REM “UN-RACE VII” REPORT: NEVER LEAVE YOUR TRACK UNATTENDED
U.S. TM importer Ralf Schmidt brought out two 2018 TM’s for MXA to start the test process. While Daryl Ecklund shot the action photos of the TM MX125 and TM MX450 (before heading the Red Bull Straight Rhythm), Ralf powered out some laps on his personal TM two-stroke.
REM promoters Frank and Myra Thomason took two weekend off from running the REM motocross races and went to Hawaii on a long overdue vacation. It seems like a lovely and romantic idea, but when Frank and Myra don’t hold an REM race it stir sup the natives. The locals get restless. And the jungle drums start pounding out a message. They say, “MXA will prep and water the REM track for any REM racer who wants to come to Glen Helen and ride.” You wouldn’t think that the MXA guys would be so generous—especially since dragging fire hoses up and down hills is not the least bit enjoyable. But MXA has an ulterior motive.
MXA wants to test bikes and products away from the maddening crowd, but if you’ve ever been to a ripped and watered track with only eight riders, you know that it turns into a racetrack with a single one-foot-wide line around it. Thus, for MXA to get a track that they can do uninterupted laps on, the need at least 30 riders to break up the dirt clods, spread out the lines and soak up the water. So, the day before, MXA sends out an email to a select few REM racers telling them that an “Un-Race” will be held on the REM track (and that MXA will provide the manpower to keep it watered). MXA’s goal is simple, they want just enough riders to show up to serve as clod-busters, but not so many that the track is packed nose-to-tail with riders.
There have been giant “Un-Races” with way too many riders at them. But, the perfect number is 40—and by hook or crook, it is possible to keep the numbers at the right quantity. Because the Santa Ana winds and heat were returning to Southern California, the winds at Glen Helen on the day of “Un-Race VII” were fairly strong. Thus, the track was shortened so that it would be easier to keep wet. There were riders breaking in new bikes, bringing friends out to try their first motocross track, lots of REM regulars (who are almost psychic at guessing when “Un-Races” will be held —made easier by the fact that they are only held on weekends when REM is taking two or more weekend off in a row). However, this week was only the 7th “Un-Race” in the last 12 months—so guessing isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Most of the MXA gang focused on doing more 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 testing before MXA’s 450 Shootout. The MXA shootout will not come out in the magazine until late November because we don’t want to do a shootout in three days, or one afternoon, like most of the current shootouts that are out now. So, the Suzuki was getting a full work-up at Glen Helen by Randel Fout (left), Jody Weisel (center) and Brian Muscutt (right).
The cool thing about the REM “Un-Races” is that everybody knows everyone. They get a prepped track, no crowds, time to test new parts, play race with their next door neighbor, teach their kid some racing strategy or just come out to spin some laps. Plus, the REM National track is prepped and watered—and open to the REM racers at the same time. It wouldn’t happen without the help of Glen Helen. They provide the track—all MXA agrees to do is keep it watered (hard to do on a windy day). It also wouldn’t happen if Frank and Myra Thomason would stay where they belong—holding REM races every weekend. Okay, maybe a romantic vacation every couple years would be okay.
What were we testing on our 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450? Three different sets of suspension—including the stock Showa fork and BFRC shock, Pro Circuit-modified suspension and WP Cone Valve forks and Traxx shock.
This year. Mechanix Wear’s John Caper wants to get a head start on his Mammoth Mountain prep. He thinks that starting in October of 2017 will be barely enough saddle time for the June 2018 race. Actually, John just had his 2016 CRF450 transmission fixed under the Honda recall of all 2015 and 2016 CRF450s and came to Un-Race VII to try it out—before selling it and buying a 2018 model.
Pasha Afshar somehow managed to sneak into the Un-Race even though the email that was sent to the REM racers announcing the Un-Race (just 24 hours before it was to be held) specifically said, “Don’t tell Pasha.” It is obvious that we have a stool pigeon in our ranks (and it’s probably Jon Ortner). Actually, the Un-Races are open to anyone who shows up. Pasha is a generous benefactor to a large group of Pro riders and is an unsung hero of the sport. He is more than welcome any time.
Lars Larsson flew in from Sweden the day before Un-Race VII—where Lars conducted his own personal 450 Shootout by riding every 2018 450 before deciding what bike he wanted to race at the World Vet Championship in two weeks. Lars, a three-time World Vet Champion and AMA Hall of Famer, made his choice and will race it for the first time at this weekends REM Octobercross World Vet warm-up race. Jody gives Lars first priority on bike choice because Lars was actually an MXA test rider before Jody was. Age before beauty.
Lars brought his son Lars-Erik with him. Lars-Erik was an up-and-coming Pro back in the day before life got in the way. This was Lars-Erik’s first ride in four years and he joked that he had to buy new pants the day before the Un-Race cause he went up a size since the last time he rode.
Every three months 6D helmets holds a drawing at REM for a free 6D helmet. The catch? You cannot have missed a single race during that three-month period to be eligible for the drawing. At the last REM race “Dentist to the Stars” Marc Crosby won the helmet, but in classic fashion Marc forgot that he won it until a week later when Randy Skinner called him and ask what helmet he chose. Amazingly, 6D founder Bob Weber delivered the helmet to Mark’s dental office that same day (and had dental work done while he was there).
One month ago Randy Skinner went to his shop to load up his box van for an REM race only to discover that he had locked the keys inside. He had to come to the races in his ratty, but unlocked, mini pickup truck. Flash forward, Randy help the MXA guys bring a couple bikes to “Un-Race VII” for testing (we bring 8 bikes with us every weekend). At the end of the day, as everyone loaded up the bikes, Randy discovered that the keys to the box van were locked inside. Luckily, he had a spare set of keys in a Hide-a-Key. Unfortunately, the Hide-A-Key was sitting on his desk in his shop.
If you raced 125s in the 1970s, then you saw Dave Eropkin race. Back in the day, a SoCal Pro could race as many as five days (and nights) a week. There was lots of money to be made, which is why a lot of California Pros never went on the AMA National circuit (it would cost them money to leave SoCal and race for the pitiful AMA purse). Today, Dave is in the Over-50 Elite class and just doing it for fun.
REM’S OCTOBERCROSS IS NEXT WEEKEND ON THE WORLD VET TRACK
For more info about REM go to www.remsatmx.com.
2017 DUBYA USA WORLD VET MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP ON NOV. 4-5
For more info about the World Vet, go to www.glenhelen.com.
Photos by Dan Alamangos—except the photo of Dan Alamangos. Click on images to enlarge.