From its origin in 1999, the Glen Helen 24 endurance race became one of the most grueling 1440 minutes of consistent punishment to body and machine. Factory teams came to this race to prove that not only their riders and teams are the best, but their bikes can take the brutal beating of terrain and abuse from their riders. It was the highest honor to win the 24-hour and prove whose strategy and motorcycle could prevail. As years passed, the 24-hour hasn’t changed that much; fewer factory entries but an increasing amount of blue-collar classes have picked up the lack of the pro teams and created equal amounts of excitement and pride in racing.
For 2022 the 3-Bros 24-Hour proved that a solid working motorcycle, a group of talented riders, and experience will out-duel problematic motorcycles. This recipe was more than true; the fielded Honda riders that made up this year’s glory were SLR’s Cole Martinez, Jack Simpson, JCR Honda’s Ryan Surratt, and even amateur factory star Chance Hymas. It was a push by Honda clear to prove that the winningest motorcycle of the Glen Helen 24-hour race is the CRF450X. This year’s tale was much like years past, seeing the 3-Bros/Kilmartin KTM team get to the front early on. The team, made up of Jake Alveraz, Nick Stover, Colton Aeck, and RJ Wageman, showed early speed as the race trekked on. They, however, were pressured by the past champions; Trevor Hunter brought a team of consistency to the table, Clayton Roberts, Tyler Belknap, and Cole Zellar.
Roberts opened up the early laps for the team, known for his speed as a desert ace. The course would suit his expertise and showed early on, pressuring the early leaders. The SLR Honda team would easily open their laps, almost as if they had a strategy. They never were eager to get to the front, and each rider who would get on rode the bike softly, never pushing it too hard, almost riding the motorcycle as if they were breaking it in. The Hunter team was the first to experience a faulty bike; the group soon discovered that their YZ450FX had blown a water pump seal that triggered a head gasket, ultimately forcing them to retire. The Honda team soon found themselves in a short-lived battle with Stovers Kilmartin’s bike; an early pass saw the Honda team take the lead and never fall back. The Kilmartin bike never lost too much time but could never pressure the Honda team into any honest mistakes. As the lights came out and the night fell, Honda only progressively moved forward. About halfway through, the Kilmartin team would suffer its final blow, forcing them to retire.
As the race started to unfold at the top, the Vet race became the weekend’s excitement. The boys at San Diego Powerhouse and SLR Honda brought a power group of 30+ Expert riders who saw past Baja champions Mark Samuels, Justin Morgan, and Brandon Prieto. As that team had a stack of past winners, so did the second 30+ team, the AHM Factory Services led by owner Brandon Peterson. Peterson himself would properly find his riders, 5-time Baja Champion and 7-time 24-hour overall winner Colton Udall, Baja Champion, and multi-24-hour champion Justin Jones, along with a heap of guys whom all could hold their own. Both teams would see them on CRF450X machines and an actual test between old teammates.
The AHM team would strike first, open up a cushion over the field, and see them up into the top 3 early on. Petersons team would lead the team of Young until the early hours of Sunday morning when there was a sudden trend of blistering lap times coming from the SD Powerhouse team of Young. At times the SD powerhouse team had over a minute faster laps than the AHM boys, which confused most initially. Known for his exceptional night skills, Justin Morgan started to put in longer durations which led the team back into the lead. The AHM team soon would see their lead fall and trail by almost 8 minutes with 2-hours to go.
As strategy seemed to be the common theme and the fight for first became more set in stone, the team of Peterson would strike back. AHM started cutting their initial rider cycle, throwing on their aces to finish and trickling back the time lost throughout the night. Justin Jones and Colton Udall began to put the late race charge on against the team of Samuels and Young, which saw the 8-minute cushion trickle to less than one minute to a blistering Jones and Udall duo. The SD Powerhouse team noticed what was starting to unfold in front of them and had to counter their ridership with experience.
Mark Samuels would hop on the bike for its final stint while Petersons’ team kept the fast-pacing Udall. The remaining laps would see Udall cut the lead to striking distance to Samuel’s effort, the two would match each-others pace, and both have to battle lap riders and the beat-up terrain that the 24-hour presented. When the checker was flown, the team of SD Powerhouse would take the win by a mere 7-seconds to the AHM team, both collecting 2nd and 3rd overall.
Concluding the racing, the top three overall motorcycles were all built CRF450X motorcycles which made it a Honda sweep of the weekend’s overall podium. The series of 6, 10, and 24-hour wrapped up in an epic finale that saw many teams collect championships for this year’s hard work and sets the tone for next year’s fun.