REM “UN-RACE THREE-POINT-OH:” WHEN THE CATS AWAY
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Photos by Randel Fout & Dan Alamangos
Travis Preston, 2002 AMA 250 Supercross East Champion and 2013-14 World Vet Champion, spent time on a wide variety of bikes during his day at the “Un-race.” Here, Travis tests some mapping changes on MXA’ 2018 YZ450F.
No motocross racers anywhere in the world race as often as SoCal’s REM regulars. They start their yearly motocross season the first week of January and race straight through until Christmas. All told, there are as many as 40 REM races a year. There are, however, breaks in the REM schedule for the AMA National, WORCS series, 24 Hours of Glen Helen, Tough Mudder, Day in the Dirt, World Vet Championship, Last Dog Standing, King of the Hammers and Lucas Offroad Truck Championship, but REM racers started their 2017 racing season on January 8 and will end it on December 30, 2017. That is a lot of racing!
When Tom White was diagnosed with cancer it was right after he bought a brand-new KTM 450SXF Factory Edition. It has sat in his museum for months waiting for the day that he felt good enough to ride it. Saturday was the day, as former AMA Mechanic of the Year and 9-time World Vet Champion Alan Olson (left), brought Tom out to ride his new bike.
It is so much racing that it is hard to imagine that for most REM Motocross racers, it’s not enough. It isn’t! They want to show up at Glen Helen, hang out with their friends, hammer out laps, tell lies and go to lunch together all 50 weekends of the year. On the occasional weekends when REM doesn’t have a race scheduled, especially in times when REM is taking two weeks off in a row, an “Un-Race” pops up. REM’s schedule did not include this weekend (July 29) or next weekend (August 5). Thus, while promoters Frank and Myra Thomason were away, the mice came out to play.
What is an “Un-Race?” It’s really just a practice day, but more of a secret practice days. There is no race, no sign up, no organization and no rhyme or reason. Even stranger, no one knows when an “Un-Race” will occur. Think about it, to make an “Un-Race” happen you need Glen Helen to agree to let the group have the REM track, not just that, but to rip it and prep it. An “Un-Race” relies on MXA’s Jody Weisel to get the closed REM track opened up and prepped. Luckily, since Jody has designed Glen Helen’s AMA National and USGP tracks for two decades, all he has to do is make a call to open the gates to the REM track.
Remember where we said that an “Un-Race” is a secret practice, that is not 100% true. It starts with a small handful of interested riders, typically MXA test riders, asking Jody to call Glen Helen general manager Lori Wilson and get her to have Glen Helen track worker John Allen prep the track on Friday night and Saturday morning (this week there was a Lucas Oil Truck Race at Glen Helen on Saturday night, so we were asking equipment operator John Allen to take on a lot of extra work). At this point, only a few guys know that the track will be prepped on Saturday morning. The rest of the SoCal motocross world is left out of the loop. Each of the handful of riders calls an REM friend or two, who call another REM friend. The circle is small, and if it works perfectly about 25 REM racers show up—this week it worked a little too well and it grew to about 75 riders. Why so many? Some of them heard about the “Un-Race” because of a minor blurb that mentioned the “Un-Race” in an Yamaha article on the MXA website. That blurb started the jungle drums beating.
Getting access to the empty REM track (normally Glen Helen’s front track is prepped and used for practice on Saturdays), and having the track crew take on the added work of getting the REM track ready to use is a big deal. Part of that deal is having the REM guys agree to water the parts of the track that can’t be reached by the water truck. So, even though they came to ride, they have to work on-and-off during the day if they want the track to be as good as possible. At this week’s “Un-Race,” the riders pitched in to get it done with Robert Pocius, Randy Skinner, Marc Crosby, Josh Fout, Dan Alamangos, Jody Weisel and others tugging fire hoses around to make the dirt primo.
Randel Fout (61) was assigned by his MXA teammates to get these 2018 Showa TAC air forks dialed in, which he did thanks to the jam-packed notebook that he keeps on every setting and mod made to the MXA test bikes. Here, Randel tries out his 2018 KX450F settings.
From the moment that the track is considered ready to ride on, the racers who managed to get in the loop, can ride all the want. “Un-Races” are at their best when there are about 15 riders, and a little harder to control when there are 70. The last “Un-Race” was so silently arranged that only six riders showed up—but no matter how many or how few, they all know each other, race with each other every week and want to ride. What follows are photos of some of the Un-Racers.
Tim Olson, former MXA test rider (plus, Yamaha and Suzuki Public Relations manager) came to the “Un-Race” to ride and consult on MXA’s 2018 test bikes, but also to spend time teaching his son Aiden to ride in a large flat area.
Jody Weisel on MXA’s 2018 KTM 350SXF. “Un-Race 3.0” was only the third “Un-Race” of 2016, although in truth it was the fourth (but one of the “Un-Races” was so secret that only six people showed up — and one of them showed up because he thought REM was racing that day).