By every measure, Johnny Campbell Racing's (JCR) Kendall Norman has "arrived" as one of Off-Road racing's premier competitors. Riding for Honda Off-Road Racing in 2007, he teamed with Robby Bell to win the Baja 250, with Bell and Steve Hengeveld to win the Baja 500, and with Bell, Hengeveld and Campbell to take the overall Baja 1000 win. As an "A" team rider for JCR, Norman carries the high hopes and expectations of the JCR/Honda team -- on his shoulders.
So far, the Santa Barbara native hasn't disappointed. Despite taking time off in the spring of 2008 to recover from ACL surgery, Norman returned in time to compete in the 2008 Baja 500 with fellow JCR "A" team rider Bell and the duo took the overall win -- and the third straight 500 for Honda.
Norman joined the Honda team in 2004 and was an immediate performer, helping Campbell and Hengeveld win the Baja 1000. In 2006, victories included the 24 Hours of Glen Helen, the San Felipe 250, multiple wins in the District 37 Big 6 GP series, the top spot at the Baja 500 and an impressive runner up at the Baja 1000 with Campbell and Bell. His climb to prominence might swell the head of any young racer seeking acclaim, but the accomplished 26-year-old is quick to point out the support he has received along the way.
"Before I started riding for Honda, I was little bit more wild and untamed," he said. "I would just go too fast where I didn't need to. Since the time I got a spot on the team, I've learned huge amounts and it's just helped my racing so much. They definitely slowed me down and taught me how to be more consistent. Every day working with those guys and riding with them, you learn something new. You're just constantly learning and the more experience you get, the better off you are. And it seems like as each race goes on, I'm just a little bit better, and I'm learning things a little better. I've definitely learned never to give up!"
"You always want to win. But I've always just wanted to perform better," said Norman. "If I leave a race and I know I did my very best, I'm happy with myself."