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Thoughts From Glen Helen National Motocross
Riders Battle Brutal Track
I decided to go up and watch the AMA National Motocross Championship at Glen Helen this weekend. It was a rare free day for me so I spent it doing motorcycle stuff. In many ways, the live race experience is not as complete as watching on the tube. You can’t keep up with all the action at once. But, watching first hand is the only real way to absorb all of the race energy and appreciate just how amazing the top level riders are.
The track at Glen Helen is like no other. The hills, the jumps, the ruts, everything. Much of the track looked more like something from a Hare Scrambles race. There were four spots that were so steep, if you got stopped it was impossible to get going again. There were multiple times I watched riders ride back to the bottom and start again, even Jason Anderson.
The uphill back in the canyon was the most entertaining. It had a short vertical face that became a 20 foot step up. There were multiple lines up the face, but they all merged together at the top. Many of the bikes kicked wildy on the step up and I witnessed a number of close calls as riders nearly collided.
On the downhills you could see the riders struggle as they got tired. Again the bikes would buck wildly under braking in the deep bumps as riders tried to hit the inside line at the bottom, many would have to bail out and ride over the berm to the outside line.
As for the riders, it was a great day for Musquin. He had control over both motos. But a very unlucky Jeremy Martin was obviously the fastest 250 on the track. The other 250 KTM’s were looking good, many of the riders showing the preference for Glen Helen as a home track. In both motos the KTM’s were 3 of the top 4 for much of the race.
In the 450’s Eli Tomac was simply head and shoulders above the field. To watch him in motion was amazing. He had speed and lines that no one else could quite manage. He would glide over sections that appeared rough for every single rider, even Dungey and Roczen. If Eli has really found his consistency, the battle for the series championship may soon be over.
Obviously Dungey had bike problems in the first moto. I think he had the bike stall at least three times, once right in front of me. I wasn’t able to see what happened on the last lap, but he lost 5 positions. Again, it makes me think about how amazing these guys are as riders. Dungey gritted it out for the entire moto on a bike that he knew wasn’t running right and prone to stalling. How deep to you have to dig to do that? How scary does every 100′ jump become?
As for entertainment, the 250 class had much more action. Battles were going on the entire race. Watching Martin work his way through traffic after starting both motos dead last was really something. He had to make somewhere around 70 passes during the day.
Perhaps the best show was the two stroke race. It was just a side show, but watching Sean Collier on his KX500 blaze around the track was really something. One 500 in a sea of 250s. The super deep Glen Helen track robbed all the power out of the bikes. So to hear the mellow bark of the 500 alongside the screaming beehive of 250s was awesome.
It was amazing to see just how smooth and fast the old KX looked. For example Collier was doing a triple through the whoops that no one else in the class could make. A close look at his bike shows lots of upgraded parts, like the triple camps and Showa kit fork. I tried to find laps times for the race, but no luck. Collier raced the 450 National class too, I hoped to see how the lap times compared. We certainly need more top level “run what you brung” two stroke races like this. They are a blast to watch.
Someone told me this weekend that Tomac’s home practice track never gets groomed. His dad, John Tomac, refuses to get the tractor out, so he just has to ride it full of ruts and holes. His speed in the most challenging of conditions is simply amazing. At this rate it may be tough for anyone else to stay in his draft for the outdoor season.
photos Simon Cudby, KTM, Husqvarna, Fasthouse, Geico Honda