Photo by Dan and Chris Alamangos
Jessy Nelson sweeps downhill into REM’s roller coaster section. Nelson holeshot both Pro motos.
In SoCal racing circles, the weekly REM motocross races are where the AMA National riders come to prepare for the start of the season or to rehab for the rest of the season. Why? Because the REM motocross track, built on the exact spot as the 1970s Arroyo Cycle Park, is very technical, rough, lined with deep ruts and an amazing amount of ups-and downs. As one Pro rider described, “It was like riding a roller coaster while standing up in the seat and screaming at the top of your lungs.” The only flat sections of the track are down by the starting line and they consist to two sweeping turns that lead into a series of ups and down that comprise 80 percent of the track.
Justin Jones (KTM) and Jake Canada (Yamaha) ran this close for most of the first 450 Pro moto.
This week, two current AMA National riders, came out for some rehab. Jessy Nelson, who finished ninth in the 2012 AMA 250 Nationals, hasn’t race a single National in 2013 as he heals up from an arm injury. Jake Canada, who was 12th in last year’s 250 Nationals, has been nursing an injury and recently left the Moto Concepts team, and has secured some help from DR.D to get back into action.
Preston Tilford has been inactive for awhile. He was once considered the “King of REM” back during his Vance and Hines days.
The action between Canada, Nelson and Justin Jones was intense. Nelson was signed up in the 250 Pro class, but with the 250 and 450 Pros combined on the same gate, it was a surprise when Jessy holeshot both motos. Justin Jones, currently running third in the WORCS series, was second with Jake Canada starting third in both motos. As the fans lined the fence to see how long Jessy Nelson could hold off the 450s of Jones and Nelson in moto one, Jessy was given a reprieve as Justin and Jake fought each other for second. Towards the end of the first moto, Canada got Jones and quickly passed Nelson for the overall victory. Jones also leapfrogged up to Nelson’s rear wheel and came within a half bike of passing Nelson for second on the Mt. Whitney uphill. The second moto ended the same as the first.
How low can you go? Justin Jones looks like he is sliding into second base.
If you were to combine the 250 and 450 Pros the results were Jake Canada (1-1), Jessy Nelson (2-2), Justin Jones (3-3), Preston Tilford (4-4) and Brett Hottel (6-5). In real time though, Jessy Nelson won the 250 Pro class in front of Kristoffer Palm, while Canada took the 450 class in front of Justin Jones.
THOSE AMAZING OLD MEN IN THE 50 CLASS
Jon Ortner makes the turn to start up Mt. Whitney, while his pursuers are coming down the hill.
Amazingly, one-third of all the racers at REM this weekend were over the age of 50 (if you add in riders over 40 years old the number jumps to 50%).
Over-50 Experts: The premier class as REM, apart from the Pros, is the Over-50 Expert class. It is the place where former Pros from the 1980s congregate. And this week there was a strong field that included Indian Dunes star Jon Ortner, Saddleback 125 hero Dave Eropkin, LightSpeed’s Willie Amaradio, Maico stalwart Val Tamietti and former Pro Circuit Husqvarna rider Mike Monaghan.
Jon Ortner, still working out the setup of his 2014 Yamaha YZ450F, obviously had the starting technique figured out as he gapped the field immediately and rode to a two-moto sweep. Eropkin and Amaradio traded seconds and thirds, with Eropkin getting second overall and Amaradio third. Val Tamietti and Mike Monaghan were two-stroke mounted and Tamietti’s YZ250 took him to a second moto 4th, which nipped the TM 144MX of Mike Monaghan for fourth overall when they went 4-5 and 5-4.
Mike Monaghan on a 2013 TM 144MX two-stroke.
Over-50 Intermediates: The tricky track wreaked havoc on the Intermediates with Fred Nichols (2-1) and Steve Donovan (1-3) going one-two, but behind them the moto scores were all over the map. Will Harper was third in moto one, but 12th in moto two. Randy Skinner was second in the second moto, but 8th in moto one. The final podium spots went to Nichols (2-1), Donovan (3-1), Skinner (8-2) and Jeff Fahy (7-4).
Tyler Felix does his best to discourage anyone from following too close behind him.
Joe Sutter (11), Cory Clark (48), Sam Hawley (181) and Kendall Stanley (251) spread out across the track in the Over-40 Novice class.
Over-50 Novice: If the Over-50 Intermediates were inconsistent, the Over-50 Novices were super steady. Russell Brown went 1-1, Mark Fitzgerald 2-2, Dave Halverson 3-3, Paul Dobereiner 4-5 and Anthony Rose 7-4. The only sour note in the top ten was that after finishing 6th in moto one, Mitch Evans got 15th in moto two for 13th overall.
Jeff Fahy (31) and Jeff Scott (452) practice their formation flying just in case Suzuki wants to start a motorcycle drill team.
Over-60 Expert: With four-time 250 National Champion Gary Jones, three-time World Vet Champion Bill Maxim and three-time REM number one George Kohler on the line the racing looked promising. However, Gary Jones was untouchable in both motos, while George Kohler and Lyle Sweeter tied with 3-2 and 2-3 scores (with the nod going to Kohler for second). Hollywood stuntman Mic Rodgers (5-4), Bill Maxim (4-6), Jody Weisel (6-5), Tony Parsons (7-7) and Earl Shuler (8-8) were the best of the rest.
THE OTHER CLASSES
Aussie Chris Alamangos (65) leads Cameron Simons (20), Mark Taylor (126), Andy Fritts (8) and Andrew Shade (912) early in the first moto of the Novice class.
250 Novice: Willy Simons Jr. won the 250 Novice class in front of a top ten of Deegan Burdine (2-2), Brandon Reid (4-4), Tyler Nichols (3-5). Michael Single (6-6), Joseph Estrada (5-7), Johnny Chico (11-3), Thomas Poole (7-8), Jeff Fitzgerald (9-9) and Trevor Mandina (10-11).
When you come out of the back section of the REM track you get a very good view of how big the place is. Jeffrey Lepere (429) doesn’t have time to look around.
450 Novice: Cole Safford, son of famous AXO and Alpinestars designer Kenny Safford, swept both moto of the 450 Novices in front of Bradley Cole, Corbin Powell, Chuck Ramsey, Glenn Stoecker, Andrew Shade, Camden Simons and Mark Taylor.
Dutch rider Ralf Schmidt’s 1-2 was good enough for the win in the Over-40 Novice class.
Over-40 Novices: This was the biggest class of the day and it was won by Dutch rider Ralf Schmidt with a 1-2 on a TM 300MX. Kendall Stanley was second with a 3-3 and Scott Fichter third with 6-1. Other notables include Kenny Safford (9-6), Pasha Afshar (14-9) and Pete Vetrano (13-11).
Joe Pena (911) and Shy Moshe (1) duel in the Over-50 Intermediate class.
REM does not race next Saturday because the Lucas Oil Offroad Truck Championships take over the whole park. REM returns to action on August 3, August 10 and August 17. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com.