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Lake Elsinore Grand Prix Returns!

by Richard Backus

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Lake Elsinore, 1971
Start of the Lake Elsinore GP, 1971, from the film On Any Sunday. 

Get that classic dirt bike out, because the legendary Lake Elsinore GP, made famous in Bruce Brown’s epic 1971 film, On Any Sunday, is returning this November 7-8, 2009. The original 1969-1972 race became so well known it inspired Honda to borrow the Elsinore name for its CR125M and CR250M dirt bikes introduced in 1973.

Since being revived in 1996, the Lake Elsinore GP has had its ups and downs, but this year it looks poised to return in style thanks to renewed interest by potential competitors and, importantly, the local government, which sees the event as a great way to bolster flagging revenues. The local parks and rec department has been leading the charge to revive the race, working closely with Podium Productions/Storm Entertainment and Diamond Stadium to organize the event. While the city has supported previous efforts to keep the race going, this time around it feels different, with Elsinore mayor Bob Magee personally involving himself to help make sure the Elsinore GP continues.

Lake Elsinore GP route map
Route map for the 2009 Elsinore GP. 

This is really good news for the classic bike community, and especially the classic dirt bike community. Although the planned 7.2-mile course will mostly keep riders away from downtown, it does include a good portion of the infamous GP hillside course just beyond the original downtown starting point. Better yet, it also includes a section that hasn’t been used since the original races. Start/Finish will be at Diamond Stadium, which will also double as the race vendor, providing concessions, camping and the pit area.

There will be over a dozen classes, including classes for minibikes, women and riders 70 and older, and there’ll also be a special “Harvey Mushman 100 Miles” purse, named in honor of actor and offroad rider Steve McQueen, who rode the original Elsinore GP under the pseudonym Harvey Mushman.

If you’re in the great LA-area you need to go to this race. This is exactly the type of event the classic bike crowd needs to support, and if it goes as we think it will it could help rekindle interest in classic dirt racing and classic bikes in general. Be there! – Richard Backus 

Check out the video below from last year’s Elsinore GP!