Frank Rant

Since I’ve gotten a pretty good response to my rant I will continue for now.  If you guys get sick of it let me know.  Back in 1979 I was racing with a group of friends, we were all close in age, had the same interests and loved motocross. Of course back in 79 I was 175lbs., and had long hair.  I rode a Husky 250.  My friends were all into Japanese bikes and gave me a lot of crap for being the lone Euro holdout.  My racing buddies back then were Randy, Rick, and Steve.  We raced a lot together.  Saddleback, Carlsbad, Ascot, Speedway 117, Orange County Raceway an occasional away race for a big event.  Of all of us Randy was by far the fastest.  Blessed with natural talent, a great physique, good looking, smart, and a smooth approach to every situation.  He was the stereotypical ladies man.  He raced pro, and had sponsors.  We raced Junior and Intermediate and paid for everything ourselves.  Many a Saturday and Sunday saw us trucking to the races with a stop at Jack in the Box for a Bonus Jack at 6:30 am.  Randy said it made him faster.  This was way before the eat healthy craze.  A bonus jack for those of you too young to remember was Jack in the Box’s answer to the Big Mac. They stopped making it years ago. Yeah, a bonus jack and a large coke for breakfast on the way to the races, what I wouldn’t give for that now.  Randy could flat race a bike, and could flat charm the women.  But, he had a darker side.  He had what is now described as Attention Deficit Syndrome.  He squandered more chances at wealth and fame before he was 25 than most of us have in a life time.  He was constantly having women problems, money problems, then drinking problems and finally drug problems. The drugs nearly ruined his life. While the rest of had our families, jobs, and regular lives Randy was struggling with the many demons associated with drug abuse. Whenever I would see him though our talk always went back to the good times we had racing and hanging out.  But, his life was out of control and what I thought was the last time I would ever see him, he came to us for help.  We had already helped him numerous times, he showed up on our doorstep. He was living out of his truck, he needed money, he needed a shower, he needed everything.  He was standing there, clearly drugged up and we said no.  We said get your life together and we closed the door on him.  It was a decision that bothered me for many years.  Until shortly after we moved REM to Glen Helen I saw him again.  Randy had turned his life around, had a good job had someone important in his life, and was returning to many of ours first love, dirt bikes.  He was still hyper as hell.  Had 50 different projects that he was working on, but he was clean and sober and happy.  In a way it eased the pain of guilt at closing the door on him all of those years before.

About 3 years ago give or take, it was a typical Glen Helen Saturday Motocross. We had practice about half way completed when I got the call that our ambulance crew was responding to a man down in the pits.  This happens once in a while, a rider may have hurt himself on the National Track and our ambulance crew will respond.  I could see directly across from where I was running practice that the ambulance crew was working on a rider down on the road that travels up to the REM building.  They had been there quite a while, so fearing the worst I stopped practice and went up to check on the situation.  When I arrived it was clear that the rider down was in dire straights. The crew that was working on him was one of the best in the business.  It was obvious that the rider had suffered some sort of cardiac episode.  The crew was giving him CPR, had an oxygen mask on him, they had out the paddles and were shocking him.  They had done everything possible to save his life, but no one knew who he was.  He had no id, was not with anyone.  No keys, no phone, nothing.  He was wearing riding pants and boots and no shirt. The fire dept. paramedics showed up about this time and continued life saving measures. They asked me if I knew who he was.  I could not place him. He was not one of the REM regulars or even someone that I could remember seeing  before.  He was loaded and transported to the hospital.  The crew that worked on him was visibly shaken, they do not like to lose a patient and it was clear that the rider had little chance of surviving.  They checked the hospital a short time later and the unnamed rider had passed away.  And still no one knew who he was.  We got the races going shortly after the rider left the track in the ambulance, and I made it my job to find out who he was, where his truck was if he was with anyone, whatever I could.  I had done this once before when a rider passed away from a heart attack while practicing on the National Track.  I searched everywhere.  I asked everyone I could find.  Nothing.  No one knew who he was. I then started looking for unattended bikes and trucks.  I found one all alone, eerily under the same tree that I had found the truck of the other heart attack victim several years before.  I asked the people parked on either side and no one seemed to know anything.  So I opened the truck door and looked for a wallet. In the console I found what I was looking for, a wallet with a license. When I looked at the picture and then the name my breath was taken away, I felt light headed because there before me was the picture and name of my friend Randy whom I had raced with for all of those years.  As I was looking at the license a rider pulled up, he was with Randy, they had come to practice together.  He told me that Randy had pulled off the track feeling a little queasy, and was going to walk up the hill to see me.  He got about half way there when he suffered a massive coronary and died on the spot.  The man laying on the ground with the oxygen mask over his mouth, was one of my best friends from a very important time in my life.  I had not seen him in over 5 years.  I did not recognize him, but I was there with him when he died.  Somehow that makes it a little easier.  I have pictures in my office of Randy at the races, at my home, with my family, I will always miss regaining the friendship that we might have had. The rant part of this is, if you are going to the races, practice, whatever make sure you have something that can identify you.  When I go and ride anywhere I wear my REM dogtag which has my name and emergency call number on it around my neck on a chain.  There are products out there that can identify you as well.  Don’t assume because you came with a friend that you are covered.  Wear something  so that medical personnel can know who you are and how to contact a loved one.  Wear it around you neck, ziptie it to your chest protector, write it on your helmet.  If you don’t have one REM will make you one with your name and emergency contact number, send us your info and 6 bucks and we will get it out within 48 hours.  If nothing else use a magic marker and write your name and phone number on the inside of your visor.  Next weeks rant; sponsors, and do you buy things because they sponsor Joe Blow or do you buy from companies that support local racing.