Photos by Chris Alamangos & Dan Alamangos
Steve Sussman (127) ? Tunnel vision.
The REM Glen Helen 2012 motocross series is winding down. It is the longest points paying motocross series in the sport. At 40-races long, the goal of being the number one rider at Glen Helen Raceway is a carrot that is hard to resist. To get the number plate a rider has to race virtually every race without taking any family vacations, staying at home when injured or taking a weekend off because of the flu. Thanks to SoCal’s mostly perfect weather, Glen Helen racers can race virtually every weekend of the year ? from January to December.
Points can be earned in every class and skill level, but only in one class. If you move up or down, only the class that you have the most points in counts?they cannot be not added together and, of course, the size of the class makes a difference in the number of points paid.
This past weekend was the final “points paying” race of the year?although there is one more REM race on December 29, but it is just for fun without the pressure of counting points
Kordel Caro (672) ? Knee brace testing.
THE POINTS AS WE KNOW THEM
At the start of the day, on the last chance to earn points (double points are paid out on the last race of each month), the 2012 Number One plate had already been clinched by professional speedway racer Randy Skinner. Skinner had earned over 100 points more than his closest competitor. As a reward Skinner will receive prizes, a trophy, his name on the wall and an invitation to moved back up to the Expert class (if he choses not to move up, he will not receive any points in 2013).
Joe Sutter (111) ? Holding his own.
Former 125 Pro Dave Eropkin was a secure second in total points, but immediately behind Dave came a tight battle for third between Joe Sutter and Saddleback specialist Ray Pisarski (the current number one rider). Separated by only 4 points after 40 races, they both went into the day hoping to get third for the season.
Meanwhile, the battle for fifth was also a 4-point difference between TM importer Pete Vetrano and MXA’s Jody Weisel. Behind Jody came former Indian Dunes pro Jon Orter, LightSpeed’s Willie Amaradio and Mike Hillion. The points difference between these three riders was only 6 points in the race for seventh overall.
How did it turn out? Amazingly enough Joe Sutter and Ray Pisarski both went 3-3 in the respective classes. Joe Sutter took third overall by 4 points.
Jody Weisel ? Yes, those are snow-capped peaks in the background.
In the clash for fifth place for the year, former REM number one (albeit almost 15 years ago) Jody Weisel went 4-4 to Pete Vetrano’s 9-9. Jody got fifth and Pete ended up sixth.
The three-man squabble over seventh place was settled easily when Willie Amaradio went 1-1 to pass Jon Ortner, who missed the race, on points. Mike Hillion also passed Ortner for eighth place when he went 3-1 for second in his class.
Viktor Bjorklund (294) ? Welcome to America.
THE SWEDES ARE BACK IN FORCE
You couldn’t throw a rock at Glen Helen on Saturday without hitting a Swede. With Sweden deep in the throes of winter, the annual pilgrimage to SoCal has started as Emil Fallqvist, Gil Esquivel, Emil Nilsson, Ken Bengtson, Viktor Bjorklund, Martin Kaller, Mattias Augustsson, Marcus Hansson and Goren Bengtsson all came to hone their skills at REM.
The best of the Swedes was 450 Pro Viktor Bjorklund, who had finished second in the 2012 Swedish National Championships. In the first 450 Pro moto a battle raged between holeshot artist Dennis Stapleton, Bjorklund, Mitch Van De Mortel, Justin Jones and Broc Armbruster. At motos end, Viktor Bjorklund took the victory over a fast closing Justin Jones (son of four-time National Champion Gary Jones) and Mitch Van De Mortel.
Mitch Van De Mortel (112) ? 450 Pro winner.
In the second moto, things got a little ugly as Billy Mercier led, although he was racing in the Over-40 Pro class, with Broc Armbruster second and Bjorklund third. Coming out of the back portion of the course, the track climbed a steep hill to the top of a ridge, made a hard right hand turn and then dropped down the other side of the ridge into full view of the pits. On the third lap, Viktor Bjorklund forgot to shut off coming up the hill and flew into Armbruster. Given that the two riders were on top of a ridge with 100-foot drops on both sides, they were lucky not to have suffered any injuries. Armbruster’s brand-new Honda CRF450 was wrecked in the crash and he was hot. Bjorklund remounted and got back to third overall, but the overall win went to Mitch Van De Mortel (3-1) over Justin Jones (2-2).
