IMS Products Looks Back and Forward at the Catalina Grand Prix
From 1951 to 1958, the Catalina Grand Prix was one of the biggest motorcycle races on the West Coast. Held in the beautiful city of Avalon on California’s Santa Catalina Island, the Catalina Grand Prix was immensely popular amongst both fans and riders. Unfortunately, the event stopped in 1958 and many feared the race would never return.
Fast-forward to the present – in just one month, the Catalina Grand Prix returns to the island after a 52-year long hiatus.
Projected to be “the most unique motorcycle race in 50 years,” promoters received authorization to run the race earlier in 2010 and immediately created a buzz that spread through the Internet almost immediately. Riders and racers from dirt to street and beginner to pro are eager and excited to be a part of the historic event.
The Catalina Grand Prix brought out some of motorcycle racing’s best riders of the time. AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inductee Walt Fulton, riding aboard a Triumph, won the inaugural running of the race in 1951. The next year, another Hall of Fame Inductee, Nick Nicholson, took the top spot aboard a BSA. All around off-road legend Chuck “Feets” Minert and famed stuntman Bud Ekins, both Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inductees, were race winners at the Grand Prix, as well.
This year’s event, to be held on December 4th and 5th, will look a bit different, as the Triumphs, BSAs, and Matchless motorcycles will be replaced with modern machines such as Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha and KTM.
Already signed up for the upcoming event, are riders representing a “Who’s Who” of top competitors. The rider who ends up winning the race will look a little different then those who came before. The leather riding suits of days gone by have been replaced with modern materials, plastic, and carbon fiber. Essentially though, the 2010 winner will be a younger version of the legends who came before.
Speaking of the legends, there are many of the original racers planning on making it out to the event and participate! There is never too much of a good thing. One thing for sure, the participants can expect to see many glimpses into the past, both on the track and off. The spirit of the racers, and the Island itself remain the same.