Photos by Dan Alamangos, Ernie Becker and Mike Monaghan
If only George Kohler (35) and Bill Seifert (37) had the time to look back over their shoulders to see the grand vista of track laid out behind them they would appreciate the joys of motocross more.
With the World Veteran Motocross Championship looming in three weeks, the focus of everyone was on getting ready. REM’s massive Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 contingent races 40 times a year against each other. They have rivalries that go back to the 1970s?and every race is important when you are getting to the point where you can only remember this week’s race. REM threw its racers a curve this weekend by turning the track around backwards. What once was up, was suddenly down ? and in the aftermath of a rare October rain storm three days before REM’s Saturday race, the dirt was softer than usual.
REM promoter Frank Thomason (551) isn’t just a promoter he is also a racer. No word on whether he stayed at a Holidiay Inn Express or not.
One corner dominated the days action. It was the troublemaker. Previously a left-hand downhill turn at the bottom Mt. Whitney, with the track change, it became a right hand 90-degree turn leading up Mt. Whitney. The sequence of events that led the REM racers to “The Troublemaker” started four corners earlier. As the riders swept across the starting line they went into a flat skatey left-hand turn that went over a rollercoaster-like 20-foot high hump, dropped down into a deep gulley with a right-hand turn at the bottom. From the gulley the riders raced up to a left-hand 90-degree turn that led down into another ravine. As they climbed out of the ravine they came to “The Troublemaker.”
The Troublemaker One: Scott Fichter (445) has gotten by the unidentified rider on the ground, while Joe Sutter, Mark Hall and Pasha Afshar are taking evasion actions.
“The Troublemaker” didn’t look sinister. As you crested the uphill out of the ravine there was a sharp right corner?it looked simple. All you had to do was pick a rut out of the muddy surface, make a 90-degree right-hand turn and shoot up the really steep Mt. Whitney hill (where you would do a 180-degree hairpin and rocket right back down.) It looked easy, but is wasn’t. The sharp right had three ruts, each one with its own particular difficulty and, by the nature of racing, two or three riders often got to the “The Troublemaker” at the exact same time?then it was every man for himself. It would not be an exaggeration to say that 25% of the riders at REM fell in the “Troublemaker” at some point in the day.
Carson Mumford (122) won two 85cc classes at REM on Saturday.
THE RACES THAT MATTERED IN THE WORLD VET VIEW
All eye were on the Over-30, Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 classes.
The Troublemaker Two: Even the fast guys weren’t immune to the charms of The Troublemaker. Vet Pro winner Tony Amaradio picks up his bike.
Over-30 Pro: Two former AMA National riders fought it out for the Vet Pro victory. MXA’s Dennis Stapleton won the first moto and Tony Amaradio won the second moto and the overall.
Dennis Stapleton (65) rails around a rollercoaster-shaped left. This is the corner that Dave Eropkin crashed on.
Over-40 Pro: William Hendershot won the Over-40 Pro class and put himself in the rarefied air with other potential winners for the World Vet. However, there will be surprises. For example, Tony Amaradio, who won the Over-30 Pro class, will turn 40 before the World Vet in three weeks?and will be gunning for Doug Dubach’s title (and his share of the $4000 Over-40 Pro purse). As for Dubach, he is still recovering from his massive Mammoth Mountain injuries, but says he plans to race the Over-50 class at the World Vet. Dubach just turned 50.
The Troublemaker Three: Joe Sutter may have avoided the trouble in the photo above, but The Troublemaker lay in wait and finally gobbled up Joe (111) and Shy Moshe. Greg Iorio (127) goes around them.
Over-50 Expert: Although Dubach is the winningest rider in World Vet History, the Over-50 class will not be easy for him on November 3. Willy Simons and Jon Ortner have been dominating the class at REM, trading wins weekly and looking ready to contend for the crown. This week Ortner showed up with an injured leg, but still managed to lead?until Simons came by towards the end of each moto. This week’s star riders in the Over-50 Expert class included Simons, Ortner, Hollywood stuntman Bryan Friday (3-3), LightSpeed carbon fiber owner Willie Amaradio (6-4), former Pro Circuit Husky rider Mike Monaghan (5-6), 1970s SoCal 125 star Dave Eropkin (4-DNF) and Former CMC number One Val Tamietti (7-5).
In the Over-50 Expert class Dave Eropkin tucked the front end on this small hump and high-sided. Bryan Friday (43) had a ring side seat.
Dave’s head plows into some loose dirt on the side of the track?it was a good thing it was a soft berm because this section of the track was hard-pack.
Dave’s body recoils from the hit as he flips over. Dave got up and walked away, but his crash points to the dangers of post-concussion syndrome. Luckily, after his first concussion Dave purchased a 6D helmet which lessen the G-Forces of this crash.
