The impossible dream became a reality this weekend, as the Catalina Grand Prix returned to the Island of Catalina for the first time in over 50 years. An estimated 20,000 people travelled to the small island off the Southern California coast to be part of the resurection of the famed raceKendal Norman.
Seventy class championships were up for grabs over the weekend, including the premier class – the Pro race, which marked the final event of what was a very successful weekend of racing. And that race belonged to JCR Honda rider Kendal Norman.
The racing action got underway Sunday morning with the Heavyweight event, and FMF/KTM rider Kurt Caselli rode off to victory but not before a tussle with Norman. At one point, the two riders locked handlebars with Norman getting the raw end of the deal. Norman went down and spent the rest of the race working his way back up through the pack.
Travis Pastrana, on the Red Bull/DC Shoes-back Suzuki, held down second place for much of the one-hour race before crashing in a mud hole and giving way to Lucas Oil’s Colton Haaker and Norman, who had made excellent headway on JCR Honda.
Caselli went on to take the win, followed by Haaker and Norman. Pastrana would end up fifth.
After the Heavyweights, the Women, Minis and 60+ racers hit the track. Brooke Hodges made history by winning the Women’s race and becoming the first female to take home a class championship at the Catalina GP.
Michael Drews took top honors in the 60+ division, but the talk of the race was Mini-class rider Tucker Larrieu.Kurt Caselli leads Kendal Norman in Pro race.
Larriew had the crowd in awe as he cleared some of the large doubles and triples on his Kawasaki KX85 that some of the A-class riders would not dare.
In the final race of the weekend, Norman and Caselli jumped out in front just like they had done in the Heavyweight race. Pastrana and Logan Holliday were right there as well. This time, Norman stayed clear of Caselli and settled into second place, right behind the KTM rider.
The two riders led the way for the first hour of the 90-minute race, while Caselli steadily gained an inch here and there on the Honda rider. Just past the halfway point, Caselli’s bike suddenly came to a screeching halt and died, giving Norman the lead. Caselli pushed his bike back to the pits and had to settle with a DNF.
Norman continued to breeze along in the lead until the last lap when Honda rider Sean Collier began to get uncomfortTravis Pastranaably close.
With 20 minutes to go, and an eager crowd waiting to see who would be the fastest today, troubles struck another front-runner, as Pastrana was forced to return to camp by way of a Red Bull golf cart. Afterwards, Pastrana explained that his RM250 Suzuki two-stroke had seized, and that he thought he might have filled it with straight gas, causing the engine to lock up.
Norman, meanwhile, took the white flag still out in front and managed to hold off Collier for the win. Haaker ended up third.
Other class winners on the day included Ryan Dudek who took top honors in the 30+ class after a hard-fought battle with Red Bull’s Ronnie Renner.
KTM’s Kurt Nicoll took first-place honors in the 40+ class.
Overall, the return of the Catalina Grand Prix was well-received by city officials and the local residents, but no decision has been yet been made as to if the event will return next year.