PHOTOS BY DEBBI TAMIETTI, ROMMEL ANDRADE & DAN ALAMANGOS
It was a tough week in SoCal as the Santa Ana winds started to blow in off of the desert. “Blow” is not accurate—they howled. The wind knocked down trees, overturned garbage cans, blew palm fronds into the air and made cars swerve on the freeway (forcing a few riders to put down their cell phones to concentrate on the road). But that isn’t the worst of it, went the winds blow from the desert the humidity sinks to incredible lows. In Los Angeles on Thursday and Friday the relative humidity was 3%. If you sprayed a garden hose into the air, the water would evaporate before it hit the ground (and with the winds, it wouldn’t hit the ground for a half-mile away anyway).
With 35 to 60 mph winds and almost zero humidity, the chances of a wild fire breaking out are immense. After last year’s devastating wild fires, which killed people and destroyed whole towns, the power company was sued for not maintaining their lines and transformers. The electric arcs from the power lines set off the biggest fires (estimated that almost half of the fires were caused by power lines). So, this year, the company that failed to maintain its lines, trim tress away from the dangerous wires or update their aging transformers came up with the perfect solution — they turned the power off.
Say what? Starting on Wednesday, the electric company, which is under bankruptcy protection from the billions of dollars in claims against them from last year’s fires, decided to turn off the electricity to more than 700,000 bill-payers. Of course it was done out of caution over the possibility that there could be wild fires started by their lines during the Thursday and Friday wind event, but that’s like cutting down on the number of auto accidents by banning cars.
The cynical belief is that the reason they turned off the power is because their government-brokered $20 Billion dollar insurance policy doesn’t take effect until 2020—and any wild fire that they started in 2019 would not be covered by that state legislature deal. Thus, leaving people in the dark for days would both lessen the chance of wildfires and be good for the power company’s pocket book.
And there were fires in Northern California and SoCal. In fact, Interstate 5, between Southern and Northern California was closed for a day, along with several other freeways. Traffic was brought to a standstill as people tried to find alternate routes to get out of the City of Los Angeles and back to the valley.
What does this have to do with the REM motocross? When the MXA wrecking came to Glen Helen on Friday for a private 450 test session, there was no electricity at the track. The electric company had turned it off. There was also no water—it was being saved by the county in case a fire broke out in that area of SoCal. Oh yeah, did we mentioned that wind was blowing 35 mph at the same time. The MXA wrecking crew rode anyway. The track was rock hard and shiny, but no worse than Carlsbad used to be in the afternoon and, at least, the wind coming down the canyon, blew the dust away very quickly. But, the situation was—if by Saturday morning the power company didn’t turn the power back on and the county didn’t release the water— there would be no races at Glen Helen (and they had four different events scheduled).
Luckily, the power came back on. Glen Helen’s John Allen had prepped the REM track with the Cat on Friday and on Saturday morning he was making endless runs with the water truck to get some water into the ground. The wind had died down, the sun was out and it was about 85 degrees. It turned out of a perfect race day, after a rough start.
The best race of the day was the 450 Pro class. The fast four where Brian Medeiros, R.J. Wageman, Dennis Stapleton and Bradley Denton. They quickly moved to the front of the other riders. Hawaiian Brian Medeiros only weighs about 130 pounds, so his Husky FC450 was a rocket to the first turn. And by the end of the first lap he had built up a big lead as Stapleton, Wagemen and Denton battled over second place. That matter was settled when Stapleton fell at the bottom of the big downhill. R.J. Wageman moved into second, but the odds of him catching Medeiros were slim. But, he put his head down and whittled the Hawaiian’s lead down from 15 seconds to 7 seconds as they got the white flag.
All Brian Medeiros had to do was ride at a decent pace and he would take the first moto win. It didn’t work out that way. There was a tight left-hand turn at the top of a small rise, it was built on very bumpy and hard terrain. This corner was hard to get through flawlessly because it dropped away almost instantly down a curving right-hand bend that was off-camber. As Medeiros swung into the first left, there where three lappers in the turn. He tucked in tight and went as far left has he could get, even though that wasn’t the fast line. Unfortunately, as the three lappers jostled for position, one of them got bumped out of the way and swerved in Medeiros’ path—knocking him down. Medeiros got up quickly, but Wageman got by and Stapleton was on his tail. The win went to Wagemen with Medeiros second, Stapleton third and Denton fourth.
The second 450 Pro moto was almost a repeat. Brian Medeiros got another big holeshot and opened up a gap, with Dennis Stapleton second, R.J. Wageman third and Bradley Denton fourth (on a borrowed KTM 450SXF). It looked like the Hawaiian rider would get redemption, but Wageman forced his way by Stapleton at the downhill hairpin and set out after Medeiros. When he caught up, Medeiros picked up the pace and they raced nose to tail for two laps, but finally, the constant pressure forced a mistake from Brian and Wagemen went by. Medeiros immediately fought back and looked like he was going to get back in the lead, but it didn’t work and the next time he got close to R.J. he tried a high risk manueuver and lost 3 seconds. It was all over. Wageman went 1-1, Medeiros 2-2, Stapleton 3-3 and Denton 4-4
In the Over-50 Expert class, which starts with, but doesn’t stay with the Over-50 Elite riders, it was Nick Waters and Chris Radzinski swapping moto wins, but Radzinski’s first moto 7th meant he had no chance of the overall. Aussie Dan Alamangos went 5-3 for third with C.T. Falk fourth and John Griffin fifth.
It isn’t uncommon for the Over-60 guys to race in the Over-50 or Over-40 classes to get in more seat time—and most of the time they win against the younger guys, but their real challenge is to win the Over-60 Expert class. It is packed with hotshot racing talent — albeit from the 1970s. Former AME Indian Dunes Champion Will Harper took the overall win with a 1-1, but he was never alone out front. Dave Eropkin was second with a 3-2 that edged out former CMC #1 rider Val Tamietti’s 4-2. Mike Monaghan, who was a Pro Circuit Husqvarna rider back in the days before Team Peak, was fourth with a 3-5 (on MXA’s Husqvarna FC450), former Baja 500 and Baja 1000 winner Bob Rutten was fifth with a 5-4 in front of Dirt Bike Magazine editor and ISDT medal winner Ron Lawson’s 8-6.
REMAINING 2019 REM RACE SCHEDULE
Oct. 26…Glen Helen (Octobercross on National track)
Nov.1-3 …Glen Helen (World Vet Championship)
Nov. 16…Glen Helen
Nov. 23…Glen Helen
Dec. 14…Glen Helen
Dec. 21…Glen Helen
REM will be back at Glen Helen on October 26 on the Glen Helen National track for their annual Octobercross “World Vet Warm-Up” race. For more info about REM motocross go to www.remsatmx.com or their Facebook page by Clicking Here.