REM GLEN HELEN: MIKE ALESSI WINS A WEIRD ONE IN SOCAL

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 Photos by Dan Alamangos and Debbi Tamietti

DEBalessiMike Alessi holeshot both 450 Pro motos and basically contented himself with handling the challenging track. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

It’s no secret that California is in the middle of a four-year drought. And in a place that doesn’t get very much rain to begin with, a drought is something to behold. Thus, you can forgive the REM motocross racers for showing up at Glen Helen ill-prepared for anything wet falling from the sky. So, of course, in the middle of a drought — it rained.

DANALESSIHow big are the berms at your track? Mike Alessi is gulped up by the cavernous sand berms in turn two. Photo: Dan Alamangos

Every Spring, leading up to the Glen Helen National, REM holds 30-minute motos for the Pros. They do this as a service for the foreign riders, aspiring AMA Pros and local riders who have never been in a true-to-life 30 minute moto — especially on a rough track like Glen Helen. It gives first year Pros and veteran AMA riders (especially those coming back from injuries) a chance to test their fitness. This week’s race was the first of three 30-minute weekends (the next one is on Saturday, May 2, and the third is on May 9).

DANRICHARDSONAustralian Jackson Richardson could keep Mike Alessi in sight for the first half of the motos, but the fast pace and his own mistakes forced him to settle for a 2-2 day. Photo: Dan Alamangos

Mike Alessi, Jackson Richardson, Colton Haaker, Preston Tilford, Shane Post, Justin Jones, Dustin Cresson, Jes Pettis and a host of other riders took the challenge. For Mike Alessi, who injured his back at the Daytona Supercross, it was a chance to shakedown his body as much as his bike. And Mike looked ready. Mike holeshot both Pro motos and steadily pulled away. Glen Helen’s steep hills always provide moments that could ruin a day, but while Alessi wasn’t perfect, he was the best of the bunch.

DAN HAAKERColton Haaker (10) is making a name for himself as a motocross racer. He was second at the 2015 World Two-Stroke Championships and third behind Alessi and Richardon at REM. Photo: Dan Alamangos

The day started off perfectly. The track had undergone some changes as it is sleadily being changed into the AMA National layout and the corners and more difficult hills provided the riders with a more technical layout than over the last few months. It was designed to test the riders, but the layout, which didn’t represent a very large percentage of the eventual National track gave the track builders a chance to look at prospective corners shapes before they are set in stone. It wasn’t raining in the morning, but it was cool by SoCal standards, but then anything below 80 degrees is always met with a stocking cap … wait a minute, even 99-degree weather is met with a stocking cap by SoCal’s wannabe cool hipsters.

DANJUSTINJONESJustin Jones is blazing fast. He came from mid-pack to third in the first 10 minutes of the first 30-minute 450 Pro moto, but a strange stomach ailment that has haunted him this year forced the ISDE Gold Medallist to pull in and call it a day. Photo: Dan Alamangos

The first motos were greeted by big hills, difficult off camber turns and and a couple of surprises for the unwary. The dirt was the best it has been since the last time it rained, but no one remembered when that was. Then, it started to drizzle. And it never stopped. Sometimes it was just a mist and other times it was a steady pitter-patter. It was never a downpour, but the cumulative effect was the same. Great berms, awesome starts and ice rink slick down hills were the result. Most riders claimed that when they came down Mount Saint Helen it was best to not even touch the brakes — just hit the berm at the bottom and hope for the best.

DANbannisterColorado Springs’ Todd Bannister (120) was 7th in the 450 Pro class with an 8-7 day, while Dustin Creson (444) won the 250 Pro class. Photo: Dan Alamangos

DANaustinbAustin Burke (52) won the 250 Intermediate class in front of Derek Kelley, Tanner Basso and Brayton Walker. Photo: Dan Alamangos

DEBderekkelleyThe dirt didn’t look muddy, but if you grabbed a big handful, like Derek Kelley (227), you were in for a thrill ride. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

The racers never gave up. They crashed in the muddy ruts, picked their bikes up and crashed again. For the front runners who found the happy medium between going fast and not losing it, the rain was no problem. And, to Califronians the rain is a welcomed sight — but as is always the case in SoCal, the rain that fell at Glen Helen did not fall in Los Angeles. Glen Helen was just on the storm track’s narrow path. As for the drought, at least the riders jersey’s could be wrung out to water some house plants.

DANJESPETTISPrince George, British Columbia’s Jes Pettis went 2-2 in the 250 Pro. Pettis is best known for racing the Canadian Nationals. Photo: Dan Alamangos

REM races again next Saturday, May 2. The Pro races will be 30-minutes long. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com

DANNEILCHATHAM450IBritish rider Neil Chatham (10) finished second in the 450 Intermediates behind Hawaiian Kai Mukai, but in front of Texan Brendan Sipple. Photo: Dan Alamangos

 

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DEBrainprepSoCal mechanics are ready for rainy weather, but their bikes have absolutely no rain prep done to them. Why? Because it doesn’t rain in Southern California. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

DEBjoshkaller250IJosh Kaller (15) is in a lot of trouble. He threw his goggles away in the rain. His front tire is pushing up the inside of the rut. And, his left leg is bent like a pretzel. Kaller overcame his problems to get fifth in the 250 Intermediate class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

DEBbradleycoleBradley Cole must have liked what he saw in Josh Kaller’s riding style because he tried to emulate Kaller’s left leg style in the 250 Novice class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

DebjordanbernsJordan Burns doesn’t want to waste any money on tear-offs, so he just wipes his goggles with the back of his hand. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

DEBmarkhallMark Hall borrowed Jody’s KTM 250SX two-stroke a month ago and now he won’t give it back. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

 

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DEBlylesweeter50ELyle Sweeter used a 4-1 to take the overall in the Over-60 Expert class. Gary Jones won the first moto, but decided that he didn’t want to race in the rain for moto two. Mike Marion got second with a 2-4. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

DEBshawnwynneFormer Pro Shawn Wynne has a TM deal to race the Glen Helen 250/450 National Two-Stroke class on May 23. He is working out the set-up bugs before the big day. Photo: Debbi Tamietti

DANWILSIMONSWilly Simons, Jr. tempts the fates and gravity while railing a Glen Helen berm. Will Junior was second in the first 250 Intermediate moto, but had to skip the second moto to take his buddy Bradley Denton to the hospital. Denton broke his collarbone. Photo: Dan Alamangos

DANRAFAELRIVERA40NOver-40 Novice Rafael Rivera (129) is chased by Kevin Merlo (897). Rivera would go 4-2 for second, while Merlo went 6-5 for fifth. Photo: Dan Alamangos

DANralfTM importer Ralf Schmidt’s stand-up-style is unusual in riders over the age of 40, where they typically depend on a bump to get them on their feet. Ralf won the Over-40 Intermediate class. The Dutch native said, “What rain? You calls this rain? Where I come from this is liquid sunshine.” Photo: Dan Alamangos

DANJOLLEYVNSomeone had to be in the last race of the day. As the clouds darkened and the rain picked up it was fitting that KTM rider Dan Jolley came prepared for the worst. Jolley won the Vet Novice class. Photo: Dan Alamangos

 

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