Everything you’ve ever heard about Southwick is true. Yes, it is located smack-dab in the middle of a modest Massachusetts town. Yes, the fans are rowdy and most of them have the accent of the region. Yes, the top layer of sand gets very rough and serves as a cover over a very hard, slick base that challenges riders during every single lap. Yes, it’s worth making the trip to see it in person.
This visit to The Wick 338 was a special one, as it was the first time that the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship had visited the Northeast since 2019. We could tell that everyone was happy to be back at the track, because the turnout of fans (thousands of people were crammed into the tree-lined hole) and riders (87 in the 450 Class, 87 in the 250 Class) was one of the biggest we’ve seen since, well, you know.
Have a look at what caught our eye or piqued our interest.
Shoutout to the Southwick track crew. Remnants of the hurricane that hammered the East Coast made it to Massachusetts on Thursday and dumped inches of rain before finally stopping on Friday afternoon. There've been plenty of the wet Southwick races over the years (2011 immediately comes to mind), so the team knew what to do during their overnight shift and fixed the washed-out areas and wet spots in time for Saturday's first practice.
J.Y.D.? Yeah, that skid steer belongs to John Dowd, who took his factory paychecks and invested them in heavy equipment. If you're in the Northeast and need some work done, contact J.Y.D. Excavation.
We caught Kenny Day in the middle of his pre-race prep on Friday afternoon, which includes goggle service for Ken Roczen and Adam Cianciarulo. Fox Racing's road rig has everything a rider would need at the track, from complete gear sets to spare parts for boots or helmets, which are all perfectly organized in the drawers and cabinets. We've plugged it before, but search for the video tour KDay gave us earlier this year to see the inside of the van.
The Bell Helmets work area in the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki pit is sano. Hidden underneath the custom-cut tablecloth are two fans that can dry the sweaty interior liners between sessions on the track.
Multiple SKUs from the Renthal catalog on Austin Forkner's KX250. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider has a standard half-waffle on his throttle...
And a full waffle that's custom cut, complete with a grip donut, on the left side of the bars.
Can you have too much titanium? Olly Stone doesn't think so. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki mechanic's T-handles are made by British brand SuperLite and fit perfectly with the nuts and bolts on your bike. Interested in getting a set of the Ti spanners? Hit up Olly on Instagram @olly_stone
Kaliub Russell's outdoor season has been rough, but we have to give the eight-time GNCC champion some credit for trying to race MX on the 250 SX-F. Not only is the small-bore bike completely different than what he ran for years in the woods, but due to injury, he had a limited time on it before the season started. This is somewhat of a new project for Red Bull KTM, too, because the orange team outsourced their US 250 programs to TLD for years and are working on dialing in the bike for both Russell and Vohland.
Southwick's sand means more fuel consumption. The 450 wing of Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha swapped out their standard outdoor tanks for a much larger unit that would supply them with enough gas to get them to the end of the Moto. What's so special about this one? It's the stock tank from Yamaha's WR450F off-road bike!
Surprisingly, Star Racing was able to stay with their "standard" (but still slightly larger) CRM Karbotanks on the 250 bikes for the weekend.
The red K.Y.B. stickers look good with the red plate, huh? It sounds like the suspension setup of the Star Racing YZ450F bikes are a bit different; Ferrandis runs a full air fork while Plessinger and Craig prefer the spring-air combo that K.Y.B. offers at the factory level.
Filter skins are a must at sand races. You might not see the thin fabric sheets, but trust us, they were used in various ways at The 'Wick, including as a screen over the holes of the GASGAS-Husqvarna-KTM side panels.
Mesh screens and coarse foam are two must-haves for radiators in Pro Motocross.
Coty Schock's FXR/Chaparral/Honda was complete with the latest iteration of ARC's clutch and front brake system at Southwick. The ARC pieces are a full replacement of the Nissin units that come stock on the CRF and allow the rider to fine-tune the feeling through different internal pistons.
The ARC units are complete with a pivoting unbreakable lever and protective covers against flying rocks and roost.
Can't believe that we have to show this, but yes, Eli's Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450 features the same radiator-oil cooler combo/hydraulic clutch setup/electronic components and other assorted pieces that we showed on AC's bike in the RedBud Kickstart. This is the last we will mention of this insanity, and if you have further doubts, seek help.
