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K&N's Justin Rastegar Competes in the 16th Annual Oklahoma Gold Rush Mid-America Grand Prix Race

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The stacked start of the motorcycle GP endurance race
The stacked start of the motorcycle GP endurance race
Anyone who has ever watched the movie On Any Sunday or has an affiliation with motorcycles knows what rigors constitute a grand prix motorcycle race. A grand prix race brings to mind images of vintage two-stroke motorcycles smoking their way through tight city streets, blasting off into country roads and into fast dirt racing segments. For most people motorcycle grand prix races are a thing of the past; something that some will never experience. While the combination of dirt and street courses in this format are becoming rare there is still one race that has been growing for 16 years - The Oklahoma Gold Rush Mid-America Grand Prix Championship. This race was created by Norm McDonald and friends and family, and is one of the last Grand Prix races alive in America.

Norm McDonald, an avid motorcycle enthusiast, grew up in Riverside, California and was one of the founders of K&N Engineering. When he left K&N and California he moved to Oklahoma to continue running his motorcycle dealership. He took part of his old California life with him and that was Grand Prix racing. He had grown up racing famous races such as the Lake Elsinore and Catalina Grand Prix and wanted to see them continue. Norm said that people in the Midwest had never seen anything like what he was about to bring to them. The dual surface racing provides an entertaining venue where racers are tested on their all-around skills on a bike and not just on component of racing.
Justin taking Sam and Norm's advice and 'backing it in'
Justin taking Sam and Norm's advice and 'backing it in'


The OK Gold Rush is a two day race based at the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The first day saw all the classes of racing motorcycles, quads, and side-by-sides on the course, and classes were split up by vehicle and skill level. With over 800 entries and 3,000 spectators it was quite a show. It started out with the team races, which were two-hour endurance races around a 10 mile loop.

Justin Rastegar, a K&N Product Specialist who attended and participated in the race said, "As a K&N employee I come to work these events and give product support to participants and spectators alike. At this race I was lucky enough to be able to participate in some of the most fun racing I have ever done. On the first day I teamed up with a rider Mark Olley who is part of MDS (Motorcycle Dealer Services) and Bell Helmets. He and I used his 2008 RMZ-450, freshly equipped with a K&N YA-2506XD air filter and KN-207 oil filter. Unfortunately for me, Mark entered in the pro class with the likes of repeat Daytona Sport Bike Champion Danny Eslick, AMA Motocross Champion Guy Copper, and many other riders that don't sit at a desk like I do all day.
A tight chicane on the short course
A tight chicane on the short course


Like most GPs it was a dead start facing backwards so when the flag is dropped, the riders had to spin around and start their bike, then head straight at a single mound of dirt that shot you straight up in the air. Mark started us on the race and stalled it, letting the entire line get away from him. Once he got it going he made up for it by wheeling up the entire front straight and had people yelling, 'That must be that street bike champion kid!' After the first turn he had already made it to the mid of the pack.

After a lap he handed it over to me with no clutch lever which makes a bike pretty hard to ride. The pits were located on the street portion of the course so once you started you had about a mile of going flat out as fast as a 450 could take you on paved roads. With dirt tires you were in a controlled crash at every turn. Hitting speeds in excess of 70 mph on a dirt bike gets pretty squirrely, and to compound that issue this bike was covered in mud and very slippery. The street turned to grass and you didn't really slow down until you hit the motocross/endurocross section that was built with obstacles like jumps and mud pits. I thought the bike was too clean so I dropped it in the mud pit the first lap just to make things more realistic.

The obstacle course was followed by 8 miles of Oklahoma's finest single tracks. These were tight, but fast and technical sections through Norm's wooded property. The woods had event sponsors' banners placed all through them and when I saw the K&N banner, I crashed into a thick bush. Later in the race I didn't think things were hard enough with no clutch so I dropped it in the creek bed and broke off the front brake lever. Despite all my mishaps Mark was still able to keep us in 11th place.
Justin breaking away from the pack on Sam's YZF-250
Justin breaking away from the pack on Sam's YZF-250


This racing was extremely exciting because you could see drivers' and riders' skills in transitioning between racing mediums. I particularly enjoyed watching the side-by side races. A few of them ended up going end over end in brutal crashes but besides one broken leg, there were no serious injuries during the race and the promoters kept every one safe.

The next day solo races took place on the same long GP loop. Once they were finished with all the long course races, things transitioned to a short course race that was equal road and dirt sections. For the bikes this would be considered more like a supermoto course. Sam McDonald, Norm's son, sponsored me with his team K&N Motorcycles Yamaha YZF-250 with class C dirt track tires on it. After the side-by-sides and quads ran, motorcycles were up. In my qualifier I hit a fence post with my handle bars and almost went down but was able to qualify 3rd, putting me on the front grid.
Justin raises his trophy with a Miss Oklahoma contestant
Justin raises his trophy with a Miss Oklahoma contestant


I personally like shorter courses because I get a better gauge of my speed and time and on which sections I need to go faster. Sam McDonald, being a road racing champion, pulled me aside and gave me some pointers. He gave me a short lesson on controlled sliding on the road called 'backing it in in' (supermoto terms). Norm McDonald, 'The Big Boss,' also drove by on his golf cart and yelled, 'Get a better start!' With all the wisdom the McDonald family gave me I knew I had to do well. In the main event I started towards the middle of the pack but slowly picked people off until I was in 3rd again. I saw Sam around the last turn wave me on and that pumped me up to pull into 2nd. I thought I could reel in 1st place but before I knew it the race was over. After the race, getting to talk to Norm about making it to the podium was priceless.

Coming from California I never knew that the Mid-West could be as fun as it was. The OK Gold Rush was my first Grand Prix but hopefully not the last. For anyone that has the opportunity to go, I would highly recommend racing in one of the many classes they have to offer. Meeting the organizers and the participants alone was worth the trip and the icing on the cake was the big trophy I got to take home as a souvenir."

Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.

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K&N Engineering in Riverside California is the world's leading manufacturer of washable performance air filters and air intake systems. K&N invented the reusable high flow cotton air filter in 1969 and has been perfecting the technology ever since. K&N is a world class filtration company selling air filters, oil filters, and intakes in over 30 countries. K&N sells over 5,000 products designed for cars, trucks, motorcycles, engines, and industrial applications. From their Million Mile Warranty to their Consumer Protection Pledge, K&N stands behind their products and their consumers 100%. The distinctive K&N logo represents performance from one of the original performance companies. For more information, visit knfilters.com.