“Under The Lights” Stadium X Opening Event May 18, 2013

DSC_0350There is racing “Under the Lights” at Glen Helen this summer! The first of a 6-race night series was held Saturday night, May 18th, on the new and spectacular “Under the Lights” StadiumX track. iMOTO MX is a brand new So Cal race promotion group which will be running the night racing series (along with the 5-race day series, “Maximum Traction” on the National and REM Glen Helen tracks).
The night series kicked off to a fine start as racers from more than a dozen different classes lined up and launched off onto the stadium cross track. These were the inaugural races for the new track. The most recent competition edition to the world famous Glen Helen complex, this “SX style” track features a good length start straight. It deposits the riders on a tight but challenging course with many fun obstacles. Table jumps, a dragon-back triple, whoops, high-banked bowl turns, and a long roller section in front of the main viewing stands are some of the highlights of this great new course. While certainly not a full-up pro level Supercross layout, the track is very challenging and a lot of fun. The layout and prep brought raves from many competitors after all the gates had dropped and the checkers had flown. Many of the gates were mixed classes, and the racing was of very high caliber.
In the first event Nikki Dorsey, a very fast young lady, almost pulled the hole-shot from lightning fast Trevor Stewart, but not quite! Both riders were on 2-stroke Yamahas. Dorsey went on to win the woman’s class overall, while Stewart wheelied down straights, just having a good ol’ time on the way to winning the 125 Novice class. The 250 Novice class was won by KTM rider Kyle Phillips who went 2-1 over second place finisher, Honda mounted Kevin Moore (3-2). Trevor Stewart, racing in 2 classes that night, won the first moto, but a wrist injury forced him to drop out of the second moto with a DNF. The 450 Novice class had some strong racing with Gilbert Royal taking the overall on his Yamaha (2-1), and Evan Blevins showing good speed with a second overall (1-2) aboard his Honda. The 450 Intermediate class brought hot action as Jason McGuidwin and Doug Manhire, both on Hondas, raced to swap moto wins. McGuidwin’s 2-1 gave him the OA win over Manhire’s 1-2. Cameron Heckman (Yam) collected third place with a 3-3 posting.
When the Minis lined up on the gate for their race, moms and dads standing trackside and fans in the stands were in for a treat. Everyone watched the little ones roll around the track. A chorus of oohh’s and aahh’s was repeated each time the riders rolled up and over some of the bigger obstacles. Jeremy Lacy on a 65cc KTM found himself in a fine battle with 85cc Suzuki rider Christian Garcia. Both won their respective classes, with Taft Buckeye taking second in the 65cc class on another KTM. The 50cc Pee Wee class was a hoot as Xander Winter took the OA with a 1-1 score. Younger brother Riddick Winter took second with a fine 2-2. He had the help of a couple flagmen who got him through the deeper ruts that threatened to swallow the lad!
The vet classes had a good showing of strong racers. In the 25 Novice class it was Neo Vargas (Yam) going 1-1 over Pat Fowler (Hon) with a 2-2. The 35 Novice class saw Sean Gutierrez take 1st overall (1-1) on his Suzuki while the 40 Intermediate class went to Brian Ratliff, 2-1 (Yam) over Josh Heckman (Suz) with a 1-2 finish for second. The 40 Novice class was swept by Danny Fonteyn on his Yamaha with a win in both motos, and Tom Baker (Kaw) took the 45 Intermediate class with a 1-1 finish. A very fast Kevin Barda took the 45 Expert class on a Suzuki. However, Kevin’s 2-stroke ‘Suzi refused to run for the second moto, so a borrowed 450 Honda did the trick giving him 1-1 finish. The 50 Expert class was won by Dan Berg, taking both motos aboard his Honda. Dan is a former multi-time CMC champion from the glory days of motocross in the 1980s. The 50 Novices had a wild pair of motos with the largest number of entrants on the gate that evening. After Ron Verbeek took both hole-shots, he checked out and went 1-1 for the overall win on his Kaw. Ronnie Gillespie got a good start, but also had some “help” from a fellow rider and spun out in the second turn. Frankie Buckeye (Hon) took second from Ron and kept it for both motos. Gillespie finished 3-3 for 3rd, with Ron Boozell coming home 4th on his KTM.
The highlight of the evening was surely the Pro class and its lone entrant, Justin Jones, ridding his Team RPM-Bonanza Plumbing KTM 450XC-F. The bike was set up for the WORCS off-road race series. Justin is competing in the Pro class and doing quite well against the full factory efforts competing in that series. For the iMOTO MX night race, he didn’t change much of anything on the bike. He simply put a little gas in that big cross-country tank, and proceeded to hold a clinic. The fastest guys in the expert classes couldn’t hope to keep him in sight as he lapped the entire field. The big KTM would bark huge power as Jones soared over the dragon-back triple and took the rollers three at a time. It was quite a sight! It made you wonder what he would have done on a dedicated mx bike. But that wasn’t the point. He is using the night series as training. Speaking with him on the starting line before the second moto, he was very enthusiastic about the night’s racing and the track. For him, the course was “intense” and “makes me focus at a higher level. And it’s fun!” His last statement said it all. He was getting in some great training, to be sure, but most importantly he was having a blast!
This was the first race in the I-MOTO MX “Under the Lights” night series. Coming events will be held on June 29th, July 6th and 20th, Aug 3rd and 24th. If you have never raced a night event, or remember what it was like back in the days of Corona Raceway, Lions, Ascot and OCIR, come and join the fun. Also, the spectating is awesome for the whole family. For more information check out the iMOTO MX web site, or pull up Glen Helen on the web for more track info.
One thing is for sure, night SX-style racing is here at Glen Helen, and it is a blast!