Unfortunately, Dave Eropkin, who was forced by REM to sit out for six weeks because of a concussion and was just cleared to compete one race ago, crashed in his second moto on Saturday (one turn before “The Troublemaker” and landed on his helmet?which thankfully was in a 6D helmet). Dave will now have to miss the World Vet as he sits out another forced hiatus.
Suzuki-mounted Jody Weisel leads Brian Martin (65). Jody will design the World Vet and Octobercross tracks and promises that they will be big, long and fun.
Over-60 Expert: Older but no wiser, a pack of former Saddleback Specialists showed how they did it up Suicide Mountain in the glory days. Tom White holeshot both motos on his KTM 350SXF (using his Grand National dirt track skills in the flat left-hand first turn sweeper). But when Tom and George Kohler got to “The Troublemaker” together they floundered and MXA’s Jody Weisel hit the rut they missed and passed them both. By the end of the moto, it was Kohler, White, Weisel, Bill Seifert and Earl Shuler rounding out the top five. The second moto start also went to White, who luckily cleared out before Kohler and Weisel could jammed each other up in the second turn, allowing Bill Seifert by both of them?it was Seifert’s best start in months and he tried to make the most of it, but “The Troublemaker” got him three times in moto two. “I spent so much time picking my bike up in that corner that I had time to learned about the flagman’s interests in life, the kind of car he drives and where the best restaurant in his town is,” said Seifert. In the end, the final top five was George Kohler, Tom White, Jody Weisel, Earl Shuler and Bill Seifert.
Tom White (80) is a former Over-40 World Vet Champion (23 years ago), Grand National dirt tracker (43 years ago) and owner of the White Brothers (sold it 13 years ago). Today, Tom runs his motorcycle museum (www.earlyyearsofmx.com), writes his vintage column for MXA and plays golf.
THE BIGGEST CLASS OF THE DAY
The Over-50 Novice start: Mark Testa (far right on his hands and knees) is first on the scene of the crime in the Over-50 Novice class. He is about to be engulfed in falling bikes.
The rest of the pack starts to go down like bowling pins as Ted Kukla (96) and Paul Doebereiner (224) escape the carnage.
No one else would get through and the race had to be red flagged.
With a full gate, the Over-50 Novices were desperate to get a good start. The end result was a major pileup in the second turn. Mark Testa was one of the first riders down on the first start?but when they got the red flag at the end of lap one Mark got a second chance. No problem! Mark went back to the starting gate and holeshot the restart. Mark had a 5-5 day for fifth. Paul Doebereiner took the Over-50 Novice win with a 3-2 as first moto winner Syd Woods went 1-4 and second moto winner Anthony Rose had a 8-1. The final tally was Doebereiner (3-2), Woods (1-4), Mike Hillion (4-3), Anthony Rose (8-1), Mark Testa (5-5), Ted Kukla (2-10), Robert Pocius (7-6), Bob Gilbert (6-9), Brian Underdahl (9-7) and Gary Scott (10-8). “The Troublemaker” got the rest of the pack.
The Troublemaker Four: Dan Alamangos and Randel Fout (25) have a meeting of the minds in the same rut.
Surprise! The second biggest class of the day was the Over-50 Intermediates. And its results mimicked those of the Over-50 Novices with Jeff Fahy using a safe and sane 2-2 to take the win, while first moto winner Scott Fichter went 1-5 and second moto winner Randy Skinner had a 7-1. The big news is that Greg Groom was back. After serving a six-month suspension for some on-track shenanigans, the “king of creative line choice” was back in the saddle. His 15-15 day wasn’t stellar, but he didn’t get in trouble so it was a victory of sorts.
Braden O’Neal, grandson of O’Neal USA founder Jim O’Neal, won the 250 Novice class, while doing something that can only be done at Glen Helen. He raced on the REM track and between his 250 Novices races Braden went to the Glen Helen National track to race the Support class of the Old Timer’s National being held there. It was just lucky circumstances that allowed Braden to double race it, because Willy Musgrave tried the same thing only to find that both of his motos were at the same time.
The Troublemaker Five: Ron Shuler (33) picks his bike up as Adam Ford (54) and Dan Alamangos (75) head for the giggle bushes.
Other notable winners: Jett Reynolds (65 Open), Jeremy Ryan (son of Ricky Ryan-65 Advanced), Carson Mumford (85 Open and 85 Expert), Nicholas Ziegler (85 Novice), Dillon Ziegler (125 Novice) and Preston O’Neal (150F).
REM does not race next Saturday, October 19, because of the “24 Hours of Glen Helen” endurance race, but returns on October 26 for the annual “Octobercross,” which will serve as the warm-up race for the World Vet and will be held on the National track. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com.
The Troublemaker Six: They didn’t all make it to The Troublemaker! Jason Chism (26) crashed 10 feet before he got to it. Some times you can over-think a track obstacle.