Photos by Dan and Chris Alamangos
Brazilian Antonio Balbi (3) won both motos of the 450 Pro class, but had to run down Finland's Mauno Hermunen in the first moto.
It’s not that it doesn’t rain in Southern California, just that it hasn’t rain in Southern California for months. When you add this to winter temperatures that have been in the 80s for almost two months, the recent drizzle that settled over Glen Helen on Friday was a relief. It brought with it cooler temperatures (not cold, but in the 60s) and much needed ground water for a track that has been parched by hot temperatures and high winds.
Klint Stapes (210) and Jason Ramsey (285) battle for fourth in the 450 Pros. Stapes would get the spot by day's end.
The rain was so welcome that when Scott Williams was asked what brought him to REM on Saturday, he said his wife told him that he needed to race “because the dirt would be epic.” And it was. Scott went 6-7 in the Over-50 Intermediates and had a big smile on his face—as did his wife who came with him to watch.
Oh the wonders of a Super Mini. Mitchell Falk (612) could race his KTM Super Mini is the Super Mini class, 250 class or, as he chose at REM, the 125 two-stroke class.
We are not quite sure what Swede Jim Longinger is doing as he jumps over Mt. Whitney, but if he is pulling his pants up, his hand is on backwards.
Last week 40-year-old Gordon Ward ran the Vet Pro class, but found himself in the middle of the 450 Pro race. So, this week he signed up for the 450 Pros and went 3-3.
There was new track design for this weekend, although since there is a new track design for almost every race that is hardly news. The new layout didn’t just go up Mt. Whitney and come back down, but it went up and over in a high flying aerial act that tested the willingness of the masses to fly. In the end, the Pros, the Intermediates and a few old, but stupid, guys went for it. The majority of the racers chose to jump on top and then jump off the backside. Either way it was challenge and a thrill.
Willy Simons, Jr. won the 250 Intermediate class. He put it all together this week and didn't make any mistakes.
THE BIG WINNERS OF THE DAY WERE...
Looking down from the upper part of the track, you can see the puddles left from Friday's rain...and best of all the milk chocolate colored dirt.
Antonio Balbi from Brazil won both motos of the 450 Pro class—chased by Finnish rider Mauno Hermunen and ageless Gordon Ward (the man who invented the heel clicker decades ago).
Willy Simons Jr. took the 250 Intermediate victory and showed some new speed—aided by the fact that the Intermediates were mixed in with the 450 Pros—which gave “Will Junior” a chance to see the Pro lines. Swede Jim Longinger was second with Renton Minuto third.
Here is a closer view of what SoCal soil looks like when it gets drizzled on. Jon Ortner moves a portion of the track a little to the West.
Although Over-50 Elite riders Jon Ortner and Randel Fout cleared away from the Over-50 Expert class, the battle behind them was intense. Dave Eropkin would take the Over-50 Expert victory with a 1-3, with Bryan Friday (5-1) second, Will Harper (2-4) third, Dean Adkins (3-5) fourth and Willie Amaradio (7-2) fifth.
Bryan Friday (43) leads the Over-50 Expert class. Friday would end up with a 5-1 day. Dave Eropkin's 1-3 would take the win, with Will Harper third overall with a 4-2.
Ryder Difrancesco went 2-2 behind Jet Reynolds in the 65 Advanced class.
Terry Varner used a solid 1-1 to defeat a top ten of C.T. Falk, Kevin Worrell, Mike Little, Brian Allen, Scott Williams, Mike Phillips, Robert Collins, Gary Harada and Todd Wiseman in the Over-50 Intermediates.
Previously used as part of the AMA National track, the Mt. Whitney jump sends up the riders out of one valley and into the next. It is a big jump that is made all the larger by the fact that it sits on top of a massive hill.
Syd Woods 2-1 bested Kent Reed’s 3-2 in the Over-50 Novices. Lance Sloane’s 1-4 was third.
Kent Reed (491) was second in the Over-50 Novices behind Syd Woods. In the background you can see a rider going up Mt. Whitney. When he gets to the top he has to decide whether to jump the whole thing or play it safe.
Mark Taylor (126), Sauro Deleau (73) and Robby Gilbert (726) sweep through a Glen Helen turn with room to spare in the Novice class.
Jim Latendresse won the Over-60 Expert class with a 1-1 over Mic Rodgers’ 3-2, Bill Seifert’s 4-3, Carl Gazafy’s 2-5 and Tony Parson’s 6-4.
This is what it would look like if you mixed MMA fighting and motocross. When Mitch Evans (4) stalled in front of Michael Mosca (556) and Brian Martin (65) they threw out opposite legs to keep from falling.
Mike Phillips (63) went 9-6 in the Over-50 Intermediate class, but at this moment is leading second place finisher C.T. Falk (63).
In the Novice classes—Brandon Reid won the 450s, Cole Tompkins the 250s, Nick Nahas the Over-40s and Ian Andre the Vets.
Talon Van Valkenburg (70) did an amazing job of dealing with the big hills and deep ruts of the REM track on his way to the 65 Beginner victory.
The Cobra rider checks out how big REM's hills are.
THE "GREG GROOM CREATIVE LINE AWARD" GOES TO...
Who else, but Greg Groom himself. The consummate cheater, Greg Groom (12) has built an unenviable reputation for cutting sections of the track. And, in most cases, he is caught and punished. Since he is a local legend for this activity, it is assumed that he doesn't do it to cheat, but just to have fun — even if it costs him a one lap penalty. In this photo Greg goes straight through the infield while Todd Wiseman (424) and Pete Vetrano stay on the course.
In photo two of the sequence, you can see how far off the track Groom's creative line choice is.
At this point, Greg has passed Wiseman and Vetrano as he re-enters the track.
Brian Martin (standing by the track) points out Groom's move to the flagman, who is looking the other way. Martin didn't need to go to the trouble because Groom was scored last in the Over-50 Experts.
Husqvarna Motorcycle tests