Justin Jones ? This is hard to do by mistake, but he did it every lap.
As for Armbruster, he waited for Bjorklund to cross the finish line to settle the matter. Bjorklund to his credit apologized immediately and Armbruster kept his cool ? because fighting at REM results in being banned. The issue was over for this day, but might continue next Saturday.
THE 250 INTERMEDIATE DUEL
Ryan Surratt (51) ? Off the two-stroke…for now.
Ryan Surratt, son of former 125 West Supercross Champion Willy Surratt, is back on a four-stroke and he controlled both 250 Intermediate motos from the front with Zac Commans in pursuit. In the second moto Commans did a “Bjorklund” when he rammed Surratt in a tight right?but Commans went down instead and Surratt was able to ride away to the overall victory. Commans remounted to take second overall with Nathan Cernicky in third, Cole Seeley (different spelling than Cole Seely) fourth and Kordel Caro fifth.
ALL THE EXPERT CLASSES
Dennis Stapleton (184) ? Breaking in a new bike with a Vet Pro win.
250 Pro: Swede Emil Nilsson went 1-1 in front of Ken Bengtsson and Dylan Lemburg for the 250 Pro victory.
Over-30 Pro: Dennis Stapleton won the Vet Pro class and actually led the 450 Pros for several laps in moto one. Pro Circuit mechanic Paul Perebijnos went 2-2.
Over-40 Pro: Billy Joe Mercier, who also led the 450 Pros for several laps, before kindly moving over to let the Pros battle by themselves, went 1-1 in front of Willy Musgrave’s 3-2 and Randel Fout’s 2-3.
Paul Perebijnos (125) ? in two weeks he has to go back to work at his other racing job.
Over 40 Experts: Greg Pierce and Paul Krause were the class of the field, with Pierce and Krause splitting motos wins. Pierce’s 2-1 beat Krause’s 1-2.
Over-50 Experts: The top five in the Over-50 Expert class were Willie Amaradio (1-2), Dave Eropkin (3-1), Mike Monaghan (4-3), David Blunk (2-5) and Ron Lawson (5-4).
Willie Amaradio ? he is 7 or 17?
Over-60 Experts: George Kohler is a three-time REM Number One, but when he turned 60 late this year, he moved to the Over-60 Expert class, which meant that he forfeited earning any more points in the Over-50 class that he raced for eight months. Since moving to the older age group George has been winning with regularity and even finished third overall in the 2012 World Veteran Motocross Championships last month. On Saturday Kohler ripped off two holeshots to sweep both motos in front of Hollywood stuntman Mic Rodgers.
Sean Boulware (44) ? Paying honor to his dad.
Things happen at every race that often are overlooked in the fervor over the Pros and Experts. Here are a few noteworthy performances.
Sean Boulware, son of the late Dennis Boulware, brought his father’s KTM 450SXF out to race for the first time since his dad’s untimely death. Sean won the Vet Novice class in an emotional ride.
In what has to be an REM first, the 125 Beginner class was won by a women. Actually, the top three spots in the 125 Beginner class were filled by women as Tara Nearants (1-2), Kelsey Larson (3-1) and Talicia Larson (2-3) swept the podium.
Billy Mercier (10) and Paul Krause (79) ? Sweeping down the hill.
Jon Rice, grandson of the famous 1960s racer John R, won the 250 Novice class after borrowing a bike five-minutes before the start of his first moto when his YZ250 two-stroke had a flat tire.
Bill Seifert returned to racing after five months off with an arm injury (sustained in a workshop accident not racing). Seifert had spent over two months in a cast, but when the doctors removed the cast, his arm was exactly as it was when the cast was put on. Bill spent three more months in a soft cast waiting for it to heal. He came back on Saturday and rode well enough to take fifth overall in the Over-60 Expert class.
Braden Larson (21) ? Those Larsons are everywhere.
The most popular name at REM this week was Larson. Wyatt Larson, Kelsey Larson, Ty Larson, Talicia Larson and Braden Larson filled the starting gates.
The make-up of brands at REM this weekend was broken down this way: 27% Honda, 21% KTM, 21% Yamaha, 14% Kawasaki, 9% Suzuki, 3% other.
REM races again next Saturday, December 29, 2012. And, as hard as it is to believe, the first points paying race of 2013 is the following weekend (and will continue for the next 12 months). For more info go to www.remsatmx.com