Greg Groom (12), Jim Masters (439), Greg Iorio (127), Mark Hall (56), Jack Ryan (99) and Pete Vetrano (37) fan out across the Talladega first turn.
The fans expected lots of former National Champions and Hall of Famers to show up at the annual REM Octobercross – after all, it is held only a few days before the MTA World Vet Championship. Additionally, lots of out-of-state and foreign riders also came to town a week early to try to learn the tricky ups and downs of the rough Glen Helen circuit. But, no one expected future stars Adam Cianciarulo, Justin Hoeft, Matt Bisceglia, R.J. Wageman, Trent Pugmire and Dylan Merriman to play such a big role in the day’s activities.
Trent Pugmire (995), John Basher (52) and James McDaniels (792) work their way through Glen Helen's undulations.
There were riders from Canada, Kuwait, Mexico, South Africa, France and states as varied as Colorado, Iowa, Texas, Arizona and Oregon. The big name notables were four-time 250 National Champion Gary Jones, 1980 500 National Champion Chuck Sun, GP ace Kurt Nicoll, Former Pro Circuit rider Troy Lee, Canadian Julian Cerny, multi-time Baja winner Bob Rutten, AMA National rider Terry Fowler, 1971 Trans-AMA Support Class Champion Lars Larsson, Hollywood stuntman Mic Rodgers, Former Over-40 World Champion Pete Murray and MXA’s Jody Weisel, John Basher, John Minert and Dennis Stapleton.
Matt Bisceglia (6) was second overall in the 450 Pro class behind Trent Pugmire.
OVER-40 PRO: Brit Kurt Nicoll wants to win the Over-40 World Championship–mostly because he has come so close at the past World Vet Championships only to have the victory snatched away by mechanicals over the years. So, he came to the Octobercross to try to chase the bugs away. Nicoll’s 2-2 took the win because first moto winner Billy Joe Mercier finished third in moto two and Canadian Julian Cerney’s second moto victory was paired with a DNF in moto one. The top ten were Nicoll, Mercier, Terry Fowler, Willy Musgrave, Shawn Wynne, Justyn McCabe, Randel Fout, Don Biscelgia, Julian Cerny and Jon Rhodes.
Justin Hoeft signed a multi-year deal with the Troy Lee team for the future and won the 250 Intermediates.
OVER-50 EXPERT: Pete Murray lost to Jon Ortner last weekend at REM, but on the big USGP track Pete was too strong. Murray’s 1-1 beat Ortner’s 2-2, Steve Lawler’s 5-3, Bob Marino’s 6-4, Dave Eropkin’s 8-5, Chuck Sun’s 3-11, Bob Rutten’s 11-6, Greg Nelson’s 10-7 and John Atwood’s 9-9. Troy Lee had a fourth in moto one, but a DNF in moto two. Chuck Sun was a contender, but when filling his gas tank for the second moto the nozzle off his gas can fell into his KTM gas tank. He couldn’t fish it out in time, so he raced with it...and, as luck would have it, it blocked his fuel line momentarily in the Talladega first turn...dropping him to the back of the pack. He managed to work his way back up to 11th.
OVER-60 EXPERT: Former Team Yamaha, Honda and Can-Am factory rider Gary Jones swept both motos on a CRF250...which is a big disadvantage on a track with a fifth gear start, followed by a fifth gear straight, followed by two massive hills. Dave Eaku (2-2) was second, Lyle Sweeter (3-3) third, George Kohler (4-4) fourth, Mic Rodgers (5-5) fifth, Tom Holmes (6-6) sixth, but the major battle occurred between the three oldest guys on the track – former Swedish Grand Prix star Lars Larsson, 1984 CMC Number One Jody Weisel and Swede Bengt Johansson – for seventh place. Larsson, the first European motocross racer to move to America in the late ’60s, made an impossible pass on the last lap of the final moto (within 50 feet of the finish line) to pass Jody Weisel for the dubious honor of finishing seventh overall.
Offroad and desert ace Bob Rutten (83) leads AMA National and 1981 MXDN hero Chuck Sun (93).
