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Christian Craig (43) is preparing for his AMA National comeback at Red Bud in two weeks. Photo: Mark Chilson
From the very first lap of practice everyone at Glen Helen’s REM motocross race knew that it was going to be an intense day. As always the REM motocross track was an interesting mixture of big hills, steep off-cambers, deep ruts, excellent viewing and lots of bumps...lots is an understatement.
Sean Collier comes out of the back half of the REM track. Photo: Mark Chilson
Also on the plate was a competitive 450 Pro class that included Troy Lee Design's Christian Craig, Sean Collier, Swede Rickard Sandberg, offroad star Colton Haacker, Vance & Hines’ Steven Tokarski, NorCal’s Lee Witt and competitive field.
Colton Haacker went 4-4 for fourth overall, but was nudged out of third overall in the final scoring. Photo: Chris Alamangos
450 Pro: There was no doubt that AMA National rider Sean Collier was going to win the 450 Pro class. His effortless riding style is well suited to the rough REM track. In the first moto Collier motored past Christian Craig to take an impressive win.
Former AMA National and Supercross rider Tony Amaradio doesn't race for a living anymore, so he just races for fun. His idea of fun is to go very fast. Photo: Chris Alamangos
Craig is planning to return to the AMA Nationals at Red Bud in two weeks, so he was using REM as a chance to test his fitness. With the long motos and the abundance of squared-edged bumps and ruts, it was the kind of test that Christian’s oft-injured wrist needed. After finishing second in the first moto, Christian was following Sean Collier in the second moto when Collier suddenly went down in the steep downhill corkscrew corner. Collier was up quickly, but Craig would get the moto win and use a 2-1 to best Collier’s 1-2.
Lee Witt continues to be the only Pro to jump the blind double out of REM's stadium section (although 250 Intermediate Paul Coates did it also). Witt went 10-7 for eight overall in the 450 Pro class. Photo: Mark Chilson
V&H’s Steven Tokarski was third in the first moto, but crashed out of the second moto, which allowed Swedish rider Rickard Sandberg, who is also racing the AMA Nationals, to use a 5-3 for third overall. Colton Haacker was a consistent 4-4 for fourth with Keith Knight (6-5) rounding out the top five.
Rickard Sandberg is part of the Swedish contingent racing the AMA Nationals. Rickard was third overall at REM behind Christian Craig and Sean Collier and tied on points with Colton Haacker. Photo: Chris Alamangos
Steven Tokarski was gonna be third...if only you could take a "gonna" to the bank. Photo: Mark Chilson
Daniel Meynet (15) and Blake Lilly (38). Photo: Mark Chilson
Other Pro classes: Daniel Meynet swept both moto of the 250 Pro class in
front of Blake Lilly (2-2) and Broc Armbruster (3-5). Tony Amaradio
easily won the Vet Pro class, while Willy Musgrave used MXA’s YZ250
two-stroke project bike to sweep both motos of the Over-40 Pro class.
Ryan Surratt (51) and Paul Coates (77) dueled for the 250 Intermediate win. It was a classic two-stroke versus four-stroke showdown – with Coates and the thumper taking the victory. Photo: Chris Alamangos
250 Intermediates: The 250 Intermediate class drew a lot of attention
because Vance & Hines brought their Loretta Lynn hopeful Paul Coates
over from England (Coates lives most of the year at the Millsaps
Training Facility). Meanwhile, former 125 West Supercross Champion Willy
Surratt’s son Ryan is also Loretta Lynn bound...on a YZ250
two-stroke. The two riders were never more than 100 feet apart as they
raced two motos within striking distance of each other. The ebb and flow
depended on lappers as each rider accordioned back and forth. In the
end, Coates won both motos with Surratt right behind him. Swede Kris Palm was third with Tyler Varner fourth and Jennifer Burton fifth.
Willy Musgrave (192) won the Over-40 Pro class, while Randel Fout (46) won the Over-50 Experts. Both raced two-strokes and that wasn't a fluke – as two-stroke riders won 10 out of 30 classes at REM. Photo: Mark Chilson
Over-50 Expert: Randel Fout used a Suzuki RM250 two-stroke to win the Over-50 Expert class. Fout’s two-stroke was too much for the four-strokes of the rest of the class, but he did get beat by the YZ250 two-stroke of Willy Musgrave (although it didn’t hurt Randel’s overall score because Musgrave was in the Over-40 class). LightSpeed carbon fiber owner Willie Amaradio was a solid 2-2 in front of 1970’s Saddleback Pro Dave Eropkin and Dirt Bike editor Ron Lawson. Fred Nicholls rounded out the top five with a 5-6.
