REM GLEN HELEN MOTOCROSS REPORT: AT THE PENULTIMATE ROUND A TWO-STROKE WINS THE PRO CLASS & THE POINTS CHASE NARROWS DOWN TO TWO RIDERS
Not necessarily hill-and-dale, the REM track is more like hill-and-canyon as the riders are constantly going up-and-over or down-and-around the natural terrain of the old Arroyo Cycle Park track. History buffs will remember that Arroyo was where the first 125 National Championship was held (before the AMA cared about 125s).
It is almost over?not just 2011, but the longest points paying motocross series in the sport. After 12 months and 40 races, the REM motocross series has wound down to one final motocross race on New Year’s Eve morning. This week’s race was the penultimate round?and proved to be as interesting as the other 38 races had been.
MXA’s Billy Musgrave not only won the 250 Pro class on a KTM 250SX two-stroke, but he caught and passed all of the 450 Pros in the process. It was a long hard chase and he made the last pass on former AMA National rider TonyAmaradio on the last lap of each moto. Witness here that the light and agile two-stroke could go places that the four-strokes couldn’t get to.
Two-stroke win: MXA test rider Billy Musgrave has always been a two-stroke racer. As a 250 Novice and 250 Intermediate, he stuck with the trusty YZ125, KTM 125SX and KTM 150SX while all of his buddies went the four-stroke route. When Billy turned Pro this year, he struggled against 250F Pros on the small-bore two-strokes, but then bad luck became good luck. The bad luck was when his dad, Willy Musgrave,broke his collarbone three weeks ago in the middle of an MXA project bike test. Billy inherited the test project and moved from a KTM 125SX to a KTM 250SX that was a virtual rocketship (and had Showa works suspension and a space-age carb mod that worked like a supercharger). That was all Billy needed. This week, Billy not only took the 250 Pro win, but ran down the 450 Pros that had started on the same gate to take the overall victory. The question? What happens when Willy’s collarbone heals up?
For old school motocross fans, you would expect that a Swedish rider named Palm would remember 1970’s Grand Prix and Trans-AMA racer Uno Palm, but when ask if he was related to Uno, 450 Intermediate and Swede Kristoffer Palm said that he’d never heard of him.
The future old guys duel for supremacy: In the 250 Beginner class Michael Sorenson and Matt Bynum traded moto wins and second places?with Sorenson’s second moto victory securing the win. Joe Valencia was back at REM after a being gone for a couple months and went 3-3 in front of Geremy Patterson (who’s dad Geoff Patterson won the 450 Beginner class) and Billy Nagy.
Airshow pilot and factory Sbach 342 pilot Doug Jardine won the Over-50 Novice class, while son Joe was the 65cc winner. Doug races when his national air show schedule doesn’t interfere (if you attended the Glen Helen AMA National or USGP, you’ve seen him fly). He flew two weeks ago in the Acapulco Air Show and plans to compete for the World Aerobatic Championship next year.
Father and son days: The best thing about motocross is that fathers and sons can share it?and at REM that means racing together. Fred Nichols decided to pass up his regular class so that he and son Tyler could race together. They signed up in one of REM’s “Open” classes. The Open classes are setup so that riders can race a second class if they want to. Fred and Tyler had a great time racing on the same track at the same time. Other father son duos at REM this week (although not in the same class like the Nichols) were Paul Krause and son Brandon, Doug Jardine and son Joe, Geoff Patterson and son Geremy, Bill Seifert and son Billy, and Brian Pappalardo and son Brad.
Randel Fout (52) raced two classes at REM…almost. Randell won the first moto of the 125cc Adult “A” class on a KTM 150SX and the first moto of the Over-50 Expert class (on the same 150SX). Unfortunately, Randell crashed out of the second moto of the two-stroke class and decided not to race the second moto of the Over-50 Experts.
Two moto wins and nothing to show for it: Imagine that you won two motos, but didn’t win anything. Randel Fout knows how that feels. He won the first moto of REM’s unique 125cc Adult “A” class and then went straight back to the starting line and won the first moto of the Over-50 Experts on the same bike. Unfortunately, in the second moto of the 125 Adult “A” class, open to riders over the age of 21, Fout crashed in the fast sweeper just past the finish line. That was the end of his day. Randel was too beat up to make it to the starting line for the second Over-50 moto. Dan Alamangos would win the 125 Adult “A” class with a 3-1 in front of Dirt Bike editor Ron Lawson (2-2) and his brother Chris Alamangos (5-3).
