REM MOTOCROSS RACE REPORT: THE OLD GANG’S BACK TOGETHER AGAIN… BANGIN’ BARS
With 30 riders over the age of 60 at REM this weekend the racing was hot and heavy. Here, eventual Over-60 Expert winner Robert Reisinger (96) leads Dave Eropkin (far left), Will Harper (7), Steve Williams (815) and Val Tamietti (31) over the first rise. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
PHOTOS BY DAN ALAMANGOS, DEBBI TAMIETTI & JON ORTNER
When California went on lock-down no one expected it to last this long, or for the governor to be threatening to shut it down again. When the race tracks had to lock their gates, with an help of the Benedict Arnold of motocross promoters snitching on any track that had people riding at it, it was assumed that racing at the world, national and local level would resume in a month of so. It has been four months since the weekly REM motocross races were shut down back in early March—finally this Saturday, July 25, they started back up.
With new social distancing, sign-up and race procedure rules, no one knew who would show up, but all of the hardcore regulars dug themselves out of the bunkers they had been hiding in to start racing again. It was, for the locals, a glorious day. Everyone was happy to be back in the saddle again. They got to see their old friends and go to the starting line together to do what they love.
Motocross looks so easy from behind the fences, but up close it is a battlefield. 450 Pro winner Colton Aeck has something waiting ahead of him—dirt, rocks and flying debris that he will hit at full speed…or is it the other way around. Photo: Jon Ortner
And, the ring rust was evident, but most of the REM riders had been riding at local practice tracks or taking advantage of Glen Helen’s Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday practice days during the later part of the shutdown. It was evident who had put on a few pounds while sitting on the couch and who had sharpened their skills by breaking bad habits learned over years of racing.
REM continues to be the place to race for older riders. The starting gates were packed with riders over the age of 50, 60 and even 70. There were 30 riders over the age of 60 on the starting lines. The two biggest single classes were the Over-50 Experts and Over-60 Experts—and in light of the increased speed of each of the older classes, REM added Novices classes to the Over-60 ranks (they never needed Novices classes in the past because any rider over 60-years-old had been riding since the 1970s and wouldn’t fit into the Novice classification). But with the influx of riders who are taking up the sport later in life, REM decided to give them a chance to compete against riders of the same skill level.
Glen Helen was packed to the gills this Saturday with REM up on the hillside track, the Over-the-Hill-Gang having a two-day national of the front track and a Lucas Oil Off-Road Truck Championship race on the truck track. There were so many trucks, buggies and mini-karts that they took up 2/3rds of the pits and camping spaces at Glen Helen. The motorcycle racers had to squeeze into the remaining spots like sardines.
MXA test rider Josh Fout would play a big role in the most dramatic moment of the day. Note the very steep hill behind Josh and MXA’s 2021 Kawasaki KX450. In the next photo that hill will play a prominent role. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
With 2021 new bike season fast approaching, MXA brought out all of its endurance test riders to race—with our 2021 test bikes being put through their paces in virtually every skill level. And, as you will see in the photo below, being tested for their ability of take a beating (along with the test rider). Both survived albeit a little worse for wear.
Check out the photos of all the action and join us next Saturday—maybe it will be your photos that are being ogled in Tokyo, Stockholm, Berlin and Swinney Switch, Texas. See you there!
