Photos by Dan Alamangos & Ernie Becker
If you’ve never been to Glen Helen, SoCal or REM, you will find the whole motocross experience to be quite unique. First, REM isn’t a big race. There aren’t 300 motorhomes jammed in the pits, crazy mini dads unloading 14 minis for Junior to race or egos that are set on 11. REM is a small cultish race that attracts the motorcycle industry?so when you go to the starting line at REM, you are very likely to be lining up next to the guy who owns the company that makes the gear you are wearing, pipe you are using or accessories on your bike.
Families are big at REM. At this weekend’s race, Troy Lee (recovering from a mountain bike crash in Whistler), brought out his son Max and Jeff Ward’s son Aryton to race. There were more generations of O’Neal’s at the race than we can trace. With Jim, Jimmy, Braden and Preston in attendance that covers the grandfather, son and grandson equation. 1987 Daytona Supercross winner Ricky Ryan was there with his son Jeremy. Willy Simons was racing the Over-50 Expert class while his son, Willy Jr., was racing the 250 Intermediates. Justin Hoeft won the 450 Pro class, while his brother Tyler was second in the 85 Experts. The Borski’s (Andrew and Dallas) were on the track at the same time, while the Coles’, Chris and Bradley, keep the father and son rivalry alive.
The REM regulars, and virtually 90% of REM racers come every week, love promoters Frank and Myra Thomason?and many of them have spent every weekend of the last two decades with them. Frank is a non-nonsense race promoter. He wants to run a good race, be fair and look out for the well being his racers.
Dave Eropkin (811) and Willie Amaradio (83).
Need examples? (1) Former 125 Pro Dave Eropkin suffered a concussion five weeks ago. Frank wouldn’t allow him to race until he got a doctor’s release?then, when Dave showed up ready to race, Frank said that he wouldn’t let him race unless Dave’s wife came to sign-up and signed him up. She did?and Eropkin got to race.
Willy Simons, Sr.
(2) To make the finish line chicane more exciting, it has been divided into two lanes (divided by a berm and ribbons). At the riders meeting, every rider was warned that if they crossed over the berm to get from the inside line to the outside lane, they would be penalized a lap. Sure enough, in the first moto of the day the Pros and Intermediates starting jumping across the berm dividing line. As they did, announcer Tom White would call out their names and they would be docked a lap. In the end, four riders were penalized…and for the rest of the day no riders dared cross over.
Randy Skinner has the luxury of a long look-back.
(3) REM is a safe track. That means that it doesn’t have double jumps, a jump out of every corner or three jumps down every straight. It does have a few jumps and some of them are big enough to challenge the riders, but Frank doesn’t believe that jumps are the end-all-be-all of motocross. Instead, REM is technical, tough and very rough. The motos are longer than most local events and the constant up and down of the hills, mixed with off cambers, deep ruts and a strange combination of hard, intermediate and soft dirt make for a track that attracts AMA National riders when they are serious about getting in shape.
Four-time 250 National Champion Gary Jones (88) and Lyle Sweeter (55).
(4) REM caters to the Veteran riders, and that doesn’t mean Over-30 riders?it means Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 riders. This weekend, 50% of the 170 racers were over the age of 40, 35% were over the age of 50 and the Over-60 class was the fourth largest of the day (after the Over-50 Intermediates, Over-50 Novices and Over-40 Novices). It helps that these classes are so big that they can stand alone, but Frank is also careful to match speeds so that older riders aren’t mixed in with wilder and younger riders.
Mishary Bushaiba?Arab Champion.
(5) REM is a classic Saturday race?in that it is run quickly and efficiently. The goal of a Saturday race is to give everybody good solid racing, but get them out of the track in time to go home and work on their bikes for Sunday riding. As a rule of thumb, REM’s last moto ends at 2:00 p.m. This is achieved by combining classes on the gates and having every race be a double-gate race?where the first gate goes and then 30-seconds later the second wave goes.
THIS WEEK’S RACE
The 450 Pros were won by Justin Hoeft, a 15-year-old who is not that far removed from the minicycle class. Hoeft went 1-1 with Axel Hodges in second place. Mark Samuels was third.
Jett Reynolds?part 1.
Jett Reynolds?part 2.
Jett Reynolds?part 3.
Tallon LaFountaine swept both motos of the 250 Intermediates, while Tristan Miller (3-2) and Trevor Stewart (2-3) battled for second. Sebastian Cantergiani was second in the second moto, but his first moto penalty for cutting the chicane ruined his chance of making the podium.
Joe Hernandez ? 14th in the Over-40 Novices.
Jimmy O’Neal won the Vet Intermediate class in front of Vance Freeman, Jack Peacock and Bill Weppner.
Russell Brown took the Over-50 Novice win with a 1-1. Dave Halverson, Paul Dobereiner, Anthony Rose, Brian Underdahl, Ted Kukla, Mike Hillion, Kenny Safford, Mitch Evans and Mark Testa rounded out the top ten.
Braden O’Neal shook off this Open Novice crash to win the 250 Novice class.
Randy Skinner used a 1-3 to take the Over-50 Intermediate win. Chris Cole was second with a 4-1, Jeff Fahy third with a 2-4, Will Harper fourth with a 5-2 and Jeff Mason fifth with a 3-9.
Willy Musgrave and Willy Simons picked up right where they left off last week in the Over-50 Expert class. The race went like this?whoever got the holeshot won. Musgrave holeshot the first moto and Simons holeshot the second moto. Third went to Bryan Friday, with Willie Amaradio fourth and Mike Monaghan fifth.
Mark Taylor straddles his YZ250 two-stroke in the 450 Novice class.
Current Over-60 World Champion Gary Jones won the Over-60 Expert class with a 1-1, but the scores behind him were all over the map. George Kohler was second with a 4-2, Lyle Sweeter third with a 2-4, Carl Gazafy fourth with a 6-3, Tom Holmes fifth with a 5-5, Mic Rodgers sixth with a 3-8, three-time Over-60 World Champion Bill Maxim was seventh with an 8-6, 1990 Over-40 World Champion Tom White was eighth with a 7-7, Jody Weisel ninth with a 9-9 and Tony Parson’s tenth with a 11-10.
Aryton Ward, son of Jeff Ward, survives this scary moment to win the 125 Intermediate two-stroke class.
Jeremy Ryan won the 65cc class with a 3-1 in front of Jett Reynolds’ 2-2, Anthony Gonsalves’ 1-2, Dylan Cunha’s 4-4, Eric Acevedo’s 5-5 and Ryder Difrancesco’s 6-8.
Last week Randel Fout won the Over-40 Pro class. This week he crashed four times.
Braden O’Neal swepted both moto of the 250 Novices with Ryusei Otsuka, Carson Mumford, Bradley Cole, Tyler Nichols, Dallas Borski, Cole Tompkins, John Roggero, Noah Hickerson and Jay Morris making the top ten.
Richard Taylor got up from this off-track excursion to win the 125 Novice two-stroke class.
Mike Monaghan still managed a fifth in the Over-50 Expert class even though he didn’t spend all of his time going forward.
Dennis Stapleton (184) went into the giggle bushes and flopped over in a deep rut. He got going quick enough to win the Vet Pro class.
REM does not race next weekend, but starts back up again on October 5. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com