Del Kuhn, an AMA hall-of-famer and a key figure in the early days of American offroad racing, has died. He was 95 years old.
Kuhn was born in the midwest, but ended up on the west coast after a stint in the navy through World War II. He became a well-known figure in California’s offroad racing scene, joining the Compton Roughriders Motorcycle Club and racing his military surplus Harley-Davidson. He moved on to Brit desert sleds, a common progression in that post-War era, and started tearing up the woods. He won the Greenhorn Enduro in 1948, 1950 and 1951, and took the Big Bear Endurance Run in 1952.
Kuhn was also one of the original founders of the Catalina GP. Along with Aub LeBard, Kuhn helped establish what was probably the most interesting race in the US through the 1950s. The Catalina GP was a 100-mile event on a 10-mile course, including everything from paved roads to gravel to singletrack. It was the race to attend in its heyday, with actors, motorcycle clubs and other assorted characters making the trip to Santa Catalina Island off LA for the event. Like all good things (especially in the motorcycle world), responsible people shut it down, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted in its original form.
By the late ’50s, Kuhn had quit racing, and focused on his career as a motorcycle patrolman for the California Highway Patrol, retiring from the police force in 1979. He was inducted into the AMA’s Hall of Fame in 2003.