Historic Motorcycle Race Takes Place on Catalina Island for First Time Since 1958.
Kendall Norman Wins Pro Race.
Avalon, CA – History was made this weekend as the Red Bull Catalina Grand Prix, one of California’s most renowned motorcycles races, made a triumphant return after a 52-year hiatus. The famed race, which was held on the island between 1951 and 1958, was widely considered one of the most unique and prestigious races of the era. The weekend’s cloudy skies and chilly temperatures didn’t stop the more than 800 riders from tackling the newly minted 6-mile course, which featured a variety of terrain including a challenging motocross section and a fire road that took racers up winding turns and around steep bluffs high above the port city of Avalon.
The rebirth of the race brought some of the riders who had competed in Catalina in the 1950s back to ride the island track once more. This included Homer Knapp, who took to the course on Saturday on the same 1920s Harley Davidson he rode in the Catalina race in the 1950s. Bob Sandgren, who won the race in 1957 and 1958, also returned to serve as Grand Marshal. Other Catalina race veterans included Preston Petty and John Rice. The festivities kicked off with a parade lap of the racers through downtown Avalon, where hundreds lined the streets to cheer on their favorites from both yesteryear and today.
Other noteworthy racers included Hall of Famer Malcolm Smith, motocross and off-road champion Rick Johnson, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Olympic skier Daron Rahlves, who won his race. Many notable "young" racers showed up as well, including Travis Pastrana, Kurt Caselli, Ronnie Renner, Jessy Nelson, Johnny Campbell and Quinn Cody. Pastrana’s Nitro Circus pals Andy Bell, Gregg Godfrey and Kurt Nicoll also lined up. The event culminated in the final Pro Race, where Kendall Norman, coming off his fifth Baja 1000 win and the 2010 AMA National Hare & Hound championship, took first place, besting young EnduroCross ace Colton Haacker. Caselli had a mechanical issue and had to drop out, as did Pastrana, who was running in the top-three when his bike seized.
Norman joins Bud Ekins (who performed the famous fence jump in "The Great Escape" for Steve McQueen) and Bob Sandgren (the race’s only two-time winner) as champion of the island spectacle.
"The race was awesome today - it was pretty heated, and people were really battling it out," said Norman. "The whole experience was amazing: the island, the course, the vibe, everything. I’ve won a lot of races this year, but this is definitely one of my favorites. I’m honored that I was able make a little history today."
"I’m just so excited to be back on a bike, and I couldn’t believe how many legends came back for this event," said Pastrana. "I really enjoyed the whole experience - I couldn’t believe the enthusiasm of the fans here on Catalina. People were cheering all the way around the track! This really is an amazing place."
The festivities also included a special screening of the film Nitro Circus Greatest Hits, held at the famous Catalina Casino’s theater. The screening raised $5,000 and all proceeds went to the Island Motorcycle Club (IMC), which organized the Catalina Grand Prix in the 1950s and is now a charity supporting young riders on the island.
Red Bull Catalina Grand Prix followed its 1950s open class tradition by providing races for a wide variety of engine displacements and skill levels. There were 12 races over the two days, with an average of 50 riders per race. The Red Bull Catalina Grand Prix was AMA-sanctioned, and all AMA rules were followed.
RED BULL CATALINA GRAND PRIX RESULTS
Heavyweight (Race 8)
1. Kurt Caselli
2. Kendall Norman
3. Jimmy O’Neal
Pro +18 (Race 12)
1. Kendall Norman
2. Sean Collier
3. Colton Haacker
Pro +30 (Race 12)
1. Ryan Dudek
2. David Pingree
3. Ronnie Renner
Pro +40 (Race 12)
1. Kurt Nicoll
2. Tod Sciaqua
3. Rick Johnson
Past winners of the Catalina Grand Prix: Walt Fulton (1951), Nick Nicholson (1952), John McLaughlin (1953), Jim Johnson (1954), Bud Ekins (1955), Chuck "Feets" Minert (1956) and Bob Sandgren (1957 and 1958).
Gary Woodling (170), Michael Fontanarosa (155) and Jon Munns (188) ride though downtown Avalon during the Red Bull Catalina Grand Prix parade lap.
More information is available at www.redbullusa.com/catalinagp.