Former Grand Prix racer Rob Andrews (62) was on vacation in SoCal from his home in England, when he decided to race his first race since retiring from the GP circuit 20 years ago. Rob borrowed a KTM 350SXF, boots, helmet and gear and showed that he still knows how to race. It was the first time he had ever raced a four-stroke.
Brit in SoCal: Former top ten 500 Grand Prix racer Rob Andrews came to SoCal on vacation and for some reason, after not racing since retiring back in 1990, Andrews decided to race again (in a foreign country on a track he’d never ridden before on his first-ever race on four-stroke). Rob borrowed a KTM 350SXF and soon found himself in the midst of a heated battle, both with the competition and “ring rust.” In the end, Rob acquitted himself well, had a great time?maybe not as great as 1986 when he finished ninth overall in the 500 World Championships.
As always the Over-50 Expert class was a dog fight. Dave Eropkin (811) went 3-2 for second behind Jon Ortner (2-1). Here, Eropkin passes Mitch Evans (4) in pursuit to Ortner.
Magnificent old men on their flying machines: Youth has its benefits, but in motocross getting older opens up the sport’s possibilities. Older riders have the money to pursue the sport, they can afford new bikes, their families are grown and their houses paid for…and they love motocross because that is what they did when they were young. No where is this more evident than in REM’s Over-50 Expert class. It is typically the biggest class every week?although this week the Over-50 Intermediates (made up of Over-50 Expert escapees) and the Over-60 Experts (made up of AMA Hall of Famers and guys born in a decade that had a “40” in it) were the same size as the Over-50 Experts. Jon Ortner won the Over-50 Expert class with a 2-1 over a top five of Dave Eropkin, Dennis Boulware, David Blunk and Willie Amaradio.
Australian Dan Alamangos managed to win the 125 Adult “A” class even though he scraped up both elbows bad enough that he had to drop out of the second moto of his Over-40 Intermediate class. Ask how, he could road rash both elbows, Dan said, “There were two motos.”
This is fourth, fifth, first and second early in first moto of the Over-50 Experts. Dennis Boulware (44) would eventually go 4-3 for third overall, Willie Amaradio (130) had a 5-7 day for fifth, Randel Fout (52) went 1- DNF, while John Ortner (11x) would take the overall victory with a 2-1.
The secret points chase: REM keeps points at every race in every class from the first race in January to the last race on December 31. In the final third of the season REM didn’t announce the points standings (in an effort to cut down on craziness over collecting points). Under the rules, you can only earn points on a by-class basis, which means that you can’t add points from the 450 Intermediates and the 250 Intermediates?only the points earned in one class count. If there aren’t enough riders in your class (at least six), the riders in that class get half points. The final races of every month and of the year, pay double points (40 to win instead of 20). With 40 races in the REM season, the mathematical permutations are immense?but statistics prove that riders who race in big classes and race unfailingly through flu season, minor injuries and the wrath of the wife earn the most points. History proves this out?in the 22 years since points have been kept for the number one plate (although no REM rider has ever elected to run the number 1 on their bike the following season), only one young rider has ever earned the most points (that was a 15-year old Billy Musgrave back in 2004).
Former Grand National dirt tracker, AMA Hall of Fame motocross chairman, museum owner and former White Bros. Tom White splits his time between racing and announcing at REM.
Statistics don’t lie: When the point standings were finally revealed with four races to go, former AMA Grand National dirt track racer turned motocrosser Tom White was trailing MXA test rider Ray Pisarski by 32 points. Since both White and Pisarski are Over-60 Experts, they race against each other every week. Mathematically if Tom White could the remaining four races and Pisarski had at least one bad race, Tom could win. Tom tried his hardest, but so did Ray. In the first of the four races, Tom beat Ray, but the were second and third, so the points gain was minimal. The second of the four races, Tom won the overall, and Ray crashed…but got up to take third overall. Tom was still 28 points behind Ray with two races to go. This week at the penultimate round of the 40-race series, Tom showed up injured. He tried to ride, but finished back in eighth place (Ray settled for third behind Lyle Sweeter and Tom Holmes). With the final race on December 31 paying double points (40 points to the winner), Ray Pisarski now has a 38-point lead over Tom White. Ray will win the 2011 REM Glen Helen number one plate?unless he can’t make it to the starting gate in two weeks?even then, Tom still has to win.
After 40 long races former Saddleback racer Ray Pisarski is on the verge of winning Glen Helen’s number 1 plate for 2011. The final race of the year, on December 31, pays double points which means that there is a mathematical chance that Pisarski could still be beaten. He just has to finish to win.
REM races again on Saturday, December 31, 2011, for the “New Year’s Eve Morning Motocross.” Amazingly, the 2012 season starts seven days later. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
Photos: Dan & Chris Alamangos