Day one has ended at the Catalina Grand Prix and, as the sun sets over the hills, the harbor city of
Avalon is still bustling with riders and fans alike. Regardless of how the racing went during the course of the day, the atmosphere on the island is so Catalina something that will not be soon forgotten. With riders coming from as far east as New Jersey, and as far south as Argentina, everyone has a story to tell about their day-one experience on Catalina Island.
Over 400 riders took to the course today, and for the most part, the trails were virtually untouched, since the island has been dormant of motorcycle racing for nearly 50 years. Competing on a borrowed 1985 Husky 500, Justin Shultz got a chance to show the Catalina crowd what an old dirt bike can do.
"The bike handled well, but the high-speed chop was just a bit hairy," Shultz said. "The track was smooth, and the back sections were wide open."
Justin quickly became a crowd favorite each and every time he rode past.
The five-mile loop provided for good racing action, as many of the races went a full five laps. A moto section, which featured doubles, a triple, and a spectator friendly mudhole, quickly became the hot spot to watch, as a crowd of Catalina GPan estimated 10,000 was on hand throughout the afternoon.
Kurt Nicoll and Ryan Dudek emerged as the big winners in the 40+ and 30+ classes, respectively, while Jeff Kaplan took top honors in the 50+ class. Behind the leaders in each of their respective races, big-name riders littered the field. Paul Krause and Fred Hatch battled in the 40+ race, while Johnny Campbell and Ronnie Renner traded laps in the Vet race.
The racing action overall has been close and exciting in both the A and B classes. Greg Godfrey of Nitro Circus got the crowd going towards the end of the 40+ race when pulled over in an attempt to clear the triple jump that spanned nearly the entire fairway of the golf course. Making it cleanly, the crowd cheered as he motored on towards the finish.
The locals have really stepped up to support the event. There is a locals-only vendor row that graces the entrance to the track and spectators have been lining up all day long making purchases and donating to some of the local charities..Travis Pastrana
Many riders had their own cheering sections, as families and friends set up camp for the weekend along the five-mile race course.
With darkness drawing near, Red Bull and Nitro Circus have stepped up to host a party, and the streets are filling up with people eager to meet their heroes, such as Travis Pestrana, Kurt Caselli and Kendal Norman, who are all contenders in tomorrow's Pro event.
Racing action starts early tomorrow, as the first race leaves the start line at eight a.m.. Six races are scheduled for Sunday, and starting things off early is the Woman's event, where 30 participants will take a shot at making history and being the first Woman Champion at the Catalina Grand Prix.Catalina GP
"The lady at sign-up actually thought I was joking, " said National Women's Hare & Hound Champion Joanna Kaczmarek. "She said that girls weren't supposed to race dirt bikes, and that she couldn't believe I was here to do so!"
The weekend comes to a close with the GPR Stabilizers Pro race, as three Pro classes are filled with names that are sure to make for a fun afternoon of racing.