Photos by Dan Alamangos, Mark Chilson & Mike Monaghan
Click on images to enlarge
The REM Octobercross is a yearly rite of passage for SoCal motocross racers. This year was the 14th edition of what promoter Frank and Myra Thomason started as the “Commotion by the Ocean” when the held the REM Motocross races at carlsbad raceway. Since moving to Glen Helen they renamed it “Octobercross” because Commotion 450 miles from he Ocean” didn’t ring any bells.
What makes the REM Octobercross important is that it is held one week before the World Vet Championship. It gives aspiring Vet racers a preview of some, but not all, of the World Vet layout. Plus, it is a tune-up on what is a very challenging track (and gives riders a chance to work out what suspension settings they need to 1-1/2 miles of square-edged bumps and big hills.
Not only were there riders at the Octobercross from South Africa, Norway, Brazil, Denmark, Australia, England, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Israel, Japan and Germany, but there were lots of former World Vet Champions in attendance. They included Alan Olson (9), Lars Larsson (3), Bill Maxim (3), Travis Preston (1), Gary Chase (1), Eric Sandstrom (1), Tom White (1), Brent Wallingsford (1), Bart Kellog (1) — for a grand total of 21 titles.
ON THE HILLS OF GLEN HELEN
Travis Preston won the 450 Pro class and in the process served notice that the he is ready to defend his current Over-30 world vet title —he also wiped the aura of superiority off of the faces of a lot of young Pro races, many who raced in the Monster Cup program in Vegas. It has to be a shock to the system of a young Pro to realize that he couldn’t win the Vet class. Even worse for them, 42-year-old Gordon Ward made their life miserable as well.
450 Pro: The top five was Travis Preston (1-1) R.J. Wageman (2-2), Brandon Pederson (3-4), Cole Zitterkopf (5-3), Julien Cerny (4-5). Meanwhile the 250 Pro class was won by Troy Lee Designs’ Justin Hoeft over Ryan Surratt, Tanner Taylor, Casey Casper and Brian Medeiros.
Intermediates: Norwegian Mads Gregerson swept both motos of the 450 Intermediates. In the 250 Intermediates Robbie Wagemen used a 2-1 to defeat Troy lee Designs Sean Cantrell’s 1-2. Trevor Stewart (3-3), Tyler Hoeft (4-4) and Willy Simons Jr. (5-5) filled out the top five.
Over-50: For some unknown reason the Over-50 class is the glamor class of Glen Helen. It is divided into four division (Elite, Expert, Intermediate and Novice). These four classes are typically packed and winning is noted by all the fans.
In the Elite class Willy Simons Sr. was as untouchable as Travis Preston was in the 450 pro class. Willy powered to the front and steadily pulled away. Jon Ortner (3-2), Rob Engel (2-3) and Steve Lawler (4-4) gave chase to no avail.
The Over-50 Expert class was very big—which makes winning all the more sweet. New Yorker Phil Dowell used a 2-1 to take the win over Bob Casper (3-5), Jerry Black (6-3), Loren Pochirowski (10-2), Val Tamietti (8-4), Dave Eropkin (5-9), Craig Christian (9-7), David Fontes (4-12), Willie Amaradio (7-10) and Luther French (1-19).
In the Over-50 Intermediate class Chris Cole had everyone’s number as he went 1-1 in front of Dirk Davidow (3-2), Dan Villopoto (2-3). Paul Fitz-Gibbon (4-4) and Brian Sharp (5-5).
There were 34 Over-50 Novices on the line with Scott Sligar and Fabio Santos sharing 1-2 and 2-1 scores (with the nod going to Sligar. Robert Pocius finally lost after an eight race winning streak in this class. Robert got third with a 4-3. There were no heartbreaking moto scores (as with Luther French in the Over-50 experts), but there were some scores that could well have been football scores. Without embarrassing anyone because these are riders with very good results over the past year —Brian Underdahl went 16-16, Mike Hillion had a 19-17 day, Bobby Hunt went 24-25, Ian Pederson had a 31-20 score, Kent Reed went 22-25 and Don Wallace went 30- 27. It just shows the intensity of the day went front runners fight for whatever they can get.
The Over-50 Elites and Experts burn into turn two three abreast. Eventual Elite winner Willy Simons (46) uses the outside line to sweep by Jerry Black (01) and Steve Lawler (4). In the second group is Willie Amaradio (83), Phil Dowell (23), Clark Jones (41) and Rob Engel (24), The third wave is Dan Alamangos (22), Luther French (2), Craig Christian (53) and Loren Pochirowski (737). Photo: Chilson
Clark Jones (41) holeshot the first Over-50 Expert/Elite moto, but crashed in turn two. Here, he tries to fight his way back to the front with Jeff Fahy (2) in tow. Clark’s 20-6 score didn’t even get him in the top ten. Photo: Chilson
WHAT ABOUT THE NERVOUS NOVICES?
125 Novice: Alexander Harris, Justin Lewis and Luis Macias rounded out the top three.
250 Novice: Carson Mumford uses a Super Mini and a 3-1 score to win over Cole Puckett (2-2) and Gavin Tadora (1-5).
450 Novice: Todd Sibell swept both motos in front of Parker Jones’ 2-2. Parker is the son of Noleen owner Clark Jones, who had a 20-6 day in the Over-50 experts after a brutal second turn crash while leading in the first moto).
Vet Novice: Gilbert Ranhol, David Bombard and Andy Young went 1-2-3 in front of Andrew Shade, KTM’s David O’Connor, Kevin Cook, John Perry, Omri Moalem, Jose Prado and Jason Mang.
Over-40 Novice: Robbie Carpenter’s 1-1 best Gabi Ebaiov’s 3-4 and Tommy Leone’s 6-2 to fill out the top three.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE ANCIENT MARINERS
There were 25 Over-60 racers on the line. Most notably was the return of offroad star and 2005 World Vet Champion (in the Over-40 Expert class) Brent Wallingsford. Brent hasn’t been racing for many years, but he has been riding and decided to make his return to racing in the Over-60 Expert class. Walllingsford won with a 2-1 that defeated Rick ”Too Tech” Johnson’s 1-2. Jim Latendresse was third, John Alden fourth, Carl Gazafy fifth, Mike Marion sixth, Phil Cruz seventh, Gary Chase eighth, newly minted AMA Hall of Famer Tom White ninth and Bart Kellog tenth.
We don’t know how big the hills or bumps are at your track, but the Mt. Saint Helen downhill was long and fast. It got very rough, as you can see from the shadows on the bumps, and the Pros could hit 60 mph on the way down. Jody Weisel (22) and Denmark’s Soren Schneider (279) kept it well below School Zone speeds. Photo: Alamangos
Tom White (80) was inducted in the AMA Hall of fame last weekend for his AMA Dirt track career, aftermarket business acumen, charitable efforts and motorcycle museum. What was he doing this weekend? Racing in the Over-60 Expert class at Glen Helen. Rich Stuelke (16) looks for some Hall of Fame tips. Photo: Chilson
REM does not race next weekend, because of the world vet Championship, but returns on November 8 for a consecutive string of races that will take the REM gang up to 2015. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com