For Tom Ostrem, his nearing retirement won’t mean endless weekends of reclined relaxation, it will mean racing. The 59-year-old who is “on the verge” of retirement from Ostrem Chemical in Edmonton, Alberta, was given his first mini bike on his 13th birthday and has been in love with two-wheeled speed ever since.
A long-standing member of the Alberta OldTimers Motocross Association (AOTMX), Ostrem is now in the 50+ Master Class and usually finds a way to race at least once a week whether it’s on his KTM 250 at AOTMX races or his Yamaha TZ250 at road races.
“I just like to compete,” Ostrem said. “I don’t want to practise, I just want to race. It’s just more exciting when you’re racing someone.”
Tom Ostrem aboard his KTM 250 at AOTMX's track in Westlock, AB. — Photo courtesy of the Alberta OldTimers Motocross Association
AOTMX, which started out in the ’70s as a group of friends who were always on the road together, has since grown exponentially and now has 300 members and two race tracks that are available to members 24 hours a day. Fifteen years ago AOTMX decided that because of the increase in membership the association should start a full-season series of races based on a points system. Now, there are 15 races each year with riders from all different ages and classes competing just for the enjoyment of it.
“There’s no money involved,” Ostrem said. “It’s strictly for fun and at the end of the year we have a big banquet and give out trophies. I’d be surprised if anyone even had a sponsored bike.”
While AOTMX prefers riders to be over 30 there are always exceptions to the rule, the most common of which is family. Although the main classes are 50+, 60+, 70+ and 80+, there are always people who have kids and cousins.
“That’s what we always struggle with—how many people we can let ride who are under 30,” said Ostrem. “We do have the best tracks so I can see why everyone wants to join us.”
As is the case with the entire club, for Ostrem the race weekends are all about family, fun and speed. When the two-day series races occur most people camp and as Saturday night rolls around the tales around the campfire get grander and taller because, in the interest of entertainment, facts should never get in the way of a good story.
Next year Ostrem will be the young buck in the 60+ Master Class and once retirement hits he plans on traveling the West Coast to compete in some international Old Timers races.
When asked why he likes it so much, his answer is simple: “It’s just a fun sport. With all the jumps and things you have to get your courage up a bit and I like that challenge.”