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Photos by Debbi Tamietti, Jon Ortner, Rich Stuelke and Dan Alamangos

Mike Sleeter (111) took the Vet Pro win, but was shadowed by MXA’s Dennis Stapleton (47) all day. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

No matter how popular the REM Glen Helen motocross races are, you can’t avoid the fact that they are just local races. Yes, they do draw factory riders looking for a rough track to test out a recently healed knee, visiting Pros from Europe looking for a challenge and racers on vacation in SoCal who want to squeeze in a moto or two. But, this is still a down-home American race—the kind where “everybody knows your name.” There are minimal rules, it is family-run (by a incredibly nice family), the motos are long, the track is tough and the regular motocross racers are loyal.

250 Pro winner Robbie Wageman. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

Ever since the “Commotion-by-the-Ocean” race moved from Carlsbad Raceway to Glen Helen, and changed its name to the “Octobercross,” because Glen Helen is nowhere near the ocean, it has been fortunate to be held exactly one week before the Dubya World Vet Championships. By being scheduled 7 days before the World Vet, the Octobercross has the opportunity to try out new track designs before the big yearly World Vet extravaganza. This year was no different.

450 Pro winner R.J. Wageman. Photo: Dan Alamangos

Most of the Glen Helen track had been left intact after the USGP in September—but World Vet promoter Tom White wanted something more Vet friendly and a little less intense. You wouldn’t think he would want the same track designer who built the Glen Helen National Motocross track, with its unbelievable “Unrhythm” section, or the USGP with the massive “Triple Step-Up,” to build the World Vet track. But, that is exactly who Tom White wanted. Jody Weisel came in three days before the “Octobercross” and gave Glen Helen a make-over that didn’t diminish its magnitude, but made it more fun and produced jumps and obstacles that could be ridden by the Pros in the Over-30, Over-40 and Over-50 classes, yet still safe for the Novices in the Over-50, Over-60 and Over-70s classes

Justin Muscutt (116) and Robbie Wageman (108) do a little formation flying over Glen Helen’s hip jump. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

Most interesting was a new turn at the top of Mt. Saint Helen that was just below the flag pole instead of behind it. This made the big hill 100% visible (with no riders going out of sight) and opened up more possibilities on the downhill side.

Willy Simons, Jr. (246) is hooked up on the back side of this hump, but Gage Schehr (188) is having a BVD moment. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

Thanks to a rare rainstorm early in the week, the dirt was epic when the crowd began to arrive in the pits. In a strange twist, the pits were filled with the regular REM crew (who never miss a race), a new group of younger riders (who normally avoid REM because it is too rough and not jumpy enough to their Milliennial tastes) and a massive influx of foreign motocross racers (who came a week early to get a chance to race on the World Vet layout in advance of the rest of the world).

Andy Jefferson was the first black rider to ever qualify for an AMA Supercross. Back then, Andy was sponsored by a Husqvarna shop owned by a guy named Mitch Payton. Today, Andy works at Husqvarna North America. Andy was third in the Over-50 Pro class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

There were motocrossers from Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Sweden, Uganda, Italy, France, Kuwait, South Africa, Holland, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Israel and Denmark. For many of them, they just wanted to be able to go home and say they raced at Glen Helen. Others had hopes of not just winning the REM Octobercross, but carried that victory over to the World Vet Championship on Nov. 5-6.

Kurt Nicoll was happy to win the Over-40 World Championship in 2015, but what he really wants to do is win the Over-40 and Over-50 classes in 2016. Photo: Dan Alamangos


Australian Mike Reefman (1) was second in the Over-40 Pro class behind Kurt Nicoll. Photo: Dan Alamangos

Not surprisingly most of the motocross riders and fans were focused on the important classes for the upcoming World Vet. With a lot of the big players in the premier classes at the REM race, it was a good chance to handicap what might happen in 7 days. Although, riders who have won the Octobercross in the past, claim that what you do at Octobercross has no bearing on what will happen at the World Vet,

MXA’s Jody Weisel won the Over-60 Intermediate class, but it wasn’t because of his starts. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

The Vet Pro class was won by Mike Sleeter, who has been putting in some serious laps for the last months to try to shake his perennial bridesmaid string of second place finishes at the Vet race.

This is the Over-60 Intermediate class going into turn two. That’s Kent Reed (491) in the lead. Eventual winner Jody Weisel (192) is in the upper right hand corner of the photo in 11th place. He proved  his track design wasn’t a one-line track by passing everybody to take the win. Photo: Jon Ortner

England’s Kurt Nicoll won the Over-40 Pro class, even though Kurt is over 50 years old. Kurt is the current Over-40 World Champion and plans to defend that title in one week against Josh Coppins, Doug Dubach, Greg Albertyn, Daryl Hurley and Daryll King.

