Preston Tilford has one week left before he races his first AMA National. It is a major moment for Preston, not only for the excitement of going to the Big Show, but because it will be his last ride for the Vance & Hines amateur team. Now, he has to find a new ride.
As always the weekly SoCal moto-wars were packed with lots of excitement as the regulars poured into Glen Helen’s REM races for race 30 of the longest point paying motocross series in the country. There are still ten points paying races to go to see who will get to wear the number one plate at Glen Helen for next year (although it should be noted that none of the Glen Helen number one riders have ever put the “number one” on their bikes…preferring to race with their regulars numbers). Here are this week’s story lines:
The REM number ones include nine-time World Vet Champion Alan Olson, the late Rich Eierstedt, 250 Pro Billy Musgrave, Swede Bengt Johansson, MXA‘s Jody Weisel and four-time REM number one Dennis Boulware (he is the current 2010 Champion, but the small 2010 plate is missing).
450 PRO CLASS: Preston Tilford has been racing his Vance & Hines YZ250F in the 450 Pro class over the last few races as a way of preparing for his AMA Pro debut at next week’s National finale. It has been going very well, and Tilford and his little bike won again with an clean 1-1 sweep of both motos. Behind Tilford came MXA test rider Dennis Stapleton, Chris See, Mark Tilley, Brian Nelson, Brian Bebeck and Kris Keefer (who showed up feeling sick, but came out to support his friend, but was too sick to continue after a brave third in moto one behind Tilford and Stapleton). Travis Bright won the 250 Pro class in front of two-stroke-mounted Billy Musgrave.
With his service not required in Holland, the Phillipines or China, MXA’s Dennis Stapleton came to REM to get in a warm-up before the Pala National. Dennis was second overall in the 450 Pro race.
450 INTERMEDIATES: Justin Jones, son of four-time 250 National Champion Gary Jones, wants to get a support deal for the major amateur races for 2012, but when one team manager suggest that perhaps he was too tall to race a 250 four-stroke, Jones borrowed a CRF250 to show what he could do. Then, when he discovered that the 250 Intermediates would race in the second gate behind the Pro start, he moved to the 450 Intermediate class on the CRF250 so that he could be with the Pro riders. Jones might well have proved his point as he finished third overall in the first moto (behind Tilford and Stapleton) and fourth overall in the second moto behind Tilford, Tilley and Stapleton. Of course, he won the 450 Intermediates, but would have been third overall in the 450 Pro class.
Justin Jones wanted to prove that he could ride a 250F, so he borrowed one and won the 450 Intermediate class…and would have been third in the 450 Pros.
OVER-50 EXPERT: Do you know who Andy Jefferson is? Andy was the first African-American professional motocross racer to make an AMA Supercross main (and he did it during the era when there was no 125 or 250F support classes bleeding off the competition). Jefferson was a member of Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit team back when he was young. Now, Andy is in his 50s…and he proved to the biggest field of the day at REM that he hasn’t lost anything. Today, Andy works for Husqvarna North America and he showed up at REM with a stripped-down Husqvarna TE310 four-stroke. Although he didn’t get great starts, he quickly moved through the pack to take the lead in both races (coming from a fifth place start in moto one and a ninth place start in moto two).
Andy Jefferson was the class of the field in the Over-50 Expert class. It was the biggest class of the day at REM.
Jefferson went 1-1 in front of a top ten of Greg Nelson (2-3), Kurt Sofka, Jr. (4-2), Willie Amaradio (30-6), Dennis Boulware (6-4), David Blunk (7-7), Bob Rutten (12-5), Randy Skinner (9-9), Dave Eropkin (5-13) and George Kohler (8-11).
Dennis Boulware (44) leads the first Over-50 Expert moto in front Greg Nelson (385), Dave Eropkin (811) and Kurt Sofka (behind Eropkin). Photo: Mark Chilson
Sean Bell was the 85 Novice winner.
THE MINIS: Jeff Ward’s son, Aryton, won the 85 Expert class. Mike Bell’s son, Sean, won the 85 Novice class. Robot Rogers’ son, Mikael, won the 150 Beginners. Matthew Bailey, no relation to David Bailey, took the 85 Beginner class.
Eric Casas (103 or 7?take your pick) cuts under Over-60 Expert winner Lyle Sweeter (55).
125 ADULT “A”: The 125cc Adult “A” riders started in the gate behind the Over-60 Experts, but it didn’t take long for front runners Eric Casas (CR125) and Ron Lawson (KTM 125SX) to close the 30-second gap and begin working their way through the old guys. Casas would go 1-1, but Lawson kept him in sight.
What will you be doing when you are 80-years-old? Probably not what Feets Minert (45) is doing. Feets leads a pack of guys through an Glen Helen S-turn.
OVER-60 EXPERT: The Over-60 Experts are always interesting. Because of the nature of the class, most of the riders are heroes from the past who just never quit racing…even though time said they should. This week’s battle up front was between Tom White and Lyle Sweeter. The former White Brother led, but Sweeter managed to get him in both motos. Third went to former Saddleback ace Ray Pisarski. The battle for fourth and fifth was between 1991 Over-50 Vet World Champion Ron Dugan and former CMC (1984) and REM (1998) number 1 rider Jody Weisel. Bill Seifert was sixth with AMA Hall of Famer Chuck “Feets” Minert sixth.
Jon Rice (51) and Andrew Williams (233) do a little rubbing in the 250 Novice class
250 NOVICE: Jon Rice, the grandson of the famous 1960’s race John “John R” Rice, went 1-1 in the 250 Novice class, but he had to race for it as Hayden Joseph (3-2), Travis Hoffman (2-5) and Benny O’Connor (5-3) kept him honest. Jon Rice is the son of women racer Tami Rice.
Todd Baldwin does a little product testing for Malcolm Smith Motosports. Todd used a KTM 350SXF to finish fourth overall in the Over-50 Intermediate class.
OVER-50 INTERMEDIATE: As the Over-50 Expert class gets bigger and faster with each passing week, the Over-50 intermediates have also become faster (as lots of riders try to duck the firepower in the next class up). This week two former Saddleback Pro riders split moto wins. Bob Marino went 2-1, while Robot Rogers went 1-2. Mark Hall, another Over-50 Expert transplant, was third with Malcolm Smith’s Todd Baldwin fourth. Marc Crosby was fifth, Lyle Sweeter sixth and Kirk Waymire seventh.
Mike Hillion (413), Broc Randall (88), Russell Brown (4), Ernie Becker (82), Matt Brown (63) and Nate Bailey (6) fan out in a loose Conga line.
OVER-40 NOVICE: These guys race against each other every week and know all the moves. Russell Brown took the win with a 1-1 in front of Ernie Becker (3-2), Scott Noseworthy (2-4), Mike Hillion (4-3), Pasha Afshar (6-5) and Steve See (5-8).
Bob Rutten (83) drives in from Las Vegas to race at Glen Helen. Of course, for a guy who made his name in 1000-mile offroad races, that isn’t so far.
The breakdown by brands for this week’s races was: Honda 30%, Yamaha 27%, KTM 17%, Kawasaki 16%, Suzuki 9%, others (TM and Husqvarna) 1%.
REM races again next Saturday, September 10. Practice starts at 9:00 am. You can race REM and still get home in time to watch the AMA National on TV. For more info, go to www.remsatmx.com
Photos by Ernie Becker & Dan Alamangos