The Catalina Grand Prix was a motorcycle race held annually between 1950 and 1958 on the island of Santa Catalina off the coast of Los Angeles. The races were hotly contested, and the rules that governed races on the mainland didn’t apply – meaning it was a hotbed of race testing with cutting edge parts fitted to motorcycles that were tuned to within an inch of their lives.
Racing was divided into two classes – 250cc and over 250cc. The 250cc race was 60 miles in total made up of 10 laps over a 6 mile course, and the over 250cc race was 100 miles.
There are only two ways to get to Santa Catalina – plane or boat. Most competitors made the journey on the steamer, with the factory-backed boys loading their bikes and gear into aircraft for the 17 minute flight. Many have called the Catalina Grand Prix the American Isle of Man TT – and the comparison is apt. Just as the Isle of Man is a motorcycle race on an island made up of daring men and their cutting edge machines so was the Catalina Grand Prix – until it was axed in 1958.