Glen Helen Raceway once again hosted the 2021 Dubya USA World Vet Championships over the weekend. Atlas Brace’s Ryan “The Newf” Lockhart made the trip from Canada to race the event and our Kris Keefer and Steve Matthes both competed again in the annual event, so we asked the trio to give us their thoughts on this year’s event.
So now that’s it’s done, what’s your thoughts on your own two days of racing at the World Vets. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Ryan Lockhart: First of all, I was excited for the opportunity to attend in 2022 as I have always wanted to go since turning 30. I knew the track was going to be extremely rough and tough as this kind of being the first year that people could actually travel again due to COVID-19. My preparation was not at an all-time high but all in all I was happy with my performance. Some may say that I rode the wrong class (lol) but I think riding Expert classes was the right thing to do for year number one and if I was to come back for 2022 getting some riding in on the Keefer Program might help. Helping get Canada on the podium in the Vet Motocross of Nations was special for sure even though there are still a few questions to be asked about Team Guam.
kris Keefer: I had a great time despite what you think, Steve. Yes, there were some weird moments, but as you know I am from the high desert, so it takes A LOT, I mean A LOT to get me riled up or concerned about how much of a shit show a race was/is. I do think this race still has nostalgia and is important to our industry. I know a lot of people drive long distances to come to this race and for the most part, everyone I have talked to had a great time. I also had a blast hanging/racing with my buddies, as well as meeting other moto enthusiasts. I just love racing dirt bikes as you know, and it takes a lot for me to get me up in arms. Another great part was that I won, so that make me less angry, right? I do hate hearing that a rider lost his life in practice on Friday. I was there last year for practice before the Vet race on a Thursday and another gentlemen lost his life so I am tired of hearing/seeing bad things happen. Two days of racing turns out to be a long weekend when you got to go test again on a Monday! I wish I had a one-day race!
Steve Matthes: Well, it was a lot of sitting around and long days, that’s for sure. I’m not sure I’ve ever unloaded in the complete dark before and then left the track at 6 p.m. There are a ton of riders at this event and the guys at GH are trying to get through them and honestly, that’s a real challenge for any promoter. I’m gonna get all sappy here like Keefer but to me, the best part of the days is the hanging out between your motos with a bunch of buddies. Never mind the results (unless you’re a great rider like Keefer), the laughs are what you remember from the weekend. And maybe the chaos of the race itself, just when you think you’ve seen it all, an ambulance crosses the track in the middle of the race or a water main breaks.
Obviously, we talked a lot about the organization of the race on the PulpMX Show on Monday afterwards. Looking back on it, what did we get right and/or anything we got wrong?
Lockhart: I think we might have been a little over the top on some of the things but there is no question that a little bit of organization would of went a long way. We were spot on with the staging and practice format as it was a gong show but might have been a little off on the actual “Caring” of the GH crew. I feel now that a few weeks have past that maybe they were caught off guard of the amount of entries that showed up but just throw more people at it, SOUNDS EASY, RIGHT? Get the practice stickers. Get some advice or input from other racers on the schedule etc. It sounds like they have their ears open and especially with John Anderson from Dubya USA being a huge part of the event I feel that they will make changes for the better in 2022 to improve the quality and safety of the event. Personally, I would like to see the event be spread out over three days. Practice Friday, moto one Saturday and moto two Sunday. I feel this would give the GH crew more time for track prep, consistency in the moto length and make everything run a little smoother. I still had fun and will be back in 2022.
Keefer: I think it could be more organized for sure, but from my POV I don’t think it was as bad as maybe Matthes or Newf thought. I know that ambulances on the track while we race, a herd of riders in staging and maybe the 30 Pro race with the 50 Pro 125 guys on the same track sounded pretty bad, and it was. However, it’s something that can be fixed, and I really think it will be now that there was more stink about it on the show. The Plus 50 125 rider that crashed with Mike Alessi is luckily going to be okay and I really think Glen Helen will do better in 2022. I want to believe this! I feel like 2020 ran smoothly when we were there. The weather was crap but the event was fine. The 2020 event ran pretty smoothly besides the cutting of laps and change of track in the middle of second motos, but it was ran like a typical local race in my eyes. Steve and Newf are not at local California races so to me this is all normal. I do think the RMX Series is one of the best ran events around, but too bad they are located in Arizona, Utah and Idaho. RMX seems to do it really well with everything being ran on time, appropriate amount of laps, classes, etc. It’s a rare thing to have an event be ran completely smooth, but the RMX series seems to have it figured out well. Even our local Swap Moto Race Series is ran pretty well, but even they have some shortcoming at times.
Matthes: I stand by what I said on the show, if the promoters just thought a little bit about rider safety, practice order, race order and staging, the event itself would be a lot better. They have so many entries, they’re behind the eight ball right from the drop of the first practice gate (of which there are 150 riders on the track because there’s no actual practice order). Waiting for your race was massively confusing, gate selection, the number of laps, the two practice days before, if they just checked driver’s licenses to make sure you’re even eligible for the class you signed up in, that would help. Maybe stretch it out and add a day to the event to make everything more manageable or how about taking an hour out of both days to groom the track, we’re vet riders with jobs, not everyone is in amazing shape. Everything at the World Vets seems to revolve around making a buck and not concerned with how the event is run, in my opinion.
Note: Strong language is used, viewer discretion is advised.
The GH track is iconic for sure, what did you think about it and how do you describe it to anyone who asked?
Lockhart: I think Keefer would agree with me on this one, that everyone who loves to ride dirt bikes should experience GH. The elevation and the weirdo dirt are crazy to describe. I have been riding dirt bikes for over 30 years and the choppy square edge bumps that the track develops are just wild, haha. Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun but like I said it’s and experience. Keefer was talking about the GHB (Glen Helen Back) is the real deal. My body was sore in places it’s never been before after three days of riding.
Keefer: GH is unlike any place I have ever gone to and even though I absolutely get burned out on it and a hate it at times, I love the track as a whole. It challenges me, takes strength as well as a lot of thought process to go fast at GH. The traction is not at an optimal level everywhere and that’s what is challenging. You will literally have traction before the corners, then have zero traction when leaning into the corner and then have traction half-way down the straight. It forces you to read the terrain more than other tracks I have ridden. When Michael Willard comes back to ride at GH, he can’t believe how careful he has to tip toe around corners unlike his hero ruts he has back in Ohio. Another thing that is weird at the World Vets is that the braking bumps start so much earlier coming into corners. Seems like old dudes like to brake much sooner for the corner, so you literally have braking bumps half way down the straight that should have ZERO bumps! I did think the World Vets layout was better in most areas, but they needed to build berm options in certain corners to help with passing.
Matthes: Keefer’s right, there’s no place like GH. The bumps, the square edges, the hills: it’s pretty iconic for sure. You constantly feel like your front end is gonna wash out and it gets so rough and choppy, you feel like your forks have two by fours in them. I do wish they would run straight up Mt. St. Helen like they have before, that’s a cool feeling going up there as your front end starts coming up and your bike starts slowing down. Coming down the hill is a lesson in bravery! The first turn is pretty cool also, all in all I think that’s why people on the PulpMX Show kept saying that yes, we were right about the organization but yes, they’ll also be back that next year. There’s no track like Glen Helen.
Main image by Moose Media