Hearing Luke Renzland rip a 125 around the smooth sands of Southwick first thing on Saturday morning was a treat. Renzland was 22nd fastest overall in the Timed Qualifying results (a perk of being in the B Group, no doubt) and held the premix-burner wide open in 250 Moto One, only to have the engine let go on the way back to the pits after the race. Look for Renzland at the three remaining East Coast events (Unadilla, Budds Creek, Ironman).
We were introduced to Andrew Boccarossa on Friday afternoon and sat down with the NESC rider for a Privateer Power interview. A second-year pro with a full-time job cleaning out foreclosed homes for renovation, Boccarossa told us what the Southwick National is like for a local and hyped up the "Banch" video project he put out with Jared Conley for In A World Of Echo. Search "Andrew Boccarossa" on YouTube to see both videos.
First tracks on the Southwick sand for Justin Cooper. Look at the paddle tire dig into the sand, how Cooper gripped the bike at the pegs with his lower legs, and that the hub sticker was centered in the middle of the wheel's rotation.
Cooper's custom paint. Good message for a helmet, too, because you never want to have your head run over...
If you see one, the other is probably close by.
You'd be smiling too if you and your rider were in the middle of a career-best summer.
Chris Canning represented the NESC well at Southwick. A weekly rider at the famed sand track, Canning put in 14-14 finishes for an impressive 14th overall and was the highest finishing privateer in the 450 Class. The Connecticut rider has lined up for six Motos this summer (High Point/RedBud/Southwick) and told us that increased support from some new sponsors will help him travel more Nationals over the next few weeks. He is currently ranked 21st in the championship standings and should end the summer with enough points to earn a two-digit number for 2022.
How was your first Pro Motocross, Brandon Gregoire? The RAK Racing-backed privateer was one of the 87 riders who signed up for the 450 Class at Southwick.
Adam Cianciarulo knows that this summer will not be as good as last year, something the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider has made peace with. On Friday, AC explained the nerve issues he's dealing with in his right arm to us and said that it causes him to lose grip strength late in the Moto, which is especially tedious on his throttle hand. With the help of riding coach Nick Wey, Cianciarulo has made minor adjustments to his technique on the bike (look ahead, grip with his legs) and went 5-6 for sixth overall.
How well does a rear tire work on this? Yeah, the tread plate has a little bit of grip, but we have to think that a fast-spinning scoop tire doesn't hook up well with the light dusting of sand over the top.
A photo of a photographer taking a photo of a photographer.
What can we write about RJ Hampshire's recent races that hasn't been said already? The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider is one of the fastest guys in the 250 Class, evident in his lap times through Qualifying and the Motos, but crashes of all types have kept him from finishing as well as he could. Fortunately for Hampshire, it seems like these recent rides and his RedBud overall win have been enough to earn a new contract for 2022.
Michael Mosiman's summer has been equally up and down as RJ. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider has missed points due to bike problems and entire races due to practice crashes (he told us a concussion is what sidelined him at High Point), but when he's going, he's usually near the front. Mosiman led five laps in 250 Moto One and posted the second-fastest lap of that race before small mistakes dropped him down to seventh.
There's been a lot of talk about Austin Forkner lately, particularly about his future at Kawasaki in light of Eli's looming departure. Although rumors are circulating that he will be part of a three-rider squad on the 450 at the factory team next year, we've been told directly by people involved in his program that he will stay in the 250 Class with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki for 2022.
Three-way fight for first place.
Connecticut racer Joseph Tait knows first-hand that Southwick's sand tends to get everywhere.
Jett Lawrence had a rough go in 250 Moto One. The incoming championship leader was off the lead group early in the race, something he chalked up to a poor start and spent much of his time working through the pack. Things were going okay until a late-race high-speed run-in with Jalek Swoll put the Team Honda HRC rider on the ground (a second tip-over moments later added to the frustration). Lawrence ditched his goggles after the incident, a bold move at Southwick, and squinted his way to the finish line.
Weekly Ryan Surratt shoutout. The Team AllSouth rider stayed East between RedBud and Southwick, hit a few practice tracks, and drove to Massachusetts in his van for the fifth round of the summer. The first-turn pile-up in 450 Moto Two ripped most of the grip off of his throttle tube, but he kept going and finished in 27th. Bummer on the lack of points, but respect the effort.
