Catalina Grand Prix Returns for 2012

Catalina GP

You never know just how a motorcycle event is going to go over with the public. Especially when you mount an off-road grand prix on a sleepy little island paradise.

The island paradise here is Santa Catalina, about 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. And the event was the 2010 Catalina Island Grand Prix, which re-awoke the island to the sound of motorcycles after a 52-year hiatus.

Regardless of the sentimental value of resurrecting this prestigious race, I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Well, evidently, the racers and fans made a good impression on the locals because it seems Catalina will be hosting another grand prix in 2012.

The official announcement was made yesterday, April 27, by the Santa Catalina Island Company and the City of Avalon.

Santa Catalina Island will host the Grand Prix in December of 2012 and the island promises a week-long celebration with an expanded line-up of activities.

Brad Wilson (Senior Vice President of Sales and Chief Marketing Officer for Santa Catalina Island Company) says: “SCICo felt that additional planning was needed in order to make the Grand Prix more unique to the Island and more special than if it was just an annual event on the normal race calendar.

“SCICo will take an active role in securing sponsorships with the City as well as administration to enhance the overall visitor experience.”

Race operations, safety and logistics will continue to be handled by the City of Avalon and will share the permitting process and expenses with SCICo over the next 18 months leading up to the event.

For 2012 the event planners are preparing additional activities intended to make for an extended island trip for participants and spectators alike, including one to two days of practice, improved spectator areas, a Concourse of Classic Motorcycles, a vintage 1950’s Grand Prix display, V.I.P. food and beverage areas, top name entertainment in the classic Casino Ballroom, a parade of motorcycles, top racers from around the world, and an electric motorcycle exhibition race.

Word has it that major sponsors are lining up to support the Grand Prix (which will take place on SCICo land) and race organizers are anticipating another sold-out event.

The Catalina Grand Prix was a famous race that took place during the 50s. The event was brought back in 2010, 52 years after the last race, as an experiment with an uncertain future. It was an unmitigated success.

The 2010 race was a full reprisal of the old event, featuring a 6-plus-mile course over dirt, pavement, cliffs, and hills, with a special motocross section. The 2012 Grand Prix lay-out is expected to follow a similar course, providing a highly unique experience for riders and spectators.

Put this one on the calendar. It’s not to be missed.

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Photo credit: Garth Milan and Simon Cudby