You don’t see a couple TMs dueling at very many tracks in the USA. Ralf Schmidt and Luis Macias put on a show. Photo: Debbi Tamietti. Click on images to enlarge

After a week of wildfires and high winds, a return to REM motocross was high on the list of SoCal racers. It was a break from the terrible news of burned houses, fallen trees, blown-up transformers and closed freeways. But the specter of high winds still worried the REM regulars, but instead of the predicted gusts coming down the canyon that Glen Helen Raceway sits at the base of, there was only a steady breeze and the occasional blast—nothing by Glen Helen’s wind standard. It was a pleasant 80 degrees.

John Caper (67) grabs a big handful and showers Brian Martin’s KTM 350SXF with roost. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

When winds are predicted, REM takes the big hill out of the track layout to keep the riders from being buffeted as they crest the lip of Mt. Whitney. Luckily, the REM track offers lots of elevation change and length without having to go up the main hill.

Anthony Keasey (115) fist bumps Wesley Watkins (27) after their race. Close racing and good sportsmanship is what racing is all about. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

There were lots of racing tales to tell, but here are the big stories from this weekend at Glen Helen.

Sean Lipanovich made it four wins in four tries in the 450 Pro class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

Blake Lilly thought that there was a solar eclipse at Glen Helen in the 450 Pro class, but it was just a meteor shower of decomposed granite. Photo: Jon Ortner

Justin Muscutt is back from racing the Indian Supercross Championship in Puna, India. Justin got to see the Taj Mahal. He went 2-3 in the 450 Pro class at REM. Photo: Jon Ortner

450 Pro: Sean Lipanovich had retired from the AMA National a few years ago to focus on his motocross school, but this year he decided to make a return to racing and has reeled off 4 straight wins in the 450 Pro class at REM. He wasn’t challenged out front this weekend, but behind him Blake Lilly and Justin Muscurr battled over second place.

Jon Ortner was going to have a long battle with first Over-50 Elite moto winner Luther French, until Luther threw it away in moto two. Just like Anthony Keasey in the minis, Jon showed good sportsmanship by slowing down to make sure Luther was okay before continuing. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

Over-50 Elite: This class is a special class that sits above Over-50 Expert and is reserved for a selected group of riders, who because of their AMA Pro background or sheer speed, are too good for the large number of Over-50 Experts. Thus, they got moved to a special class by themselves. In 2017 Over-50 Elite winners have included Ron Lechien, Doug Dubach, Gordon Ward, Pete Murray, Eddie Davis, Luther French and Jon Ortner. But on a weekly basis the battle boils down to Jon Ortner versus Luther French. Ortner is the winningest Elite rider of 2017 with 9 wins, while French has won 3 times and was second 10 times. This week Luther French won the first moto by 5 seconds over Ortner and was leading the second moto by the same margin before crashing really hard at the end of the whoop section. Ortner sprinted away the overall win with a 2-1, while Luther picked himself up about 40 seconds back and soldiered in for second.

If you raced at Saddleback, Irwinsdale, Ascot or Indian Dunes in the 1970s you heard of these two guys. Val Tamietti (31) and Dave Eropkin (811) battle for the Over-60 Expert victory. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

Over-60 Expert: If you had told a motocrosser 10 or 15 years ago that riders over the age of 60 years old would be a force in motocross, they would have laughed at you. But, for the first time ever at Glen Helen, the Over-60 Expert class was the biggest class of the day (and as a group, riders over 60 years old made up 20% of all the racers at REM). And this isn’t your grandpa out there puttin’ around the track (although he could be). Instead these are some big names from the 1970s. The top three this weekend were former CMC number one and Maico star Val Tamietti, SoCal 125 Pro Dave Eropkin and former Baja 500 and 1000 winner Bob Rutten. The winners of the Over-60 Expert class in 2017 include former Japanese Champion Isao Ida, Former New Zealand Champion and MXDN rider Tony Cooksey, 1980 AMA 500 National Champion and MXDN winner Chuck Sun, former Pro Jim Latendresse, So Cal regular Joe Pena and Saddleback star Val Tamietti. Val is the winningest rider in any class at Glen Helen in 2017 with 15 victories (9 of them in a row).

Japanese rider Tatsushi Kawakami (412) leads David Cincotta (861) and Thomas Wilcox (59), who just pushed Carter Dubach off the track in the Intermediate race. Photo: Jon Ortner

Most of the MXA test riders were busy doing two-stroke testing. Here, Josh Fout cranks a 2018 Yamaha YZ250 into a left-hander. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

OVER-60 Intermediate: Just below the Over-60 Experts come the Over-60 Intermediates. This class is noteworthy because it has the most winners in 2017. An amazing 12 different riders have won the Over-60 Intermediates—a class which is made up of former Over-60 Experts (who not surprisingly were also former Over-50 Experts, Over-40 Experts, Over-30 Experts and, at one time, 18-year-old Experts), former Over-60 Experts who are now over 70 years old and a bunch of young whippersnappers who just turned 60 this year. The 12 winners include Kent Reed (5 wins), Jody Weisel (3 wins), John Bosanko (3 wins), George Kohler (2 wins), Phil Cruz (2 wins) and 1 win apiece for Dan Schramm, Tim Hoole, Jim Butts, Steve Chandler, Bill Seifert, Duane Joice & Glenn Senecal.


Blake Lilly’s 3-2 earned him second in the 450 Pro class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

450 PRO
1. Sean Lipanovich…1-1
2, Blake Lilly…3-2
3. Justin Muscutt…2-3

1. Pablo Mogollon…1-1
2. Carter Dubach…3-2
3. Tatsushi Kawakami…2-4

Over-50 Elite rider Luther French gets the holeshot over Over-50 Expert winner Ron Shuler (33) and second place Over-50 Expert Pasha Afshar (L7). Photo: Debbi Tamietti

1. Alan Jullien…2-2
2. David Cincotta…4-1
3. Ralf Schmidt…3-3

Joe Sutter (111), Jon Ortner (10) and Chris Radzinski (104) engage in close combat. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

1. Ron Shuler…1-1
2. Pasha Afshar…3-3
3. Joe Sutter…2-4

Randy Skinner looking for traction. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

1. Randy Skinner…1-1
2. Bryan Friday…2-2
3. Robert Pocius…3-3

1. Val Tamietti…1-1
2. Dave Eropkin…3-2
3. Bob Rutten…2-3

Hunter Taft won the 250 Beginner class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

1. Phil Cruz…2-1
2. Steven Chandler…1-2
3. John Caper…3-3

1. Michael Kun…1-1
2. Mike Witzke…2-2
3. Steve Witzke…3-3

You aren’t always going straight up or down at Glen Helen, sometimes you doing S-turns while going up and down. Photo: Rich Stuelke

1. Louie Romo…1-1
2. Ken Clark…2-2
3. Pete Vetrano…3-3

Steve Watson (11), Luc Delay (48) and Darren Berg (2) form a conga line in the Over-50 class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

1. Glenn Pietronica…2-1
2. Luc Deley…1-3
3. Lance Sloane…3-2

It’s a Witzke family reunion. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

1. Jack Aaron…1-1
2. David Treadwell…4-2
3. Anthony Keasey…3-3

REM races again next Saturday, December 16, before taking Christmas weekend off. They will return to Glen Helen again on December 30. For more info go to

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