MXA’s John Minert looks like he’s riding across field of grain…only it is really brown dirt. John was third in the 450 Intermediates.
SoCal motocross racers aren’t like anyone else; they love motocross, but not if its raining or looks like rain. This weekend it rained. Okay, that’s not true. It drizzled. Doesn’t sound too bad, but it did drizzle for all of the morning motocross practice sessions. It was muddy. Okay, is was more slimy than muddy. It was cold. Okay, it was cold if you are a Californian?but if you are from anywhere else it was about 60 degrees.
MXA’s Billy Musgrave won the 250 Pro class and finished second overall out of all the 250 and 450 Pros.
The California mentality says…“Don’t race in the rain.” And most Californians follow that to a Tee. If they get up on race day morning and its raining, they go back to bed.
Mike Sleeter chases British rider Glenn Fletcher early in moto one.
Sadly, this week the weather tricked most of the Californians by faking them out. It wasn’t raining when they got out of bed. It wasn’t raining when they drove to Glen Helen. It wasn’t raining when they unloaded and got dressed. Then, it started to rain. You would have thought that nuclear war had been declared. Some riders, including 450 Pros, loaded up and drove out of the track, some hovered around the sign-up booth trying to decide whether to stay or go. Eventually, REM announced that there was a dead line on changing your race entry?in order to get the hovers to make their minds up.
Then, practice was over…the rain stopped and the hardcore were left to race…on a rapidly drying track.
OF COURSE, A EURO WON THE 450 PRO CLASS
Glenn Fletcher didn’t think that what the Californians thought was mud was actually mud…it would have been a dry day in England.
After the rain stopped someone had to be sacrificed to the rain gods?by being in moto one. That honor fell to the 250/450 Pros and 250/450 Intermediates.
Pros: When the gate dropped British rider Glenn Fletcher was in his own element. The mud didn’t phase him as he pulled out a quick lead on the field. Mike Sleeter gave chase but couldn’t make any headway against the Brit. Finally, Sleeter crashed and pulled out of the moto and the day. Fletcher would win both motos of the 450 Pro class, while KTM 250SX two-stroke mounted Billy Musgrave won both motos of the 250 Pro class.
Intermediates: Dean Spangler went 1-1 in front of Austin Scroggins’ 2-2 in the 250 Intermediates. R.J. Wageman swept the 450 Intermediate class in front of Sam Chapman (4-2) and John Minert (3-3).
THE ONE-ONE SYNDROME
Willy Musgrave moved from MXA’s KTM 300XC project bike to MXA’s YZ250 project bike for the day…he doesn’t get to keep it because it gets assigned to a different test rider every week until the testing is done.
The riders who liked mud, or didn’t like it, but knew how to handle it, all had 1-1 days. That included 85 Beginner Alex Ruesga, 85 Novice James Buddy, 85 Expert Brandon Sussman, 150 Advanced winner Braden O’Neal, 250 Beginner Conner Gustus, 450 Beginner Blake Fulton, Vet Beginner Brian Smith, Over-40 Novice Jonny Benskin, Over-40 Intermediate Bryan Friday, Open Intermediate R.J. Wageman, Over-50 Novice Russell Brown, Over-50 Intermediate Mike Monaghan, Over-50 Expert Jon Ortner, Over-60 Expert Ray Pisarski, 450 Novice Dirk Davidow, Over-40 Pro Willy Musgrave and 125 Adult “A” winner Ernie Becker.
THE RACES OF THE DAY
By the time the second motos rolled around, the track was dry and the serious battles commenced. As always the Over-50 Experts and the suddenly rejuvenated Over-50 Intermediates were the hot spots (and the biggest classes of the day).
Troy Lee decided that the San Diego Supercross could wait until he got his two motos in at REM.
