’01 National Opener: Judgment Day At Glen Helen

For the last four years, Glen Helen has acted as Judgment Day for our sport’s heroes. Though it doesn’t always accurately foreshadow what is to come in the grueling, 12-race-long AMA/Chevy Trucks National Championship Series, there is no venue on the calendar that generates quite as much hype as the opening round in San Bernardino, California.

Located in the heartland of the motocross industry, a victory at Glen Helen is probably the most sought-after win of the year. This is the place where every rider, mechanic and team manager in the industry finds out if all of their hard work and preparation will pay off in the upcoming season, and it also serves as a gauge for the rest of the world to see who is going fast and who isn’t. With pressure and expectations high, 20,000 screaming fans watched the best riders in the world scrap it out on the long, hilly Southern California circuit, and when the dust finally cleared, an unexpected victor and a rookie rider pulled upset wins to kick the season off with a bang. Tim Ferry rode to a smooth, consistent-yet-blazing-fast overall victory in the premier 250cc class aboard his YZ426F, while U.S. series rookie Grant Langston spanked the field in the 125cc class in convincing fashion, taking both moto wins against crowd favorite Travis Pastrana.

This early in the season, neither of these wins means that much in terms of the big picture, and sure, the series is far from over, but the two surprise victories from Ferry and Langston will hopefully be a good indication of what’s to come this year. Tight battles and unexpected wins help make the U.S. outdoor season the most anticipated series in motocross, and with eleven more races in the hot, humid days of summer, the anxiety and excitement have only just begun.