REM GLEN HELEN MOTOCROSS REPORT: SURVIVING WORLD WAR 450
Photos by Debbi Tamietti, Dan Alamangos and Jon Ortner
The REM motocross track is a hidden gem that is located above and behind the more famous Glen Helen National/Grand Prix track. It was one of SoCal’s original motocross tracks (back when the REM track was known as Arroyo Cycle Park). Arroyo lay unused for many years as a remote park of the massive Glen Helen facility. It was used as a catch-all track for ATV practice, vintage races and even Red Bull X-Fighters, but when the REM promoters moved up from Carlsbad Raceway, they built it into an amazing motocross facility.
It has an incredible Vet following, which it caters to classes from 30 to 65 years old. But it has one other clientele that is famous all over the globe. It is the place that foreign riders, riders on vacation and visiting moto tourists want to race at. This week there were racers from Sweden, Norway, Australia, England, Holland, South Africa, Japan and Germany.
This January and February have been the rainiest in decades. Unfortunately, lots of races have been canceled because of flooding, but on the good side, the rain washed sand down off the hills onto REM’s back straight. Here, John Huegel eats a large portion of decomposed granite.
Take a look at this Saturday’s REM motocross. It was jam-packed with foreigners willing to challenge the REM track’s constantly climbing and falling terrain.
BREAKDOWN BY BIKE BRANDS IN PERCENTAGES (FEB. 23)
This week KTM jumped to the lead in the number of riders racing each brand at 38% (at the last race KTM and Yamaha were tied for the top spot). Yamaha is second with 26% of the racers on blue. The big surprise is that Husqvarna has surpassed Honda for third and that there were more TMs at REM this week than Kawasakis and Suzukis (combined).
Britain’s Kurt Nicoll was a four-time runner-up in the FIM’s 500 World Motocross Championships, now he runs a motocross vacation camp and races whenever he can. 53-year-old Kurt won the Vet Pro class, but ran near the front of the 450 Pro class.
Among the eight riders from Norway, Cornelius Toendel was the most successful, Toendel went 1-1 in the 250 Pro class. Cornelius didn’t have to look back to see his competition as he was running up front with the 450 pack.
FormerJapanese National Champion Toshiki Tomita raced the 2018 AMA 450 Nationals for Team Honda (finishing 14th overall) and has been on Japan’s Motocross des Nations team. At REM, Tomita was 9th in the first moto after some issues, but came back to win the second 450 Pro moto for 4th overall.
Swedish Grand Prix rider, multi-time ISDT Gold Medalist, AMA Hall of Famer and co-founder of Torsten Hallman Off-Road Products (THOR) Lars Larsson continues to amaze. At 78 years old he finished 5th in the Over-65 Intermediate class on MXA’s 2019 Yamaha YZ250X cross-country two-stroke.
Mark Oetzell (N23A) has a racing number that looks more like space coordinates than a motocross number, and a style that is more speedway than motocross, but he made it work. Mark went 2-3 for third in the Vet Novice class.
The imposing cliff behind this rider is all the more impressive when you realize that 10 seconds earlier this rider was at the top of this cliff before plunging downward and then turning back to the final jump to what is ground floor.
REM races again on March 9 and 16 at Glen Helen and March 23 at Cahulla Creek. For more info about REM motocross go to www.remsatmx.com.