Tom White had to get his fill of racing this week at Octobercross, because he’ll be too busy announcing and running next week’s World Vet Championship to race. Photo: Jon Ortner

The REM Over-50 Pro class is one of the toughest weekly races in the country for riders a half-century old. And the Octobercross field didn’t disappoint in the first moto as Pete DeGraaf, Andy Jefferson, Luther French, Bob Weber, Ron Engel, Jon Ortner and Pete Murray were all contenders —with untouted Luther French taking the win over a fast charging Pete Murray (on a YZ250F). Unfortunately, the second moto was marred by a crash over the hip jump when two riders collided in mid-air and blocked the track. Since the race was past half-way when it was red flagged, the result were back up one lap and made official. Luther’s 1-2 was good enough for the win, while three-time Over-50 World Champion Pete Degraaf (who is over 60 years old) ended the day with a 3-1 in front of a top five that included  Andy Jefferson, Rob Engel and Jon Ortner.

75-year-old Lars Larsson came to the United States in 1967 to demonstrate the sport of motocross to American teenagers. The Swedish GP riders stayed and started Thor. Next Sunday he will receive the Edison Dye Lifetime Achievement Award during half-time at the World Vet Championship. It’s fitting because Edison Dye was the man who brought Lars to America.. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

Pete DeGraaf returned to win both motos of the Over-60 Expert class over 1980 AMA 500 National Champion Chuck Sun, who just turned 60,  with New Zealand’s Tony Cooksley in third. Cooksley raced for Team New Zealand at the Motocross des Nations 29 years ago.

Swedish rider Jan Oxelmark (500) went 5-11 in the Over-60 Expert class. Photo: Dan Alamangos

If you think that the Over-60 class is filled with white-haired old men, then you are correct, but they are very fast…and, amazingly,  there were 37 riders over the age of 60 on the line at the REM Octobercross. The oldest was three-time World Vet Champion Lars Larsson at 75.

A water pipe broke and flooded this corner. Sean Bailey (3) plows through it, while Jeff Fine  (777) ducks. Sean and his dad, multi-time AMA Champion David Bailey, came out to enjoy some father/son time at the REM races. Photo: Dan Alamangos

As for the 250 and 450 Pro races, those riders are too young to race at the World Vet, so the Octobercross was their chance to race the new motocross track before it goes into full old-fogey lockdown.

There was a large contingent of Brazilian riders at REM. Richard Berois (9) was 7th in the Over-40 Expert class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

It was a good day for the Wageman brothers, who’s father Russ was an AMA Pro, as they won the 250 Pro class (Robbie) and 450 Pro class (R.J.). Willy Simons, Jr., who’s dad was also an AMA Pro, won the second 250 Pro moto, but was involved in a crash in the first moto that left him with a 4-1 day. Third was Kai Mukai (2-3).

South African Greg Aspinall went 2-1 to win the Over-40 Experts, not to be confused with the Over-40 Pros, in front of James Lavender’s 1-5. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

The Over-40 Intermediates climb the first big hill. Photo: Rich Stuelke

This is the breakdown by the brands that the riders rode this weekend:
1. KTM…………37%
2. Yamaha……20%
3. Honda……..18%
4. Husky……….8.5%
5. Kawasaki….7%
6. Suzuki………6.5%
7. TM……………3%

Carson Mumford was second in the 125 Two-Stroke class on his fuel-injected Honda CRF150 four-stroke. It does seem strange doesn’t it. Julien Beaumer took the win with a 1-1. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

REM does not race on World Vet weekend, but return to the following Saturday, November 12, for the final 5 races of the 40-race-long 2016 REM motocross season

Nov 12…Glen Helen, CA
Nov. 19…Glen Helen, CA
Nov. 26…No race (Day in the Dirt)
Dec. 3….Glen Helen, CA
Dec. 10…Glen Helen, CA
Dec. 17…Glen Helen, CA
Dec. 25…No race (Christmas Day)
Dec. 31…No race (New Year’s Eve)

South African Alan Jullien (86) looks back to see if the orange cone he hit misses the rider behind him. Photo: Dan Alamangos

The Hawaiians were out in force with Tony Giusti (56), Kai Mukai and Brian Medeiros. Photo: Dan Alamangos


The regular REM racers love photographer Debbi Tamietti and this week, at the rider’s meeting, Bill Seifert (left with Debbi) and Tom White presented her with a poster-size photo of her USGP start image. Photo: Jon Ortner

This is the actual photo that Debbi shot of the start at the USGP in September. Photo: Sebbi Tamietti

Pam Skinner ask her husband Randy Skinner to buy her a new camera, so she could shoot motocross photos with friend Debbi Tamietti. Once Randy saw the price of new cameras he built Pam a camera in the garage out of spare parts. Photo: Dan Alamangos

Larry Brooks has been at REM for the last couple months coaching his riders. Photo: Jon Ortner

Dennis Stapleton (left) and Andy Jefferson (right) watch the action between motos. Photo: Jon Ortner

Ugandan motocross racers Stav and Aviv Orland are very fast 85 Experts. Photo:: Jon Ortner

Chuck Sun (center) hangs out with Australians Dan (left) and Chris (right) Alamangos. Photo: Jon Ortner

For more info about REM motocross go to


andy jeffersonDENNIS STAPELTONglen helenjody weiselmotocrossmxaoctobercrossrem motocrossrj wagemanwilly simonsworld vet championship