Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Lake Elsinore Grand Prix

The Elsinore Grand Prix is a dirt bike race that takes place in and around the Lake Elsinore area, starting and finishing in downtown Lake Elsinore. The annual race is usually held in mid-November. The popularity of the event hit its apex in the late 1960s and early 1970s drawing the likes of Dirtbike greats such as Malcolm Smith and Steve McQueen to name a few. The race has always been set as an “open” format, meaning that anyone can ride, usually only about 200 or so take this event seriously, whereas the rest use it as an opportunity to have fun. In 1971 the documentary movie On Any Sunday by Bruce Brown was filmed.

In the mid-1970s the Elsinore Grand Prix hit a snag, none of the big riders were participating and the event was drawing the wrong crowd, mostly violent motorcycle gangs. The Grand Prix was canceled indefinitely soon afterwards. In 1996 several dirt bike riders, with a hint of nostalgia, decided to lobby the City of Lake Elsinore to revive the Grand Prix. Promising that the violent motorcycle gang crowd drawn to the Grand Prix in the 1970s had gone and that dirt bike motorcycle riding was more of a family event, the city allowed the event to resume on a provisional basis.
Picture : Malcolm Smith at Lake Elsinore courtesy of the AMA's Motorcycle hall of fame Museum

SteveMcQueen competed in the 3rd Lake Elsinore Grand Prix riding on a 405-cc Motocross Husky in a field of 500 bikes over the 10 mile course.
"When you're runnin' with the top ten, as I was, you're really honkin' on pretty good an' what happpens is that with so many bikes choppin' up the dirt the holes in the course get worse...deeper with each lap.
I was comin' out of a wash under a bridge with this road dip ahead and I just kinda took one of those big jumps where you're sure you're gonna make it but you don't. And I didn't. My bike nosed into the dip, which was, like, deep - and I went ass-over the bars into the crowd. Didn't hurt anybody but me. My left foot was busted in six places."
This wasn't enough to stop him however, as he got back on the bike and finished the race, still finishing in the top ten!

No comments:

Post a Comment