REVISITING THE LAST YEAR’S WORLD VET MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP

Photos by Trevor Nelson, Jody Weisel, Dan Alamangos and Mark Chilson.

The ultimate moment of motocross chiaroscuro was captured when the sun hit the Glen Helen racetrack, but the black storm clouds brooded over the San Bernardino mountains. The weekend was a mixture of sun, rain, sun and more rain.

WITH THE 2021 WORLD VET MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP COMING UP FAST WITH FOUR DAYS OF PRACTICE AND RACING STARTING ON NOVEMBER 4-7. WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE NICE TO TAKE A LOOK BACK TO THE 2020 VET RACE TO SEE
WHO WAS WHO— AND ALSO TO RELIVE THE GLOOMINESS OF A WET COLD DAY FROM THE COMFORT OF OUR
LIVING ROOM COUCH 12 MONTHS LATER. HERE IS THE WHOLE STORY FROM LAST YEAR.

Mike Alessi was smart enough to include the World Two-Stroke Championship and World Vet Championsip, which he won for the first time back in 2016, into his race bonus packages. Most of his sponsors agreed to pay him handsome bonuses if he won—and the kicker was that ESR Racing offered to pay a $20,000 bonus to any Pro rider who won the World Two-Stroke Championship on an ESR Racing YZ325 kitted bike. Mike not only got the $20,000 bonus, he even earned a piece of the $2000 in holeshot bonuses. All in all, Mike went home from the World Two-Stroke race with $30,000 in purse money, the holeshot and bonus money.

So, it was no surprise that Mike showed up at Glen Helen for the Dubya USA-sponsored World Vet Motocross Championships. Although not officially retired from racing, Mike has no interest in the AMA Nationals or the Supercross series. He wants to race for fun—and make money at the same time. A World Vet victory in the prestigious Over-30 class would pay a couple thousand dollars, and there was the additional draw of a Pasha 125 Pro race (for riders over 30 years old), and Mike planned to win that on his way to a big payday.

Rolling whoops are designed to resemble ocean waves, but at the World Vet Championships, they didn’t just look like ocean waves but they were just as wet as well.

Unfortunately for Mike, he didn’t win the Pasha Over-30 125 Pro race; instead, he had a bad moto in the mud and ended up second overall behind MXA’s Dennis Stapleton; however, Mike made $600 in purse money for second place, $250 in holeshot money and a $300 bonus for a total of $1150, which was $150 more than Pasha 125 Pro winner Dennis Stapleton made for winning.

Mike Brown, back on Husqvarna, was fifth in the Over-30 Pros, third in the Over-40 Pros and was drafted onto Team Guam to win the World Vet Cup of Nation’s Over-40 class.

Mike was back on the starting line the next day for the Over-30 class. Although there are World Vet Championships for riders Over-30, Over-40, Over-50, Over-60 and Over-70, only the Over-30, Over-40 and Over-50 Pro classes pay purse money, with the Over-30 class getting the lion’s share of the payout. There was little drama involved in Mike’s first-ever World Vet Motocross Championship. He holeshot both motos, opened up big leads on lap one, and mastered the muddy conditions easily to win both motos in front of a top 10 of Dominic Desimone, Sean Lipanovich, Arik Swan, Mike Brown, Jeff Loop, Dennis Stapleton, Michael Carter, Jetti Pifer and Bryce Huffman.

Mike Alessi had a good month at Glen Helen. Mike won the 2020 World Two-Stroke Championship three weeks before the World Vet, where he easily water-skied to the Over-30 Pro-class victory.

Normally sunny and warm, the charge to the Talladega first turn last year was fraught with peril.

Kurt Nicoll won his fourth Over-50 World Motocross Vet Championship and the Over-50 Pasha 125 Pro class. We promise that is Kurt.

Equally dominant, with strong 1-1 days, was Over-50 World Champion Kurt Nicoll, who won the big Five-Oh crown for the fourth time. Pete Murray also swept both motos of the Over-60 World Championship, and Ike DeJager went 1-1 in the Over-70 World Championship. Nicoll, Murray and DeJager aren’t surprise winners. All three have shown determination and perseverance in the past. Nicoll, a four-time runner-up in the FIM 500 World Championships, took his first Vet World Championship crown in the Over-40 class back in 2015 and then took the Over-50 titles in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

If you made it up the turn at the bottom of Shoei Hill, you didn’t have to worry about anything… for at least three minutes.

