Photos by Dan Alamangos
Mt. Whitney is very steep and once you make it to the top, you face an equally steep, but a lot rougher, downhill.
REM promoters Frank and Myra Thomason promised the Glen Helen motocross racers three things leading into the first race of the 2014 season:
Justin Jones (42) won the 450 Pro class with ease, slicing through the mixed field of Pros, Intermediates and some expert classes.
(1) They would combined classes and run multiple starts to insure that every rider would have time to race both motos and still make it to Anaheim Stadium in time for the first Supercross of the year.
Former Vance and Hines amateur star Steven Tokarski made his return to racing the Pro class after a long injury lay-off. Unfortunately, just as the photo above was being snapped, his rear wheel hit the bank of dirt and threw Steven face first into his handlebars. He called it a day.
(2) That every class at REM would get 20-minute motos (whether they wanted it or not). Most hardcore riders loved the long motos—especially in a world dominated by “five laps and cloud of dust” races.
R.J. Wageman won the 250 Intermediates in front of Connor Strait, Willy Simons Jr, and his brother Robbie Wageman.
(3) That there would be some class restructuring and that riders who had earned their stripes in various classes in 2013, would be moved up in 2014.
The stadium portion of the REM track features lots of tricky off-camber corners and optical illusions. Here, Marc Crosby, on Ryan Surratt's YZ250 two-stroke, sweeps downhill while riders below him go the other way.
True to their word, the program was amazingly streamlined, as over 100 riders were combined into only four races. And even though each moto of the program was extended to 20-minutes per moto, there were no delays and every rider who was headed for the Big A had plenty of time to spare. Additionally, lots of riders found themselves facing the challenge of new competition in tougher and faster classes.
George Kohler (65) won the surprisingly large Over-60 Expert class in front of a top ten of Tom Holmes, Bill Maxim, Jody Weisel, John Huegel, Bill Seifert, Tony Parsons, Bob Sullivan, Tom White and Patrick Flynn.
To make the program work, each moto was divided into two gates. The first gate would be followed 30 seconds later by a second gate—and where possible smaller classes (or like-speed riders) would be combined into single gates. And while this often meant that riders from two or three different classes would be racing against each other — they were still being scored in their class only — it all worked out fine. The second wave, of either one big class or several smaller combined classes, would chase from behind. Of course, in 20 minutes there was bound to be a lot of lapping.
This is a man's man! Three-time Over-60 World Motocross Champion Bill Maxim raced his XR650 at REM. Not the bike the average guy would choose to race on a tight, twisty and hilly motocross track—you can't argue with Bill's success.
THE BIG WINNERS OF THE DAY OF THE NIGHT OF A1
Dale Bullitt (970) pursues a pack of Over-40 Novices. Bullitt would end up 10th, while Feriu Villarreal (281) would go 8-9 for ninth.
450 Pro: Justin Jones continues on his winning ways. This week the Swedish army, that is normally at REM in January and February, had gone to Anaheim Stadium early, so Justin had to be content with beating homegrown talent.
450 Intermediate: Jimmy O’Neal swept both motos.
TM riders Pete Vetrano (37) and Massimo Marescalch (63) swapped 5-5 and 4-7 scores in the Over-50 Intermediate class. Vetrano ended up fifth with his Italian buddy in sixth.
250 Intermediate: The Wageman brothers not only came up against each other in the 250 Intermediate class, but friend Willy Simons, Jr. as well. The final tally was R.J. Wageman 1-1, Conner Strait 4-2, Willy Simons, Jr. 3-3 and Robbie Wageman 2-4.
Mitchell Falk won the 85 Expert class.
Over-50 Expert: With Jon Ortner and Randell Fout moved to a new, faster and very exclusive class — the Over-50 Experts were won by Bryan Friday (1-1) over Ron Lawson (2-2), Will Harper (3-3), Joe Sutter (4-5), Steve Donovan (6-4), Fred Nichols (5-6), Mark Hall (7-7) and Randy Skinner (8-10).
Jett Reynolds took the win in the 65 Advanced class.
Over-60 Expert: No one can fully explain the tremendous turnout of riders over the age of 40 at REM. At this weeks race over 50 percent of the riders were in the Over-40, Over-50 or Over-60 classes. The Over-60 riders are the wily veterans of the sport, most of them raced at Saddleback and Indian Dunes, and while much older now their dedication to the sport is amazing. They may not be as fast as they were 20 years ago when they were in the 40 class, or 45 years ago when they were 125 Novices—but they love what they do.
Just last year these three riders were living a happy existence swapping wins in the Over-50 Intermediate class...too many wins as it turns out. Now, Steve Donovan (6), Will Harper (7) and Fred Nichols are Over-50 Experts. They acquitted themselves well with Harper third, Donovan fifth and Nichols sixth.
Michael Rigdon flew in from Hawaii, where he works as a Special Education professional, and borrowed a bike, boots, gear, helmet and goggles and went racing. His 10-8 day showed some ring rust, but that just could have been his Hawaiian tan.
Anthony Rose (127) leads Mike Hillion (413) in the Over-50 Novice class as three riders bear down on them from behind.
REM races again next Saturday, January 11, with the promise of a new track layout and 20-minute motos. In fact REM races at Glen Helen every Saturday until March 1, 2014, without a break. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
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