That is Josh Fout sprawled out on the downhill. He lost the front end in the tight rutted hairpin corner at the top of the hill and cartwheeled half way down the hill, with the brand-new Kawasaki KX450 doing the same cartwheels behind him. Eventually, they came together. Robert Pocius grabbed a flag and ran out to protect Josh, while Darwyn Yager threw his bike down at the bottom of the hill and climbed up to help Josh. Photo: Jon Ortner
That old gang of mine. The last REM motocross race was way back on March 7—then Covid-19 hit. Although they have been riding the whole time, they haven’t been racing—now that REM is back they are all together again. (From left to right) Mike Monaghan, Will Harper, Randy Skinner, Jody Weisel, Randel Fout, Mark Hall, Ernie Becker, Val Tamietti, Lars Larsson, Luc DeLey, Dan Alamangos, Marc Crosby and Josh Fout. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Mark Hall (56) works for Western Power Sports, but drove down from Boise, Idaho, to race at the return of REM at Glen Helen on MXA’s 2021 Yamaha YZ450F. He even got a holeshot photo. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Holland’s Ralf Schmidt (73) won the Over-40 Expert class on a TM. After all, Ralf is both the Dutch and American TM importer. Ralf had better hustle over to the finish line, because the next moto has already sidled up to the starting gate in the background. Photo: Dan Alamangos
Lars Larsson (192) has been an MXA test rider since the 1970s, but normally spends his winters in SoCal and his summers back home in Sweden, but when Sweden locked-down its borders during the pandemic Lars wife, who is an American citizen, wasn’t allowed to enter Sweden. So, Lars has been in the USA ever since he first flew in to race the World Vet Championship back in October of 2019. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Mark Hall hasn’t raced since last July, partly because of work and partly because those Idaho winters are a little tough. So, he enjoyed the 94-degrees and sunshine of his old stomping ground. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Will Harper (7) and Steven Chandler (306) had different outcomes in the large Over-60 Expert class with Will going 3-2 for second behind Robert Reisinger, while Steven (13-12) was sandwiched between Dirt Bike’s Ron Lawson (7-15) and Scalvini’s Pete Vetrano (14-13). Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Of all the rivalries in motocross, the one between Lars Larsson and Jody Weisel has been going on the longest. Jody was assigned to race MXA’s 2021 Husqvarna FC450 so he graciously gave Lars his #192 KTM 350SXF to ride. Jody won both motos over Lars, but that isn’t normally the outcome of the friendly rivalry between the two racers who both started racing in the 1960s. Photo: Dan Alamangos
Like a lot of racers during the Covid-19 beak Mike Monaghan (36) started riding a 125 two-stroke for fun. He was fast on it, but as a previous winner of the Over-50 Expert class, a 6-10 proved to him that perhaps he should go back to his regular race bike—which is a YZ20 two-stroke. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
STI Tires’ Craig Peterson won the 125 two-stroke class on his KTM 150SX, and even raced it in the Over-50 Intermediate class where he went 5-6. On Craig’s right is Mike Davis (202), brother of former Pro Eddie Davis. Mike hasn’t raced in 10 years and went 2-1 for the Over-50 Intermediate win. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Jon Ortner had time to style for awhile on his way to the Over-50 Elite victory. Over-50 Elite is reserved for former Pro riders who are too fast for the regular Over-50 Expert class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Val Tamietti (31) chases Steve Williams (815) in the Over-60 Expert class. They split 5-4 and 4-5 moto scores with Williams getting fourth overall and Val fifth. Val came back to race the Over-50 Experts also and had a 4th in one moto. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
There was a traffic jam on the Glen Helen Parkway at noon. Here, James DeRidder (101) takes the outside line, Jody Weisel (58) takes the inside and Lars Larsson is just around the bend. Meanwhile, behind them we see Phil Cruz (95) and Mark Hall going the opposite direction. Photo: Jon Ortner
Retired Los Angeles and Chicago Police Chief Charlie Beck is glad that he’s now a full-time motocross racer instead of trying to unravel the mess in the streets of America. Charlie was 4th in the Over-65 Expert class. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
REM has a whole new sign-up procedure in the wake of the pandemic. It includes pre-entering on the REM website, having your own transponder and holding the riders meeting over the loudspeaker (as demonstrated here by REM’s Frank Thomason). Of course, masks are advised. You can learn more at www.remsatmx.com. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
NEXT REM RACE: SATURDAY, AUGUST 1, 2020
DO YOU RACE AT REM? WANT A PHOTO OF YOU IN ACTION? DEBBI HAS THEM
Give Debbi a day or two to process this week’s REM race photos to her SmugMug account and then browse to your hearts content. You can order digital photos of yourself or friends from her page—for as little a $1.50. To look at this week’s REM race (posted in a couple days) and Debbi’s favorites photos go to www.debbitamietti.smugmug.com