REM RACE REPORT: HAPPY NEW YEARS, CARNAGE ENSUES
Photos by Rich Stuelke, Dan Alamangos, Mark Chilson & Jody Weisel
As the old saying goes, “there is no rest for the weary.” The sport’s most active motocross organization, REM Motocross, just finished their 40-race 2015 series right before Christmas. They took the holiday weekend off and came right back to start their 2016 series on January 2. You would think that motocross racers would want to take a winter vacation before starting another 12-months of racing. Not so! In fact, many of the riders complained about REM not holding a race on December 26th. These men want to race—it’s what they live for.
The number of motocrossers at REM who have been racing for over 25 years is astounding. This weekend, 55% of the racers at Glen Helen were over the age of 40. The five biggest classes in size order were; (1) Over-50 Intermediates, (2) Over-50 Experts, (3) Over-60 Experts, (4) Over-50 Novices and (5) Over-40 Intermediates. The fastest growing class is the Over-60 group. The Over-60 Experts were the third largest class, but if you put the newly formed Over-65 Experts in with them they would have been the largest class by a big margin.
But there are still lots of young riders at REM and this week Gavin Leachman, Jett Reynolds, Ryder DiFancesco, Enzo Temmerman and Ryder Mcnabb were the headliners on the small bikes.
It all goes wrong quickly as Kendrick (873) realizes that he’s going too wide and suddenly cuts straight across the path of Shuler (33) and Eropkin (811). Shuler’s front wheel catches on Kendrick’s rear wheel and the bowling pins are set in motion. Photo: Rich Stuelke
C.T. Falk (63) has no where to go and collides directly into the fallen Shuler. C.T. saves himself by lifting his left leg over his handlebars to avoid being trapped by his bike. Joe Sutter (111), Dan Alamangos (67) and Marcus Hansson (3) take evasion actions. Photo: Rich Stuelke
As Dan Alamangos (67) goes down, Marcus Hansson (3) runs over Dan’s rear wheel and Joe Sutter (11) clears the path of destruction at the last instant. Falk (far right) immediately turns to help Ron Shuler. The race was red flagged and Ron Shuler was the only rider not to make the restart. Ron is okay, but rung his bell. Photo: Rich Stuelke
This week REM designed a new first turn. It looked like the perfect left-hand sweeper (very reminiscent of one-half of an AMA short-track). The racers swept into the corner and did an elliptical arc to go back the opposite direction. It may have looked benign, but very few classes made it through the first turn without some mayhem. The worst crash is shown in the sequence above—and this race was restarted. When the same group came back for their second moto, they had another big crash and another red flag restart. No one was seriously hurt, but Ron Shuler got the full treatment—knocked down, high-siding onto his head and run over. It was a crash he’ll remember for a long time—except that he can’t remember it. REM promoter Frank Thomason says that that start will never be used again.
The big winners this week were R.J. Wageman (450 Pro), Kristoffer Palm (250 Pro), Conner Mullenix (250 Intermediate), Marc Crosby (Over-50 Novice), Bob Rutten (Over-60 Expert), T.V. Holmes (Over-65 Expert), Gavin Leachman (85 Expert/125 Intermediate), Luther French (Over-50 Expert), Paul Fitz-Gibbon (Over-50 Intermediate), Gustav Johnasson (125 Novice) and Zach Randolph (450 Novice).
The motorcycle brand breakdown for this week’s races show some startling details. To no one’s surprise KTM continues to dominate the turn-out. Some of this could be due to REM’s older and richer demographic. KTMs represented 35% percent of the bikes at REM. Yamaha was second with 25% and Honda third at 20%. Suzuki was a shocker. It fell to only 6% of the riders at REM (largely because several high-profile Suzuki RM-Z450 riders led a mass exodus to KTM in the month of December). At 6% Suzuki barely edged out Husqvarna’s 5%. Equally shocking was the low Kawasaki showing. The green machines accounted for 8% of the bikes at Glen Helen, which looks good compared to Suzuki, but less than 2% of the big bike riders were on Kawasaki’s—the vast majority of Kawasaki’s numbers came from the minicycle classes.
Another Baja winner, albeit 40 years ago, Bob Rutten (83), swept both motos of the Over-60 Experts. In motocentric SoCal, racers never seem to retire. Classes for riders over 60 years old would have seemed like science fiction a few years ago, but at REM it is one of the largest groups. Rutten won the Baja 1000 in 1975 and 1976. Photo: Dan Alamangos
It was like homecoming week for former Baja 1000 winners at REM this week (well, every week actually). The newest Baja 1000 winner, Justin Jones was joined in the races this weekend by 2010 winner Jon Ortner, 1995-96 winner Paul Krause and 1975-76 winner Bob Rutten. It was also a coming together of most of REM’s Hollywood stuntmen—the complete group hasn’t been together at REM for a couple months as they have been working on big projects, but this week Mic Rodgers (Point Break 2, Lethal Weapon, Braveheart, The Rock and Roadhouse), Mark Donaldson (National Treasure, GI Joe, Pirates of the Caribbean and Fast and Furious 7), Pasha Afshar (Terminator 2, Three Kings, True Lies and Heat) and Bryan Friday (The Amazing Spiderman, Captain America 2, Banshee and CSI Miami) were all in attendance. Missing were John Alden (Clear and Present Danger, Air Force One, Star Trek Nemesis, Independence Day and Men In Black II) and Will Harper (who is in Atlanta working of Guardians of the Galaxy 2). If you liked to read more about these stuntmen, their movies and their racing click here—www.motocrossactionmag.com/features/the-hollywood-stuntmen-of-rem.
Say what? Another Baja winner and ISDE medalist, Paul Krause (9), leads Phil Dowell (23) in the Over-50 Expert class. Krause went 3-2 for second overall in front of Dowell’s 2-3. Luther French took the 1-1 win. Paul Krause won the Baja 1000 in 1995 and 1996. Photo: Jody Weisel
Ian Fitz-Gibbon (21) led Jon Ortner (10) for 80 percent of the laps in the two motos of the Over-50 Elite class. But, Ian didn’t lead the one that counted the most. Jon Ortner is also a Baja 1000 winner. He won in 2010. Photo: Jody Weisel
For 2016 REM addressed the growing Over-60 population, by splitting the Over-60 Experts into Over-60 and Over-65 divisions. Here, Jody Weisel (52) and T.V. Holmes (510) battle for the Over-65 Expert overall. In the end, it was Holmes first, Weisel second and Dave Rabjohn third. Photo: Dan Alamangos
Ken Ehlers (103), Tom White (80) and Joe Pena (911) fan out across the track. White won the first moto of the Over-65 Experts, but felt the ill effects of a crash two weeks ago and elected not to race the second moto. Photo: Dan Alamangos
Ralf Schmidt won the Over-40 Expert class on a 2016 TM 144MX. Ralf in the U.S. importer. He is also the Dutch importer. No word on if he will get the Tahiti franchise. Interested in a TM two-stroke? Go to www.tmracing-usa.com. Photo: Dan Alamangos
One more look. Here is a ground level sequence of the big first turn crash. Different angle, same outcome. Ron Shuler (33), C.T. Falk (63) and Dan Alamangos (67) get some first turn airtime. Photo: Mark Chilson
REM does not race next Saturday, January 9, to allow its racers to go to the Anaheim Supercross. It returns on Saturday, January 16, for a seven-straight race run through January and February. For more info on REM Motocross go to www.remsatmx.com