VET PRO: Nobody knows where the Over 30-riders have disappeared to, but they are so rare in today’s racing scene that the World Vet Championships dropped the Over-35 classes at this year’s Championship...and will hold 30-to-39 year old classes only (to compensate for the small turnouts in that age group). At the Octobercross there were five times as many riders in the Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 class as in the Over-30 classes. No matter the number of riders, the racing was still intense as New England star Austin Squires won the Vet Pro class over Swede Lars-Erik Larsson. Squires would also finish eighth in the 450 Pro class (on Kawasaki KX250 two-stroke that he bought for $1800). Todd Gravitt won the Vet Intermediates, Vance Freeman the Vet Novices and Kelley Gilman the Vet Beginners.
Troy Lee. How do we know? It says so on his jersey.
THE BIGGEST CLASSES: The two biggest classes of the day were the Over-50 Novices and Over-50 Intermediates. Alf Alarik used a baseball score (4-2) to take the Over-50 Novice win in front of a top ten of Paul Crouch, Jr,. Mike Hillion, Tom Navarro, Terry Varner, Mark Testa, Randy Green, Chris Colquhoun, Eric Carr and Brian Martin.
Paul Fitz-Gibbon (38) cleans out an unsuspecting John Perry. See the complete sequence in the "Weekend News Report."
The biggest and fastest growing class is the Over-50 Intermediates. Steve Watson (1-2) took the win–helped by Robert Fahey’s 22-1. Second overall went to Joe Sutter with a 2-5. Greg Iorio returned to action with a solid third (4-8), Ray Poltack (13-3) was caught up in a crash in moto one, while Greg Groom (3-19) had his Over-50 Intermediate streak end with troubles in moto two. If you’d like to see more photos of the action from this class, click on the “Weekend News Report” and see the crash sequence of Paul Fitz-Gibbon and John Perry. Fitz-Gibbon was very apologetic after the crash, but that didn’t help Perry much because he had driven 12-hours from Durango, Colorado, for the race.
Noah Hickerson (39) works his way around the bumps at the bottom of Mt. Saint Helen.
AND NOW FOR THE YOUNG AND RESTLESS
250 INTERMEDIATE: The biggest disappointment of the day was when Adam Cianciarulo’s KX250F broke and he had to drop out of the 250 Intermediate class. Without Cianciarulo to duel with, Justin Hoeft, Zac Commans and Brad Walker dueled among themselves. Hoeft’s 2-1 took the win over Walker’s 3-2, while the unlucky Commans went 1-DNF.
Chris Frank (96) and Brad Walker (8) peel off a berm on the front straight.
450 INTERMEDIATE: Dylan Merriman swept the class with a 1-1 in front of R. J. Wagemen (2-2), Toby Kempe (6-3), Dylan Mroz (5-4) and James McDaniels (4-9).
Gary Jones won the Over-60 Expert class on CRF250.
450 PRO: With all the firepower in the 450 Pro class, Hunter Falk easily won the 250 Pro class, while Trent Pugmire was untouchable in the 450 class class. Geico Honda signee Matt Bisceglia got second with a 2-2 in front of Colton Aeck (5-3), Matas Inda (4-5), Justin Jones (6-6), Mitch Van De Mortel (9-4), Kevin Weisbruck (7-7), Austin Squires (8-8), Brett Hottel (10-12) and Sean Collier (3-DNF).
Max Lee displays some mid-air style in the 85 Intermediate class.
85 EXPERT: Tyler Weyman used a 3-1 to win the 85 Expert class over Aryton Ward (Jeff Ward’s Son). Tyler Hoeft, brother of 250 Intermediate winner Justin Hoeft, took the 85 Intermediate victory over Troy Lee’s son Max.
Artyon Ward has his own unique style in the 85 Expert class.
How many MXA test riders can you fit in a phone booth? This photo doesn't answer that question, but these guys are having fun racing with their friends.
REM does not race next weekend because of the 2012 MTA World Vet Championship, but returns to action on the REM track on November 10. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
Photos by Dan Alamangos