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Photos by Jon Ortner & Rich Stuelke (Portraits by Ernie Becker)
Tom White ask the REM gang if they could hold the “Un-Race V” on Sunday. So, it was rescheduled, albeit at the very last minute, so that Tom could ride with his friends between his medical treatments.
The weekly REM races at Glen Helen are on their summer break. That means no REM races for one month. The solution for REM racers is the “Un-Race.” What is an “Un-Race?” It’s identical to the weekly REM races except there is no sign-up, no entry fee, no scoring and no checkered flag. Instead, it is a get-together of the REM racers, whom spend the day hanging out, doing laps and shooting the breeze. How does that differ from any other practice day at any of the 10 racetracks in SoCal? It is unique because to the outside world, Glen Helen’s REM track is closed for the day. Except that it isn’t. Glen Helen rips and preps the REM track, and the REM racers water it and keep it moist during the day.
If the track is closed then how does anyone know that it will be open? They have to listen to the jungle drums. There is no official announcement. It’s not on the internet. It just happens—and if you find out about it, you can be there. Surprisingly, lots of people find out — even though only a small handful of MXA test riders are behind getting Glen Helen to agree to rip and prep the REM track for them. Thus, only these ten guys are in the know — how the rest of the REM faithful find out is a mystery — it’s possible there is a leak in MXA’s iron-clad security system.
Gary Renko rails out of rut. What’s most satisfying is that it just may be a rut that Gary watered an hour before. The riders do all of the watering to lessen the burden on the Glen Helen track crew—who have other things to do. Thanks Gary.
But MXA doesn’t care if lots of REM guys show up to ride at an “Un-Race.” Although it may be used as a test day by the magazine—it’s all for fun. “Un-Race V” was a little different. Because the SoCal temperatures were predicted to be 105 degrees or more this week, there was no “Un-Race” scheduled (not that they are every truly scheduled). Add to this that there was an offroad truck race at Glen Helen on Saturday (and they were using a portion of the REM track as their course), and the beach was looking pretty good. “Un-Races” only pop up on weeks when the official REM races aren’t scheduled — but not every time there isn’t an REM race — proven by the fact that this week was only the fifth “Un-Race” of 2017. They have always been held on Saturday, but this week it was moved to Sunday. Why? AMA Hall of Famer Tom White had chemo schedule for the following week and wants to ride every chance he gets while fighting cancer. He asked Jody if the MXA test crew would skip the beach and hold the “Un-Race” on Sunday instead. Jody said “yes” and talked to the Glen Helen track crew about prepping the REM track on Sunday morning (after they were through working on the National track where the Yamaha Dealer Series was being held). They said, “No problem.” Thanks to Lori, John, Ian and Andrew.
Glen Helen’s track crew is very busy on a race weekend, but Jody promises them that they won’t have to water the track, just rip it. How does the track get watered? The REM riders do it themselves. Before the riding starts, the riders man the fire hoses and water every square inch of the track…and they come back out at regular intervals to keep it watered. It takes the burden off of Glen Helen — who is going to the extreme to do a favor for Tom and Jody. Once the track is watered, the assembled crowd can ride as long as they want (or until the volunteer riders who handle the watering decided to pack up and go home). Thus, “Un-Race V” happened out of the blue on one-day’s notice.
REM’s regular race schedule is on a one-month break from racing, and for a group of riders who race against each other almost 40 times a year, that one month off is torture. The “Un-Race” is a chance to show up at the track, spin laps with the same people you race against all year long and get the feeling that you can only get from riding a motocross bike. It should be noted that the only exclusive part of an “Un-Race” is organizing it — everyone is welcome to come and ride, not just REM guys, if they find out that it is happening. And, we promise you that we are not holding “Un-Race 6.0” next Saturday, September 2…really, we aren’t.
If you ‘d like to race the REM track, as opposed to Un-Racing it, go to www.remsatmx.com or show up when the series resumes on September 23. REM caters to young families, old Pros and the largest Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60s weekly turnouts in the world.
Tom White is reason that “Un-Race V” was held on Sunday. After Tom has chemo treatments for his battle with cancer he is too ill to ride for almost a week. He felt good this weekend, and thus an “Un-Race” was held so that Tom could ride with his friends before his next chemo appointment. And the former Grand National dirt tracker and 1990 World Vet Champion can still ride pretty fast.