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BAJA’S TWO-WHEEL HEROES SCORE’s Greatest Motorcycle Racers Of All Time Part VII – Kendall Norman By Story by Dennis “Ketchup” Cox. Photo by Jack Wright, nMedia3 The next generation of Desert Racers is making their mark in the history books, ensuring their names will be as familiar as past legends in Baja Racing history. For San Diego native Kendall Norman, his reputation as a talented, hard-driving racer, who has continued to dominate the dirt bike classes, has already etched his name as one of Baja’s greatest motorcycle racers. Norman has a winning record in which he virtually dominated the SCORE Baja 1000 dirt bike class for nearly a decade, winning the SCORE Baja 1000 Overall seven times (from 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, & 2011, 2021). He also has three SCORE point championships, five Overall wins at SCORE Baja 500, and three Overall wins at the SCORE San Felipe 250. Norman began his career when his dad, Morris Norman, a desert/enduro racer, got him his first dirt bike, a PW50, when he was only four years old (the same age and bike that his good buddy Robby Bell had). “My first race was a motocross event at Castaic, California. I was twelve or thirteen years old at the time. I raced the 80 Beginner class and got fifth or sixth place. That was it for me. I loved it. Just like every other kid starting out. “My dad was always more of an Enduro/Desert racer. He didn’t really want me racing Baja-type events. At least at first. I raced Motocross for a couple of years and had a bit of a wild reputation. I came down once and raced Baja in 2003. I fell in love with it! The next year, I was invited down and joined the official factory Honda race team and got my first overall win. That was it. I was hooked for life. “It wasn’t until I got into racing a Honda CRF450X that I raced calmer, slowed down, and went faster. I give a lot of credit to the late Honda Baja Team manager, Bruce Ogilvie, for giving me the confidence and coaching I needed to race in Baja. Also, Johnny Campbell and his JCR Honda, and my teammates over there, really helped me as well. It’s almost always a team effort to do well down at an event like the Baja 1000. You couldn’t ask for better teammates. Robby Bell and I have teamed up a lot– he’s a great guy and we have a lot of overall wins down there.” Aside from his experience in what is considered one of the best off-road motorcycle teams in Baja racing at the time, Norman simply loved the Baja environment. “What I also liked about racing in Baja, was getting chased by dogs, riding on the street legally, eating tacos, and enjoying the clean, crisp air along the coast,” said Norman. “These are all vital ingredients and are what help separate racing down the Baja peninsula from anyplace in the world. But like anything else that embraces danger, there is sometimes a heavy price to pay to participate.” The dangers of off-road racing significantly shaped Norman’s racing career. “My childhood buddy, Cody Quinn, and I first started out racing Hondas. My whole life I raced Hondas. In 2013 though, I took a break and started racing KTM’s. That was the year Kurt Casselli had his accident. That, and Danny Hamel’s death down there a few years earlier were two of the biggest tragedies in racing at the time. Those two deaths fundamentally changed the nature of racing down there,” recalled Norman. “Somehow, my career fell into place right after Danny Hamel’s death. When you’re racing, particularly down there, you have got to put that out of your head. That’s just the way it is. And then, Kurt Casselli’s death, on top of it all. That affected me greatly. Death is a rare part of modern racing and so are accidents. It put us all on notice though. There is a price to pay for racing. Sometimes it’s the ultimate price.” While Norman is getting back into racing, he still shows his championship form when he competes. His last race was at the 2021 SCORE Baja 1000, winning the Pro Moto Unlimited class as co-rider on the 1x team of Mark Samuels, with co-riders Justin Morgan, and Brandon Prieto. SJ

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