Over-50 Experts: Jon Ortner has a win streak going at REM and Troy Lee wanted to bring that to an end. Troy needed to be at San Diego Stadium with his Lucas Oil Honda Supercross team of Cole Seely and Travis Baker, but instead, he decided to race at Glen Helen and then head down to San Diego. In both Over-50 Expert motos, Ortner and Lee ran nose to tail. Troy could close the gap, but he couldn’t seal the deal. Perhaps if Troy had gotten the holeshot, then the situation would have been reversed.
Randall Fout (46) draws a bead on Dave Eropkin (811) and Greg Nelson. He would eventually get them.
In the end, Ortner went 1-1 and Troy went 2-2. Randel Fout has switched to an RM250 two-stroke and although he was doubtful about racing during the morning drizzle?because he is nursing a knee injury?he ended up third overall with a 5-2. Dave Eropkin was fourth and Greg Nelson fifth.
Mike Monaghan used a KTM 150SX two-stroke to win the Over-50 Intermediate class. The mud helped him against his competitors’ 450 four-strokes in moto one, but when it dried out, he still ran them down in moto two.
Over-50 Intermediates: The exodus from the Over-50 Experts continued this week. A month ago, one Over-50 Expert got tired of getting beat and moved down to the Over-50 Intermediates. A week later, he attracted two more former Experts (because they were also in the back of the Expert pack). Then, last week, a total of four former Experts filled the starting line. This week there were six recent immigrants (and a few from last year that slipped in quietly a couple months ago).
Mike Monaghan dropped down and won both motos, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Monaghan, on a KTM 150SX two-stroke, had race-long duels with George Kohler and Randy Skinner (also Experts a few weeks ago). Monaghan didn’t win on sheer speed, but on perseverance?he worried Kohler and Skinner to death. In fact, Monaghan was running second in the second moto with two laps to go. He was chasing former Saddleback Pro Bob Marino, who had a four-second lead, when Marino imploded and slowed significantly enough to get caught and passed by both Monaghan and Kohler. It is hard to say where the first true Over-50 Intermediate was because between drop-down Experts and former Pros hiding out in the Intermediates, almost everyone in the class was in some form of transition. But, if you looked at the results from two months ago, the first Intermediate from that time was in tenth place place now.
From a practical point of view the Over-50 Intermediate class is better off with the riders who bailed out of the Over-50 Experts?they weren’t making a dent in the fast class and although they are displacing some of the existing Over-50 Intermediates, they have brought much closer racing at the front…and none of the immigrants has dominated.
Braden O’Neal won the 150 Advanced class over Max Lee.
THE GOOD AND BAD DAYS
Gunnar Johnston finished second in the first moto of the 250 Novice class, but had issues in moto two that spiraled him back to 11th. His 2-11 got him fifth.
Bob Marino was a distant 14th in the first moto of the Over-50 Intermediates, but holeshot and ran away with all but the last lap of moto two. His 14-3 earned him 8th overall.
Roy Krull struggled to an 8th in the first muddy moto of the Over-50 Novices, but when it dried out for moto two he came back with a third. His 8-3 got him fourth overall. Meanwhile, Kent Reed finished second in the first moto, but had rut issues in moto two to fade back to 9th. 2-9 put him in a three-way tie for fourth with Roy Krull (8-3), and Jeffrey Arzouman (4-7). Reed got the short end of the stick and was scored as sixth overall.
The 250 Novices were the most inconsistent. Although Teren Salinas won with a 1-2, the class was littered with baseball scores; Gunnar Johnston (2-11), Ryan Nitzen (10-5) and Tyler Nichols (6-12) were the best examples of good and bad motos.
REM races again next Saturday, February 18. Practice starts at 9:00 a.m. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
Although the Anaheim Supercross has traditionally been a Breast Cancer Awareness event, this year the promoters didn’t do it. That didn’t stop DR.D and Troy Lee from rolling out the pink products in support of a good cause. This pink muffler graced Mark Hall’s RM-Z450.
Photos by Ernie Becker and Dan Alamangos