REM GLEN HELEN RACE REPORT: THE BIGGEST LITTLE RACE IN THE WORLD
After a week of wildfires and high winds, a return to REM motocross was high on the list of SoCal racers. It was a break from the terrible news of burned houses, fallen trees, blown-up transformers and closed freeways. But the specter of high winds still worried the REM regulars, but instead of the predicted gusts coming down the canyon that Glen Helen Raceway sits at the base of, there was only a steady breeze and the occasional blast—nothing by Glen Helen’s wind standard. It was a pleasant 80 degrees.
When winds are predicted, REM takes the big hill out of the track layout to keep the riders from being buffeted as they crest the lip of Mt. Whitney. Luckily, the REM track offers lots of elevation change and length without having to go up the main hill.
THE BIG STORIES FROM REM
There were lots of racing tales to tell, but here are the big stories from this weekend at Glen Helen.
450 Pro: Sean Lipanovich had retired from the AMA National a few years ago to focus on his motocross school, but this year he decided to make a return to racing and has reeled off 4 straight wins in the 450 Pro class at REM. He wasn’t challenged out front this weekend, but behind him Blake Lilly and Justin Muscurr battled over second place.
Jon Ortner was going to have a long battle with first Over-50 Elite moto winner Luther French, until Luther threw it away in moto two. Just like Anthony Keasey in the minis, Jon showed good sportsmanship by slowing down to make sure Luther was okay before continuing. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Over-50 Elite: This class is a special class that sits above Over-50 Expert and is reserved for a selected group of riders, who because of their AMA Pro background or sheer speed, are too good for the large number of Over-50 Experts. Thus, they got moved to a special class by themselves. In 2017 Over-50 Elite winners have included Ron Lechien, Doug Dubach, Gordon Ward, Pete Murray, Eddie Davis, Luther French and Jon Ortner. But on a weekly basis the battle boils down to Jon Ortner versus Luther French. Ortner is the winningest Elite rider of 2017 with 9 wins, while French has won 3 times and was second 10 times. This week Luther French won the first moto by 5 seconds over Ortner and was leading the second moto by the same margin before crashing really hard at the end of the whoop section. Ortner sprinted away the overall win with a 2-1, while Luther picked himself up about 40 seconds back and soldiered in for second.
If you raced at Saddleback, Irwinsdale, Ascot or Indian Dunes in the 1970s you heard of these two guys. Val Tamietti (31) and Dave Eropkin (811) battle for the Over-60 Expert victory. Photo: Debbi Tamietti
Over-60 Expert: If you had told a motocrosser 10 or 15 years ago that riders over the age of 60 years old would be a force in motocross, they would have laughed at you. But, for the first time ever at Glen Helen, the Over-60 Expert class was the biggest class of the day (and as a group, riders over 60 years old made up 20% of all the racers at REM). And this isn’t your grandpa out there puttin’ around the track (although he could be). Instead these are some big names from the 1970s. The top three this weekend were former CMC number one and Maico star Val Tamietti, SoCal 125 Pro Dave Eropkin and former Baja 500 and 1000 winner Bob Rutten. The winners of the Over-60 Expert class in 2017 include former Japanese Champion Isao Ida, Former New Zealand Champion and MXDN rider Tony Cooksey, 1980 AMA 500 National Champion and MXDN winner Chuck Sun, former Pro Jim Latendresse, So Cal regular Joe Pena and Saddleback star Val Tamietti. Val is the winningest rider in any class at Glen Helen in 2017 with 15 victories (9 of them in a row).
OVER-60 Intermediate: Just below the Over-60 Experts come the Over-60 Intermediates. This class is noteworthy because it has the most winners in 2017. An amazing 12 different riders have won the Over-60 Intermediates—a class which is made up of former Over-60 Experts (who not surprisingly were also former Over-50 Experts, Over-40 Experts, Over-30 Experts and, at one time, 18-year-old Experts), former Over-60 Experts who are now over 70 years old and a bunch of young whippersnappers who just turned 60 this year. The 12 winners include Kent Reed (5 wins), Jody Weisel (3 wins), John Bosanko (3 wins), George Kohler (2 wins), Phil Cruz (2 wins) and 1 win apiece for Dan Schramm, Tim Hoole, Jim Butts, Steve Chandler, Bill Seifert, Duane Joice & Glenn Senecal.
SELECTED CLASSES FROM THIS WEEK’S RACE
450 PRO 1. Sean Lipanovich…1-1 2, Blake Lilly…3-2
3. Justin Muscutt…2-3
250 INTERMEDIATE 1. Pablo Mogollon…1-1 2. Carter Dubach…3-2
3. Tatsushi Kawakami…2-4
OVER-40 EXPERT 1. Alan Jullien…2-2 2. David Cincotta…4-1
3. Ralf Schmidt…3-3
OVER-50 EXPERT 1. Ron Shuler…1-1 2. Pasha Afshar…3-3
3. Joe Sutter…2-4
OVER-50 INTERMEDIATE 1. Randy Skinner…1-1 2. Bryan Friday…2-2
3. Robert Pocius…3-3
OVER-60 EXPERT 1. Val Tamietti…1-1 2. Dave Eropkin…3-2
3. Bob Rutten…2-3
OVER-60 INTERMEDIATE 1. Phil Cruz…2-1 2. Steven Chandler…1-2
3. John Caper…3-3
VET BEGINNER 1. Michael Kun…1-1 2. Mike Witzke…2-2
3. Steve Witzke…3-3
OVER-40 NOVICE 1. Louie Romo…1-1 2. Ken Clark…2-2
3. Pete Vetrano…3-3
OVER-50 NOVICE 1. Glenn Pietronica…2-1 2. Luc Deley…1-3
3. Lance Sloane…3-2
65 ADVANCED 1. Jack Aaron…1-1 2. David Treadwell…4-2
3. Anthony Keasey…3-3
REM races again next Saturday, December 16, before taking Christmas weekend off. They will return to Glen Helen again on December 30. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com.