The small island off the coast of Southern California, better known as Catalina, was shaken with more than just its roaming buffalo herds and tourist-driven Segways this past weekend. The Red Bull Catalina Grand Prix renewed a racing tradition that has been on hiatus for the past 52 years.
Considered one of California’s most renowned motorcycles races, the Catalina GP was held on the island between 1951 and 1958. It was widely viewed as one of the most unique and prestigious races of the era.
Red Bull revamped the race for 2010, inviting 800 riders to tackle a newly-minted six-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. They 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.
Many notable “young” motocross racers showed up as well, including Travis Pastrana, Kurt Caselli, Ronnie Renner and Andy Bell. The event culminated in the final Pro Race, where Kendall Norman, four-time Baja 1000 winner and 2010 AMA National Hare & Hound champion, took first place, narrowly besting Caselli and young EnduroCross ace Colton Haaker.
“The race was awesome today - it was pretty heated, and people were really battling it out,” said Norman, pictured at left. “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.”
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.
Pastrana was one of the many to get wrapped up in the history of the event. “I’m just so excited to be back on a bike, and I couldn’t believe how many legends came back for this event,” he said. “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.”
RED BULL CATALINA GRAND PRIX RESULTS
- Red Bull Catalina GP gallery
- Red Bull's motocross page
- Travis Pastrana makes the move to NASCAR
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