Randy Skinner crashes in front of Mike Monaghan (33). Monaghan would go on to win the Over-50 Intermediates on a YZ125. Photo: Mitch Evans
Over-50 Intermediates: Ever since the Over-50 Intermediate class was realigned by the movement of five former Over-50 Experts down to the class, there has been nothing but controversy. And, that controversy has not been ignored by REM announcer Tom White, who constantly calls the five riders “cherrypickers”...especially when they are sitting on the starting line and can hear him over the loudspeaker. The five riders take it in stride because they were getting beat bad in the Over-50 Experts and moved down at the first of the year. Since they moved down, none of the existing Over-50 Intermediates has won a race.
REM's steep hills can lead to some optical illusions. Dave Eropkin (811) is on a different part of the track. Dave is way below the three riders coming down the hill Photo: Dan Alamangos
And there is even dissension among the five escapees as former Pro Circuit Husqvarna team rider Mike Monaghan has won the last five races in a row. And, to rub it in, he has done the deed on a 125cc or 150cc two-strokes every time. Sometimes he has to come from behind, but more often than not he puts his 125 into the top three at the start makes a couple quick passes to win. This week he got a second place start in moto one and inherited the lead when Speedway racer Randy Skinner, also on a two-stroke, went down all by himself (not that Monaghan and Skinner haven’t had a few racing incidents in the past). Then, in the second moto, Monaghan got a eighth place start. It took him half the moto to get to the front, but he ended up with a 1-1, George Kohler (2-2) was second, Russell Brown (3-3) third, Mike Phillips (4-4) fourth and Pete Vetrano (5-7) fifth). Randy Skinner went 9-5 for seventh. As a reward for his total dominace–Mike Monaghan is now an Over-50 Expert again.
Aerobatic pilot Doug Jardine (265) and 80-year-old AMA Hall of Famer Feets Minert (13), also an aerobatic pilot, fly in close formation at Glen Helen. This was Jardine's last REM race as he is moving to Colorado to be closer to the Midwest air show circuit. Photo: Mark Chilson
Over-50 Novice: The biggest class of the day was the Over-50 Novices (or as they are often called, “the next Over-50 Intermediates”). Mike Hillion took the win with a strong 1-1 in front of Mitch Evans (2-2), Brian Underdahl (3-3), Frank Behr (4-5), Chuck Cook (7-6), Doug Jardine (6-7), Jeffrey Arzouman (5-9), Paul Crouch, Jr. (12-4), John Tookey (8-8) and Tom McKenna (10-10).
Mark Taylor (129), Braden Larson (21), Sinjin Lloyd (19), Jeff Gibson (744) and Adam Waheed (379) fan out on REM's difficult banked turn. Photo: Mark Chilson
450 Novice: Kyle Smith, who has been missing from the REM ranks for a couple months, swept both motos of the 450 Novices. Braden Larson used a 3-2 to take second in front of the 2-3 of John Basher. Adam Waheed’s 5-4 got him fourth with Ian Andre (4-5) in fifth.
A blue and orange sandwich. As Tony Amaradio tries to squeeze between MXA's Mark Hall (23) and Chris Alamangos (33) they close ranks on him. Photo: Dan Alamangos
Vet Novice: Chris Alamangos is another rider who has been missing from REM for a couple months...although his brother Dan races every weekend. Chris won the Vet Novice class on a YZ125 two-stroke in front of a top five made up of the TM 144 two-stroke of Pete Vetrano, big four-stroke of Gary Taylor, KTM 250SX two-stroke of Tom Hinz and TM 300 two-stroke of Todd Huegel. As for brother Dan Alamangos, he went 1-2 in the Over-40 Intermediates, but was inched out of the victory by Mike Gee’s 2-1. Dirk Davidow was third.
Brandon Krause (430) won the 125 Novice class. Here, he is chased by Chris Gibeault (391) and Brandon Cole (14). Photo: Mark Chilson
George Kohler (93), Gary Scott (157) and Dan Alamangos (86). Photo: Mark Chilson
REM does not race next weekend at Glen Helen, but returns on July 7. For more info go to