250 Pro winner Billy Musgrave exits the "muddy turn" no worse for the wear... although he almost left his right Jett boot behind.
While the REM motocross track is being rebuilt, after being transformed into a giant arena for the Red Bull X-Fighters, the weekly REM Glen Helen motocross races have been moved to the front Grand Prix track. Glen Helen has no shortage of race tracks. Originally called Arroyo Cycle Park back in the 1970s (on the site of the current REM track), the AMA National/USGP track was built on an old sand drag track in the 1980s. Since then Glen Helen has added an Endurocross course (rocks, logs and giant tires), a Lucas Oil offroad truck course, two Supercross tracks and enough land to run cross-country, endurance and enduro-style events.
And this past Saturday the REM motocross races were held on the USGP track, while a National Hillclimb Championship was using the hills of the REM track for their pro event and an automobile rally event was carving up the dirt next to the offroad truck track. Short of holding a mud run, which Glen Helen also hosts, the park was packed to the brim.
BACK AT THE RACES
Among several scary crashes during the day, this one ranks near the top. Bob Gilbert (427) landed on Marc Crosby (95) over a jump and the two riders hit the ground hard.
Marc Crosby, the "Dentist of the Stars," suffered an injury to his hand and could not continue. The two were lucky that the next rider, orange-helmeted George Kohler, saw the crash and didn't commit to the jump.
The racing was intense on Saturday with MXA’s Billy Musgrave winning the 250 class after two titanic duels with Cody Woodworth. Both riders were on two-strokes and they passed each other at will. Musgrave took the 1-1 victory, but largely by virtue of his ability to handle the “muddy turn,” which sprung from out of the ground in the exact same spot as Glen Helen’s infamous AMA National “muddy straight.” The muddy turn would determine the outcome of several races on Saturday and end the hopes of other potential winners. This 100 yards of goop was a spectator favorite. No one knows why this section of track was so muddy, because the rest of the track was perfect. It is assumed that because it at the lowest part of the track and was the muddiest section of the mud run that it has moisture oozing up from underneath the surface.
Bill Seifert tastes mud (and not for the only time this day), while Joe Hammer (30) tries to get lined up. Bill had his issues, but managed a fourth overall in the Over-60 Experts behind Jim O'Neal, Ray Pisarski and Jody Weisel. Hammer went 11-8.
Musgrave’s victory in the 250 Pros was made equally strange when his father, Willy Musgrave got involved in wheel-to-wheel combat with Jon Ortner in the combined Over-40 Pro and Over-50 Expert race. Ortner and the elder Musgrave were locked handlebar to handlebar in their first moto with each rider leading the alternate laps of the race (and the muddy turn being the place of most of the passes). Finally, Ortner made the “mud mistake” that Musgrave needed and Jon had to settle for second behind Willy in moto one.
Vet Intermediate winner Todd Gravitt (10) passes Jay Rabjohn (143).
Unfortunately in the second moto, Ortner and Musgrave picked up right where they left off until Jon Ortner misjudged the rolling whoop section. As Ortner entered the whoops, he got cocked to the side and started crossing the biggest whoops at an angle. That angle would eventually cause him to crash as he ran out of track before he ran out of whoops. The crash was violent. Ortner was sent to the hospital with unknown injuries.
Musgrave would, of course, win the Over-40 Pro class, while the Over-50 Expert victory that Ortner had in the bag went to two-stroke-mounted Randel Fout, with Steve Pfaff second, Willie Amaradio third and Ron Lawson fourth.
THE BIG CLASSES AND THE BIG WINNERS
Brian Martin was one of the many riders in the Over-50 Novice class. Sadly for Brian, he was in the middle of the field, not the front. No matter, he looks stylish on his yellow YZ250F.
The biggest class of the day was the Over-50 Novices. It was won by Ty Larson (1-1) in front of Mitch Evans (2-3), Brian Underdahl (4-2), Paul Chaffee (3-4) and John Tookey (8-5).
The second biggest class was the Over-50 Intermediates, which Brian Allen swept in front of Randy Skinner (2-2), Mike Phillips (4-3), George Kohler (3-4), Mark Hall (8-5), Dennis Boulware (5-8) and John Caper (7-7).
