REM GLEN HELEN MOTOCROSS RACE REPORT: GARETH SWANEPOEL, JEFF WARD, BRIAN SJOGREN, ALAN OLSON, BEN EVANS & PRESTON TILFORD GO THE DISTANCE
Gareth Swanepoel (387) spent the complete first moto chasing Brian Sjogren, but first Swanepoel had to work his way past MXA’s Dennis Stapleton (82), who holeshot both Pro motos. Swanepoel won the 250 Pro class, Sjogren won the 450 Pro class and Dennis Stapleton was fourth in the 450 Pros.
The promise of 30-minute-long Pro motos brought out several aspiring AMA Nationals riders for a chance to test their fitness over a distance much closers to National-length than the typical five laps and cloud of dust that you get at most race weekends
Ben Evans (49) and V&H sponsored Preston Tilford (74) were never more than this far apart in the second 250 Pro motos. Tilford got second overall in the 250 class, while Evans was third.
Former Grand Prix contender Gareth Swanepoel got injured during the AMA Supercross season, and decided to race at REM to prepare for his first full season in the AMA 250 Nationals (Swanepoel made the top ten at the final AMA National of 2010).
Swanepoel won both motos of the 250 Pro class in front of Vance & Hines young up-and-comer Preston Tilford, Truth MX’s Ben Evans, Cody Woodworth and MXA‘s Billy Musgrave. Swanepoel, a South African, actually won the second Pro moto overall?which means that he took his DNA Shred Stix / Star Racing YZ250F to the front of all of the 250 and 450 Pros.
Dennis Stapleton (82) was testing Showa works SFF suspension on MXA’s YZ450F and had a busy week ahead with REM on Saturday, the World Two-Stroke race on Sunday and a quick trip to the Philippines on Tuesday.
In the 450 Pro class, Brian Sjogren won the first moto (and the overall Pro class), but got a bad start in moto two and by the time he got into second place, Swanepoel’s YZ250F was gone. NCY’s Joey Webb, Swede Niclas Gustavsson, MXA‘s Dennis Stapleton and Chris Hay rounded out the top five in the 450 Pro class behind Sjogren.
Brian Sjogren was brilliant in the first Pro moto. He held off all contenders to take the overall win (beating all of the 450 and 250 riders), the second moto didn’t go as well. First, Swanepoel took the overall win (on a 250), and when Sjogren looked back to see where Evans and Tilford were at on the last lap, he ran off the track. It didn’t matter, because he was still the first 450.
Cody Brownfield won the 450 Intermediate class, while Justin Jones used a YZ250 two-stroke to take the 250 Intermediate class victory.
Motocross has lots of age groups, Vet, Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60, but amazingly Chuck “Feets” Minert (45) will be 80 years old in three months. The former BSA factory rider and 1956 Catalina Grand Prix winner raced his first race in 1947…and he has no plans to quit racing any time soon.
Four-time 250 National Champion Gary Jones made a return to racing on a 2011 TM MX450Fi. It must be good because Jones won the first moto of the Over-50 Experts with ease. Unfortunately, the second moto was marred by an 11th place finish.
THE OLD GUYS REIGN SUPREME
REM has some of the toughest Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 classes in the world. Need proof?
In the Over-40 Expert class?none other than seven-time AMA National Champion Jeff Ward took the win.
Justin Jones, son of Gary Jones, won the 250 Intermediate class on a YZ250 two-stroke that he borrowed from Jon Rice, grandson of the great John R of 1960’s fame. The Intermediates were in the second gate behind the Pro class and had to endured the same 30-minute motos. Justin seemed to get better with each lap.
In the Over-50 Expert class, four-time 250 National Motocross Champion Gary Jones won the first moto, but had issues in moto two. The overall victory went to Greg Nelson (4-1) with Randy Skinner (2-3), Mike “Monty D” Monaghan (5-3) third, Dennis Boulware (3-5) fourth, Tim Murphy (8-2) fifth, Gary Jones (1-11) sixth, Greg Groom (7-6) seventh, George Kohler (6-7) eighth, John Perry (9-10) ninth and Marc Hall (11-9) tenth. Not so lucky was TM-mounted Pete Vetrano (10-15), Ken Ehlers (12-16) and Marc Crosby (13-8).
AMA Hall of Famer Lars Larsson got third in the Over-60 Expert class behind former AMA Mechanic of the Year Alan Olson and former Grand National Dirt Track Tom White.
The Over-60 Expert class at REM this week included three former World Vet Champions (Lars Larsson?2001 Over-60 Champion, Tom White?1990 Over-40 Champion and Alan Olson?nine-time World Vet Champion in the Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 classes). In addition to these three was former CMC and REM number One rider Jody Weisel and AMA Hall of Fame member Feets Minert?along with a group of former Saddleback racers like Ray Pisarski and Bill Seifert. In this week’s race Tom White won the first moto with Olson second, Pisarski third, Larsson fourth and Weisel fifth. Unfortunately for Tom White, he coughed his engine just as the gate dropped and before he could get it started again, the gate was lifted for the second wave. White had to jump the gate to catch up to the pack. Olson would go on to easily win the Over-60 Expert class, while White caught up to second place and made a late race pass on Swedish Trans-AMA racer Lars Larsson for second overall.
Seven-time AMA National Champion Jeff Ward brought the whole family out to race. Jeff won the Over-40 Expert class. Sons Ayrton and Alain were second in the 85 Expert and first in the 85 Novice classes.
Scott Bell, brother of former AMA Supercross Champion Mike Bell (who was at REM helping his sons Trevor in the 450 Novice class and Sean in the 85 Beginners), won the Over-50 Novice class…and appears to be fully recovered from his terrible car crash of a year ago. Craig Johnston (2-3) was second overall, Mitch Evans (5-2) third, Scott Mays (3-6) fourth and Pat Jeffreys (6-4) fifth).
Ray Pisarski is a former Saddleback specialist, who has been racing since the 1970s.
John Perry drove in from Colorado for the World Two-Stroke Championship, but raced REM on a Suzuki RM-Z450 also. Perry, who’s brother was the Yamaha team manager for several years, got ninth in the Over-50 Experts (perhaps the toughest class at REM) and second in the Over-30 class.
REM races again next Saturday at Glen Helen. The 30-minute motos for Pros (and selected Intermediate classes) will continue. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
Photos by Dan Alamangos