his death and leaps out of his grave, still astride his motorcycle. He quickly gets down to business recruiting new members for his band of zombie bikers dubbed the “Living Dead,” who willingly join via a fiendishly funny extreme sports suicide session. But as they say, the devil’s in the details, and this deal turns out to be not quite the one they expected.

So there you have it – E3 Spark Plugs’ list of motorcycle movies we hope you’ll see. It’s by no means a “top” list, but it’s got a nice range: an Old Hollywood classic, a chick flick, a true story, a zombie flick and a … well, we’re still  not sure how to classify a film about Medieval-styled jousting bikers. Tells us what you think of our eclectic selection and send us your own suggestions. And be sure to send some groovy vibes Dennis’ way on your next Easy Ride.

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