Some riders always seem to find each other on the track – George Kohler (62) and Mark Hall (25) have been finding each other for about 15 years. On this day, Kohler had the edge on his KTM 350SXF.
The third biggest class of the day was the Over-40 Intermediates (the trend here seems to be that there are a lot of older riders supporting the sport). Gary Renko used a 1-2 to defeat Kelly Gelhaus (2-3), Robert Kuhry (3-4) and Shawn Hall (7-1). Crashes dominated this class – with the muddy turn collecting almost half the field at one point (because they were race one on the program they got to the mud first...which had been worked on after practice to make it look pretty, but no less deep).
Randel Fout shows the three best ways to handle mud. (1) Buy a two-stroke. (2) Keep it pegged. (3) Let it all hang out.
Dare we say it? The next biggest class was the Over-50 Expert class. It was going to be easily won by former Indian Dunes Pro Jon Ortner until his second moto incident in the whoops. In the end, RM250-mounted Randel Fout took the win with a 2-1. Troy Lee was third in the first moto. Troy skipped going with his race team to the Hangtown National to bring son Max and Jeff Ward’s son Aryton to REM to race. Max won the 150 class, while Aryton was second in the 85 Expert class (behind Robbie Wageman).
THERE ARE ALWAYS THOSE CLASSES
Dylan Haase (12) has turned his attention of mountain bike racing lately, but he still knows how to throw roost.
Most people think that the Pro classes are the ones to watch at a race, but that isn’t always so...and at REM a lot of eyes were on the 250 Novice class. It had lots of interesting story lines. One of them was not who was going to win – Tanner Basso left no doubt about that was he gapped the pack to go 1-1 easily. Behind him were a couple really cool races, including a battle between Braden O’Neal and Dylan Haase (both sons of motorcycle industry execs). They had a spirited battle. Dylan beat Braden in the first moto when, you guessed it, the muddy turn claimed Braden on the last lap. In the second moto Braden beat Dylan to get second overall with a 3-2 to Haase’s 2-3.
Braden O'Neal wears O'Neal gear on his way to the very edge of this berm, meanwhile Grandpa won the Over-60 Experts.
Meanwhile behind them came another private battle between Jon Rice (son of WMX racer Tami Rice and grandson of John “John R” Rice of 1960’s fame) and Greg Jones (son of four-time AMA Champion Gary Jones – Gary was at the WORCS race at RaceTown was his other son Justin). Patriarchs Gary Jones and John Rice raced against each other in the early days of motocross. Given their racing credentials, Gregory Jones should have easily handled Jon Rice... but Greg has been away from racing for almost two years after breaking both femurs in the same crash. Greg came to REM to try out his rebuilt legs and have some fun with his friends. In the end, Jon Rice went 6-5 and Greg Jones went 5-6.
This may look like a move out of the Justin Barcia playbook, but these guys went to the same high school, grew up two blocks apart and like each other. Greg Jones (42) stuffs his buddy Jon Rice (722).
Other winners on the day were Brian Stoner (Vet Novice), Braden Larson (450 Novice), Travis Hoffman (125 Novice), Jim O’Neal (Over-60 Expert), Jeff Pederson (450 Beginner), Chris Zobel (450 Pro), John Roggero (150 Beginner), Zach Boskovich (85 Intermediate), Jacob Macrae (85 Beginner) and Mike Borowski (Over-40 Novice).
Mitch Evans (yellow gear) and Paul Chaffee blast out of the last few feet of muck in the Over-50 Novice class. Evans went 2-3 and Chaffee 3-4.
REM races again next weekend, Saturday, May 26 (on the totally revamped and redesigned REM track...assuming that all goes well with the new layout and watering system...which was delayed going in because of the NAHA Hillclimb). For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
Photos by Dan Alamangos
If you want to see video of what the REM track looked like this weekend, watch this “Stars of Motocross” video which was shot on the same track a few days earlier. You can see the rolling whoop section where Jon Ortner crashed at 3:13 and 4:02.