REM GLEN HELEN: MIKE ALESSI WINS A WEIRD ONE IN SOCAL
Photos by Dan Alamangos and 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.
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).
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.
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.
Justin 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.
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.
REM races again next Saturday, May 2. The Pro races will be 30-minutes long. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
Josh 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
Lyle 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
Willy 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
TM 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
Someone 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