The back of Glen Helen Raceway is best known as the “REM Motocross Track,” and nearly every Saturday the dedicated Vet classes of Southern California take to the course for 20 minute motos. Built much like what they spent their early years riding, the prep and sheer number of bikes turn the track into a choppy circuit that challenges even the best racers, without any jaw-dropping leaps or risky obstacles. Just before the start of each Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the promoters at REM Motocross lure some of the sport’s fastest to the line by upping the Pro divisions to 30 minute motos, so we headed out last weekend to catch Shane McElrath and Zach Bell run with the weekend warriors.
McElrath and Bell overcame small issues in the day, as McElrath was shuffled deep in the first moto after a poor start and Bell crashed following an issue with a lapper in moto two. But the incredible speed and racing talent both displayed by running against each other and through the Intermediate class (which hit the track on a second gate-drop) proves the young racers are ready for the long summer ahead.
Weekend Warrior | Zach Bell
Healing from the latest injury and the required time off…
“Everything is going good. I’ve had a good offseason of training with my trainer Gavin Gracyk. I came out here to get a little bit of preparation in before the National and it was all going good until the second moto. I think I got into the lappers on the second lap and one cut over on me and took me out. Other than that, it’s been a good day.”
“It’s really good to come out, get on the starting line, and get your feet wet. Shane (McElrath) was riding awesome today and the track was rough, so you had to be smooth to do what you needed to do.”
“My collarbone healed up in like a week, but they actually cut some muscles from the top of my collarbone and that took longer than anything. It was about a two and a half month process, and four months until my shoulder felt completely good. I’m just looking forward to the Nationals.”
“I’ve been on the bike again for two months now and it has been solid time. I wanted to come out here to show that I am strong and can be in the front. It was good in the first moto, but not the second.”
Training in Florida with Gavin Gracyk compared to California…
“I like it a lot better staying back at home. I have my own facility with four tracks and the weather is a lot hotter there, so it is good to train in the humidity. These West Coast Nationals are pretty hot also, but it is dry and you have to be used to everything.”
“Gavin is a good guy and trainer, and there is no quitting when we are in the gym or on the track. He has helped me out a lot and can’t think him enough.”
Coming back after injury, expectations for the summer, and contract talks for 2015…
“Putting 15 years in it, I’m not going to quit now. It’s always time to put your head down and keep looking forward. You can’t bring the negatives in, because it will only bring bad vibes. I’m just going to let it go and do more motos.”
“Right now my speed is good and my fitness is a lot better than last year. I just want to be in the top ten for every race, because last year coming in with a shoulder injury and not knowing what was wrong with it, I couldn’t do much. But this year I am strong and ready to go.”
“We have to wait util the end of the Nationals. The last few years have been rough and I haven’t been able to catch a break. But I want to land on the podium and show that I’m the guy to beat.”