An enthusiastic fan tries to reach up and touch Preston Tilford’s bike in mid-air as the Vance & Hines rider flies down a hill. Actually, the fan is about 20 feet away.
What is it about Glen Helen’s weekly REM races that is so attractive to men of a certain age? How can a local race, held on a Saturday, with no significance other than local bragging rights, draw more motocross racers over the age of 50 than the AMA National Amateur Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch. What would possess 32 riders over 50-years-of-age to choose to show up at one race in droves…when most tracks across the country are lucky to scrape up a few old duffers.
Tony Amaradio retired from the AMA Nationals about five years ago, when he was just a young pup of about 30, but he has kept on racing. Tony has his speed back and easily won the 450 Pro class at Glen Helen.
Perhaps it is because REM has been holding racers for almost 27 years…which means that a lot of motocrosser who raced with REM at the famous Carlsbad Raceway back in the 1980s are still pounding out the laps with promoters Frank and Myra Thomason all these years later.
Perhaps it is because the motorcycle industry is based in SoCal, thus more racers who would have been their 20s when REM first started holding races, have kept on racing because it is the business they are in. Thus it is not unusual to see former AMA National Champions, company owners, magazine test riders and guys from the marketing and warehouses of famous brands on the starting line.
Preston Tilford finished in the top ten in 250A and 450A at Loretta Lynn’s last week and is now planning on getting his AMA license and racing both the Pala 450 National and the Monster Las Vegas events.
Perhaps it is because the sport is getting expensive and only those riders who are established in life, with their mortgages paid off and kids grown up, can afford to do it. Of course, these old duffers bring their kids out to race also, some with ten-year-olds kids and some with 30-year-olds.
Whatever it is, REM’s biggest classes on a weekly basis are the Over-50 Experts and Over-50 Novices?with the Over-40 Novices giving them a run for their money.
Willy Musgrave might as well be Andrew Short’s KTM teammate. His MXA 2012 KTM 250SX two-stroke has Showa works suspension, Pro Circuit linkage and pipe, Dick’s Racing’s Intelajet carb mod and makes almost 51 horsepower on the dyno. Willy won the Over-40 Pro class, but would have been fifth in the 450 Pros.
WHO WON THE OVER-50 EXPERT CLASS?
LightSpeed owner Willie Amaradio won the first moto with some pretty swift moves to come from fourth to first and pull away. But, Willie ended up a distant fifth in moto two for a 1-5 and third overall.
Dirt Bike editor Ron Lawson took the hard way in the Over-50 Experts, by racing a KTM 125SX. Even on a track with giant hills (and lots of them), Lawson came from the back in both motos to go 5-3, but that was only good enough for fourth.
Dennis Boulware used a 4-2 to get second place in front of Amaradio, Lawson, Randy Skinner (3-7) and Mike Monaghan (6-6).
The winner was MTA’s Greg Nelson with a 2-1. This victory ties Nelson with Willy Simons as the winningest rider in the class this year?with three wins apiece (out of possible 25 wins). It is tough to get a win in the Over-50 Experts, which is why repeat winners are so rare.
The dads were out in force to watch their offspring race. Brandon Ward, son of seven-time AMA Champion Jeff Ward, raced the 450 Intermediates, finishing second behind Justin Jones, son of four-time 250 Champion Gary Jones. Sean Bell, son of 1980 Supercross Champion Mike Bell, won the 85 Novice class.
WHAT ABOUT THE OVER-50 NOVICES?
One of the dangers of being a repeat winner in the Over-50 Novices is finding yourself lined up with the Over-50 Intermediates the next week. Mitch Evans may have to worry about this as he swept both motos with a 1-1 day. Steve Sussman was second (2-2), Michael Mosca third (4-3), Craig Johnston fourth (5-4), Gary Scott fifth (3-8), Brian Martin sixth (6-6), Greg Whitfield seventh (8-5), John Tookey eighth (7-7), Mark Homan ninth (10-9) and Wesley Dean tenth (9-13).
Ryan Surrat (51) won his class at Loretta Lynn’s and is back home at REM getting ready for next season. Ryan is the son of former 125 West Supercross Champion “Wild Willy” Surratt.
A POTPOURRI OF CLASS
Vance & Hines rider Preston Tilford easily won the 250 Pro class…and, in fact, worked his way through the 450 Pros to take the 250 overall in front of MXA‘s Billy Musgrave and Damion Tackett. Tilford would have won the 450 Pro class also…if he could have entered in both classes at the same time.
Tony Amaradio won the 450 Pros in front of Kris Keefer (1-2), Brian Nelson (3-4), Joey Webb (5-3) and Brett Hottel (4-5). Amaradio was the class of the field, but the battle between Keefer, Nelson and Webb was very close.
Lars Freistat used a 1-2 to take the 250 Intermediate victory away from Max Groom’s 3-1. Evan Kelly rounded out the top three.
Daniel D’Agostino used an unusual 3-2 to win the 450 Intermediates after first moto winner Robert Boldt went 1-5 and second moto winner Dustin Williams had to work with a sixth in moto one. Braden Larsen got second with a 2-3.
Former AMA Grand National dirt tracker, museum owner, founder of the White Brothers, race announcer and AMA Hall of Fame big-wig, borrowed MXA‘s 2012 KTM 450SXF to win the Over-60 Expert class.
Tom White borrowed MXA‘s 2012 KTM 450SXF, his new bike is coming in next week, and used it to win the Over-60 Expert class in front of AMP Research’s Ray Pisarski (2-2), MXA‘s Jody Weisel (3-3) and Bill Seifert (4-4). On a side note, Chuck “Feets” Minert handled the competition in the Over-80 class handily?winning both motos. Actually, Chuck elected to race with the Over-60 Experts…because it is hard to find 80-year-old competition for the former Catalina Grand Prix winner (1956) and factory BSA rider.
Craig Johnston (145) went 5-4 for fourth overall in the Over-50 Novice class behind Mitch Evans, Steve Sussman, and Michael Mosca
REM races again next Saturday, August 20. Practice starts at 9 a.m. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
Photos by Dan Alamangos