REM GLEN HELEN RACE REPORT: SON OF A GUN
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Photos by Dan Alamangos, Mark Chilson, Rich Stuelke and Debbi Tamietti
Every group of motocross racers needs to track to call their own. In SoCal, this is made a harder by the fact that there are ten different tracks to choose from. But, for a large chunk of the hardcore motocross racers in Southern California, REM is their number one pick.
There are lots of reasons for this—not the least of which is that REM has a unique clientele. Here are some facts:
Ayrton Ward (797) went 2-2 for second overall in the 250 Intermediate class. Aryton’s dad is seven-time AMA National Champion Jeff Ward, who’s credits include an AMA 125 National Championship, two 250/450 National Championships, two 500 National Championships and two AMA Supercross Championships. Jeff was also a two-time NMA Race of Champions winner, AMA Supermoto Champion, Paris Supercross winner, seven-time winner of the MXDN and, as icing on the cake, Jeff finished second at the Indianapolis 500. Photo: Dan Alamangos
(1) It is down-home motocross that is very much like the sport was back in the good old days. There are very few rules, a casual atmosphere in the pits, an amazing number of racers who have history going back 10, 20, 30 or more years and a racetrack that is challenging without being a clone of a Supercross track.
(2) Glen Helen has two motocross track (it also has two Supercross tracks, a Lucas Oil Offroad Truck track, minicycle track and hundreds of acres for cross-country races). The REM track is isolated above the much more famous USGP/AMA racetrack, but it actually historic in its own right. The REM track is the old Arroyo Cycle Park track from 45 years ago. It was the site of the first-ever 125 National Championship event. The AMA did not have a 125 Championship, so in 1973 Arroyo held one. It was won by Ray Lopez on a Penton with Marty Smith second on a Monark.
Justin Jones went 1-5 in the 450 Pro class. He won the first moto with a flat rear tire, but when he suffered a flat front in the second moto he had to settle for 5th. Justin’s dad was a four-time 250 National Champion, who was also the 1972 Inter-AMA Champion, seven-time World Vet Champion (in the Over-30, Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 classes) and Motocross des Nations team member in 1972. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
(3) Every week at REM is like holding an extra round of the World Vet Championships (instead of just one in November). At this week’s REM races there were 10 riders who finished in the top ten of their classes at the 2016 World Vet Championships.
NOT THE SONS OF GUNS — BUT INDUSTRY GUYS
Mark Hall (36) has recovered from the hip injury that kept him sidelined for most of 2016. Mark went 8-7 in the Over-50 Intermediate class. Mark works at Pro Circuit, but has also worked for MTA Distributing, VP Fuels and the White Brothers. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
(4) An amazing 55% of the racers at REM this weekend were over the age of 50 (and 35% of those riders were on KTMs). Overall (in all the classes), 42% of the riders were on KTMs, 28% on Yamahas, 11% on Hondas, 9% on Suzukis, 8% on Huskys and 4% on Kawasakis.
(5) 20 percent of the racers at REM work in the SoCal’s motorcycle industry. They come from the personnel ranks of the motorcycle companies, aftermarket businesses, suspension tuners, distributors, importers and hop-up shops. If you have a problem with your bike at REM, there is always someone there who can fix it or point you to some else who can.
(6) REM has been holding races for 30 years (first at Carlsbad and then Glen Helen), they know everyone on a first-name basis. And while the scorekeepers are friendly, they don’t suffer fools easily. Most REM riders try to toe the straight line — on and off the track. At least if they want to keep racing at Glen Helen.
(7) The best thing about REM is that they don’t dawdle around. They fill the gates, and start every race with two waves. Even though the motos are long, they get done with the race program by 2:00 p.m. every Saturday. They know that their racers want to get home and work on their bikes for the next day, or maybe spend some quality weekend time with their families. REM moves fast, but doesn’t cut laps.
Tom White owned White Brothers Cycle Specialties before selling it. He is busier in his retirement than he was when he ran the giant corporation. Tom works with the AMA, announces race events, does charity work, writes two columns for MXA and runs his “Early Years of Motocross Museum.” Tom’s 3-1 on a 2017-1/2 KTM Factory Edition gave him the win in the Over-65 Expert class. Photo: Dan Alamangos
(8) REM has a strong following with foreign riders and its not unusual to find the gates filled with Swedes, Australians or Brits during their vacation time. It is also where lots of factory riders come after healing up from an injury to get a tuned up before heading back to the Supercross or National series. This week there were racers from Sweden, Australia, South Africa, England and Holland on the starting lines.
Four-time 250 National Champion Gary Jones won the first moto of the Over-65 Expert class, but got involved in a crash in the moto two. His 1-4 left him third overall on Dirt Bike’s Husqvarna FE450. Gary works at Hinson clutches. Photo: Dan Alamangos
THE RACES & RACERS
(9) You probably have a bigger chance of having your photo run at REM than any other track in SoCal. Why? Photographers Dan Alamangos, Mark Chilson, Rich Stuelke and Debbi Tamietti love to shoot photos, and when they aren’t shooting (because their race is on the track), they aren’t afraid to hand their camera to a friend (with 2 minutes of instructions) and have them shoot additional photos. MXA’s website gets 50,000 page views a day—so having your photo in this race report is seen world-wide.
The battle for the Over-60 Expert trophy came down to a duel between former Baja 500/1000 hero Bob Rutten (83) and former CMC number one Val Tamietti (31). Val’s 2-1 took the prize over Rutten’s 1-3. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
(10) The next time you get the itch to race—without spending 14 hours at the track waiting for the 85 Novice class (division 2) to get done, think about coming to REM. They don’t race every Saturday of the year, but historically have gotten in between 30 to 40 races every year for the last 30 years.
Mike Monaghan (64) had a 4-5 day on a KTM 250SX two-stroke in the Over-50 Experts. After the race he went to the hospital to see popular REM racer Brian Martin, who was hurt in a practice crash during the week. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
MXA’s test program is the most massive in the biz. The 11 bikes that MXA ran at REM this weekend are pictured here as they wait for the day’s activities to start. Meanwhile, the MXA wrecking crew was split up, as several riders were racing in 29 Palms on the same day. Photo: Rich Stuelke
This is a part of the REM racetrack that most people never see. It is hidden behind the big hills. Here, Brian Calhoun (712) prepares to wind his way back to REM’s stadium section. Photo: Dan Alamangos
REM races again at Glen Helen next Saturday, March 18. For more information go to www.remsatmx.com