As we run through our 25th year of promoting motocross races, I can’t help but be a bit nostalgic. I’m not one to keep mementoes of our races. I’ve given away most of the things that I collected over the years. But, I have a tremendous backlog of memories from all of the races we have done. I remember all the good and bad days, most of the people, and the bizarre events that make up our history.
I may be incorrect, but I believe that I have watched more laps of live racing in the past 25 years than any other human being. 25 years, about 40 races a year, plus most of the supercross races in So Cal, the Nats, the GPs. I have spent more time actually on the track than I care to think of. There are a lot of people that don’t even know that I own REM, they think I just a track worker. I have watched so much racing that I am usually running towards a crash before it has actually happened. I usually couldn’t tell you who won, but I can tell you who fell and why.
One of the things I am most proud of is all of the great racers who have brought their own children out to race REM, many of them had their first motocross race with us. Roger DeCoster brought out his son Kitch when we were at Carlsbad. Rick Johnson, Jeff Ward, Mike Bell, Troy Lee, Gary Jones, Larry Brooks, Willy Surratt, have all had their kids race with us. The pros who have raced with us read like a who’s who of motocross. From the ten Commotion by the Oceans to the weekly motocross program most have raced with us, from Jeremy McGrath, Villpoto, Grant, Tomac, Johnson, Ward, Lechien, the late Donny Schmidt, Mike Craig, almost all of the freestyle guys before they went to freestyle raced moto with us. Just about every factory star, privateer past and present have raced with us. One of my regrets was having a rainout the day Ricky Carmichael was going race with us. So many of the greats from the past, including one of our favorites Chuck “feets” Minert. Over the years almost every major player in the industry has raced with us. Magazine guys, clothing guys, pipe guys, factory guys, the guys that have created this sport have almost all raced with us. Every week it has been a surprise who shows up to compete or just hang out in the pits. I’ve met the very best and some of the very worst of motocross.
What gives me the greatest joy are all the racers who have raced with us for years. And those that go away for a few years to return to racing with REM. We have made so many life long friends over the past 25 years of racing. My group of buddies are not industry bigwigs, but guys just like anyone else that races motocross. A cabinet maker, a school bus company owner, a dentist, a couple of salesmen, a police detective, a machinist. I do have friends in the industry, but for the most part I don’t hang out during the week with them, just on Saturday’s. Most of the industry guys are just like anyone else, they just have a cool job. Although most of the will admit that their jobs are not always as cool as most think.
Because of REM I have had some fun times at some other events. One of the coolest things I did was help build goggles for the Spy racers inside the Kawasaki semi at the San Diego SX once. That may not sound like fun to most but it was really cool. I have been down on the floor for a lot of Supercrosses. It is a completely different experience mostly because you cannot see what is actually going on. I worked as a spotter for Terry Boyd the former announcer of SX a couple of times, which was a real eye opener. I was actually interviewed by the great Larry Huffman at a SX once, and I got to meet the late Micky Thompson. I’ve gotten to be a part of all the Nationals at Glen Helen, and the USGP. When we first built the REM track at Glen Helen Doug Henry told me he liked the track, as a big Henry fan that was one of the all time compliments I ever received.
One of my favorite moments was Jean Michel Bayle racing the 2nd Commotion on a privateer Honda. That race featured one 35 minute plus 2 laps pro moto. Bayle cartwheeled while leading going down the 3rd straight away heading towards the ledge. His bike ended up at least 100’ from where he landed. He ran to the bike and passed all the way to 2nd and was challenging for the lead the last lap finishing just feet behind Mike Healy. It was his first race in America, and made me a lifelong Bayle fan.
One of my least favorite moments was when I had to convince an older 125 Beginner that he was not going to race pro just so he could be on the track with Rick Johnson, he was serious. But, so was I, in the end his ego was seriously deflated. Fights are never fun and over the years we have had some really bizarre ones. In fact we created a Pink Jersey that if you misbehaved you had to wear. If you actually throw blows you are done for the day, sometimes the month, year, or forever. The problem has always been a fight between two competitors occurs but neither says anything about it, and I find out after the fact. Fighting is not cool, revenge moves are not cool, threats aren’t either. In the end we are all just a bunch of yahoos out racing dirt bikes and that in itself is an extremely crazy thing to do. We need to admit that we are all mutants of one sort or the other and embrace each other as a fellow mutant brothers or sisters.
Over the years just as we have made many friends and we have lost some. Some to cancer, some to other illness, some to riding accidents and a few to racing. Their memories and photos are all that we have of them now, I think about them and miss them as they were all members of our REM family. We have had many racers move away from So Cal over the years and it is always a treat to receive an email or note from them. I recently had a REM racer from 15 years ago email me from Germany where he has been living for a while.
All these years of promoting, racing, working on tracks, picking up rocks, picking up riders, starting bikes, fighting with track owners, begging for products from sponsors, dropping the gate, doing the riders meeting, dealing with spoiled kids, bad parents, dealing with good kids, and great parents, waving yellow flags, riding behind Dr John, getting roosted by Jody, being badgered by Alan Olson, trying to get racers to behave, and I’m not dead yet.