Arizona’s Ed Foedish work his way through the deep stuff on his way to second in the Over-50 Pro class.

Over-60 World Champ winner Pete Murray won his first World Vet title 20 years ago, when he won the 2000 Over-40 World Championship. Twelve long years after his first World Vet crown, he won the Over-50 World Championship in 2012. When Pete turned 60 in 2019, he won his third World Championship and backed it up with what would be his fourth World Crown this year—a 20-year span from his first win to his latest win.

Multi-time AMA 250 National Champion Gary Jones never quit racing after his 1971-1974 Championship seasons. Gary has won the Over-30, Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 World Vet Championship. He will turn 70 years old in 2022 and try to win that title for a clean sweep.

Over-70 Champ Ike DeJager won the Over-50 World Vet Championship in 2001, which was the first year that the Over-70 Championship was added to the World Vet program, but that class didn’t mean anything to Ike at the time. Nineteen years later, when Ike turned 70 years old and hadn’t won any other World Vet titles, it became his main focus. Ike won the 2019 Over-70 World Championship and returned in 2020 to repeat the win, making him a three-time World Vet Champ.

Hollywood actor Pasha Afshar (aka Tony Panterra) put up $4000 in purse money for the Over-50 and Over-30 125 Pro classes. (From left to right) Shaun Hillion, Dennis Stapleton and Mike Alessi collect the loot from Pasha Afshar. Hillion was mis-scored and had to give the money back.

These older riders are not as high profile as the youngsters in the Over-30 and Over-40 classes, but they are remarkable men and are the heart and soul of what Vet racing is all about.

In a mud race you will use anything or anyone to get a little extra traction.

This is a 70 mph first turn on a dry day but the speed dropped about 50mph in 2020—and even that was too fast.

The 2020 Dubya World Vet Championship was affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as riders from France, Spain, Germany, England, Holland, Japan, Mexico, Canada and other far corners of the world faced 14-day quarantines when they got home if they came to the World Vet. Thus, the international turnout was reduced, but, amazingly, riders from all across the USA came to take the foreign riders’ places. The number of states represented was impressive. Here’s hoping that 2021 dawns clear and bright and the pandemic and its terrible toll are a thing of the past. In which case, let’s race!

WORLD VET CHAMPIONSHIP CUP OF NATIONS

Under COVID-19 rules for the 2020 World Cup of Nations, a passport-holding Team Captain from a foreign country could draft two riders from any country to fill out his team. Guamanian Sean Lipanovich (center) drafted Mike Brown and Doug Dubach. Their six scores were 1-2-1-1-1-1. They same Covid rules may applied for the 2021 race.

The World Vet Cup of Nations is usually manned by three-man teams of Vet riders from each country. Last year there were 21 teams in the event, but this year, with the pandemic presenting travel issues, there were only 12 teams and the requirement of having three riders from Spain or England or Mexico or any other country was modified to ensure that the race could continue. The rules were changed, for this year only, to allow a Team Captain, who held a passport from his home country, to select a team from available Vet riders.

For the weekend, the fill-in riders would be honorary citizens of Holland, Puerto Rico, Poland, Australia or the other nations. Sometimes it worked out that three racers from a given country were already in the USA, as with Team Poland, Team Australia and Team Ireland. But most of the time, the Team Captain selected two of his friends, racing buddies, or, in the case of Team Guam, two of the fastest World Vet Champions of all time. Check the results for your favorite country.

EDISON DYE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Rex Staten was honored with the Edison Dye Lifetime Achievement Award—which was presented to Rocket Rex in a packed Glen Helen Museum on Sunday—and included the film below. These giant posters were sprinkled around the track with Rex Staten on the bottom and Andy Jefferson on his Pro Circuit Husqvarna on the top. The Jefferson art was also the official T-shirt design.

2020 DUBYA WORLD VETERAN MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

The 2021 Dubya World Vet Championship in on November 4-7 (with racing on Saturday, November 6,  and Sunday, November 7). For more info go to www.glenhelen.com

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