The 24 Hours of Glen Helen starts with a Le Mans-style start. There are four different waves. It is a dead engine start, with your mechanic holding the bike by its rear fender. The start is a minor portion of a race that lasts all day and all night, but the riders go-for-it anyway.
What do you do if you own a motocross facility with access to two motocross tracks, a Lucas Oil offroad truck track, 100 of acres of trails and a paved road race course? You hold a 24-hour offroad race that combines everything together into one 12-mile course. Glen Helen’s HYR 24 Hour event allows six (6) person teams with two bikes for the amateur teams and four (4) riders per teams with one bike for the Pro teams. There is a $5000 Pro Purse. A spare bike can be impounded, but if it is used the original bike must be put back into the impound. You can only work on your bikes when the clock is ticking.
The course was designed by four-time 250 National Motocross Champion Gary Jones and Dirt Bike editor Ron Lawson. Sadly, Gary Jones worked on the track and had his own team lined up, but on the Thursday before the 24 Hour his son Gregory crashed in motocross practice and broke both legs…this comes on the heels of younger son Justin breaking his tib-fib just three weeks ago. Gary elected to stay home and push his kids around in a wheelchair.
The racing started at 10:00 am on Saturday, which meant that there was about nine hours of daylight before the night stints began. After close to 12 hours of darkness, the sun would rise again for the last three hour sprint to the finish line.
After 24 hours of racing, the Colton Udall-led team of Timmy Weigand, Nick Brozovich and Benny Breck took the win by two seconds over Robbie Bell’s team (Bell, Gary Sutherlin, Ty Hames and Ryan Abbotoye). Bell’s team led at various points during the first half of the race, but Udalll’s Honda-backed team held the lead for the second half. Amazingly, after 1440 minutes of racing (which is 86,400 seconds), the victory came down to two seconds. Gordon Ward’s team of Brad Goolsby, Nathan Parsons and Ryan Reina were in the running until one hour to go?when they suffered bike problems. They ended up third in the Pro class.
At the riders meeting they explain the rules and try to give tips on all the different sections of the 12-mile course. They admonish riders not to get too aggressive on the pavement when the dew sets in at 5:00 a.m. and to keep their speed down through the pits?which are over a half-mile long.
The riders crossed over the course on Glen Helen’s 150-foot long steel bridge. Dirt is piled up at the bottom of the steps to make the transition smoother.
Bud Feldkamp (left) and Malcolm Smith were co-drivers at the Baja 1000 for many years. They won the Baja 1000 in 1975 (in a Hi-Jumper) and in 1977 in a Funco, and the Baja 500 in 1978 and 1979. Today, Dr. Feldkamp owns Glen Helen and Malcolm sponsored several teams in the 24 Hours of Glen Helen?including son Alexander, who was riding the 24 hour race by himself in the Ironman class. Alexander took the Ironman win.
Midway through the day, the four-man Pro teams and six-man amateur teams spread out. The rider on the bridge is about 15 minutes ahead of the three riders on the track below him. The fastest lap times were around 23 minutes.
Glen Helen borrows the paved road race course that the San Bernadino Sheriffs Department uses to train its officers in pursuit. Even though asphalt and knobbies don’t mix, most of the 24 Hour riders love the pavement because it gives them a break from the square-edged bumps of the other 11 miles of track.
Three bikes and an awning fit in here. Not!
Although the riders ride the complete REM and USGP motocross tracks on every lap, they also spend considerable amount of time in the tight and twisties.
When night falls, the lighting solutions are varied…depending on the budgets of the teams. This is the high-zoot solution.
KTM fielded a women’s team for the 24 Hours with Sarah Whitmore, Sherri Cruze, Maria Forsberg, Christy Lacurelle and Kacy Martinez. KTM brought out their semi truck. New KTM signee Andrew Short also came out to watch the proceedings. Husaberg (background) fielded a team with Charles Jirsa, Killian Woder, Ryan Rowell and Shaun Caudill.