‘Full Throttle Saloon’–Site of TruTV Reality Show– Destroyed by Fire

RIP, Full Throttle Saloon
RIP, Full Throttle Saloon

It’s a sad day for bikers and the tiny town of Sturgis, South Dakota, which comes alive every year during the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Full Throttle Saloon, located in Sturgis and known for its Bike Week hi-jinks, was destroyed by a massive fire yesterday, reducing the famous bar to ashes.

The Full Throttle Saloon was the setting for the TruTV reality show of the same name, which aired on TruTV from 2009-2013. The reality show documented the operation of the saloon, which is dubbed the World’s Largest Biker Bar, and the people who worked there. The massive bar, which sits on 30 acres of land, included cabins for patrons to stay in, a “Burnout Pit,” live entertainment stages and a tattoo parlor, among other things. The Saloon also featured a distillery, a factor that may have helped the fire escalate quickly.

The Full Throttle Saloon is owned by Michael Ballard and his family.

Although TruTV stopped filming new episodes of ‘Full Throttle Saloon’ in 2013, reruns still air on the Reel Channel.

According to the Rapid City Journal, the fire broke out just before midnight and reduced the bar’s main building to a “total loss.”

Tracy Ryan, who worked at the Full Throttle Saloon up until earlier this year, tells The Ashley that she and the bar’s other employees–both current and former–were devastated to hear the news that the bar had been destroyed. Although the reality show featured a lot of drama, Tracy said that behind-the-scenes, everyone got along and acted like a big family.

“It took them over 15 years to make that bar such a sensation,” she told The Ashley. “The people who work there and the entire Ballard family aren’t what you see on the show. They are truly amazing good-hearted people. We really are like a extended family; we all have each others backs. It’s intense but the bartenders all do get along really well. We all have this weird gypsy bond.”

Part of the Full Throttle Saloon's backyard, before the fire...
Part of the Full Throttle Saloon’s backyard, before the fire…

The newspaper reports that no one was injured in the blaze, and Tracy tells The Ashley that the bar’s pet donkey, Emmett, survived as well.

“There’s a donkey that lives there, but he’s not a typical donkey,” she said. “He’s like our dysfunctional family dog. [After the fire], everyone was trying to find out about Emmett.”

TruTV posted about the fire on its Twitter account this morning.

“Very sad to hear this AM that the #FullThrottleSaloon burned down. Thankfully, it seems no one was hurt.”

The Full Throttle Saloon is not the only reality TV landmark to go up in flames recently. In October, High Voltage Tattoo, the tattoo shop that served as the setting for Kat Von D‘s reality show LA Ink burned down. The shop is now operating out of the building next door while its main building is repaired.

It is not yet known whether or not Full Throttle Saloon will reopen.

Take a look back at this classic clip from ‘Full Throttle Saloon’…

(Top photo: TruTV, Bottom photo: Courtesy of Tracy Ryan)


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