We wondered for a while what would happen if Dylan Ferrandis got a start. Well, he showed everyone in 450 Moto One. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was at the front of the pack from the moment the gate dropped, took over the lead before the end of Lap One, and darted away from the other 39-riders in a dominant 15-lap run to the checkered flag.
Aaron Plessinger was just as fast as ever at Southwick. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was in the mix early in 450 Moto One, only to have slight mistakes allow Ferrandis and Barcia pass him for positions, but he regrouped and rode to a third-place result. Unfortunately, a bike issue on the opening lap of 450 Moto Two cut his day short (it sounds like something happened to the engine during a precautionary mid-day swap) and resulted in his first DNF of the summer. As for the KTM-Yamaha bidding war, it sounds like Austria might come out ahead in this one.
Justin Barcia got his breakthrough ride at Southwick. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider was one of the fastest guys in the 450 Class through both Motos (he was one of three riders to do a 2:17 time in Moto One) and 2-4 finishes put him third overall on the day for his first podium of the summer. After the race Barcia told us that he's enjoying the working process with the TLD/RB/GG team, that learning the new bike is a fun challenge, and that he expects to end his career with the group. Just guessing, but we hope for another year or two from BamBam.
Are AC and KR training partners again? Roczen posted a clip of Cianciarulo after a practice moto earlier this week in what appeared to be the workshop of the Moto Sandboxx. Hmm.
How's that Husqvarna 250 engine? Hampshire's start makes it look like they've found a little more power.
Garrett Marchbanks has never made it this far into the summer series. That sounds wild, but all three years of his pro career have been hampered by injuries (High Point two years in a row, last year's knee damage in SLC), and he's just now putting in laps at places like RedBud and Southwick. A DNF in 250 Moto One was a blemish on the day for the CLUBMX rider, though he regrouped to post a ninth-place result in 250 Moto Two and ended up 14th overall. Keep an eye on him at Spring Creek and Washougal.
SML Super Fans, Southwick edition. Once again, thanks to everyone that's spotted us at the races this summer and for your support.
Things are coming together for Colt Nichols. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider told us that he expected to win right away (hard to argue with the new 250 East Coast SX champ) but had a wake-up call when the gate dropped and he was off the pace at round one. The recent move to Tallahassee has helped Nichols find the speed and form needed to run near the front and 4-5 finishes at Southwick put him 5th overall on the day, his best result so far this summer.
It's getting close between these two. Justin Cooper didn't have the best day at Southwick, partly due to a crash and charge in 250 Moto One, but the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider closed the gap in standings between himself and Lawrence with a second-place result in 250 Moto Two. There are now just three points separating the young rivals as we hit the halfway point of the tour.
The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team is still working out all of the details to the new KX250, an effort that was undoubtedly slowed by part shortages and various shutdowns over the past year. Although the last few seasons haven't been the best for PC, it sounds like they're making progress for 2022 and beyond with ongoing development of the motorcycle (the stock KX won our 250 Shootout) and a roster of riders who are proven winners (Shimoda signed a recent contract extension, Hammaker stays, Forkner has one year left, etc.).
It's cool to see how Jo Shimoda's fanbase has grown this season. There was little buzz about Shimoda coming into the season, as some even questioned why Pro Circuit picked him up, but his Main Event in Utah, consistent finishes, and ever-improving speed make him one of the top prospects in the 250 Class going forward. Although he still might not believe it, he's already among the best Japanese MX riders in history.
Webb and Roczen together at the front? For a minute, we thought like we were back at the Monster Energy Supercross Series. As for Cooper, his long-rumored split from the Baker's Factory has finally been confirmed (we first mentioned it back in the Spring), and he is now the latest addition to the 83 Compound. Can a new training program and further fine-tuning of the 450 SX-F get him on the podium in the last half of the season?
Marvin Musquin didn't have the day we expected at Southwick (he won the overall in 2019), but we wouldn't call it a complete bust. The Red Bull KTM rider's lap times in both Motos were some of the fastest and most consistent of the 450 Class (2:19.003 in Moto One, 2:19.566 in Moto Two) and his 10-7 results earned him eighth overall. These next few tracks tend to suit Marvin's riding style...
Bar-to-bar battles and capacity crowds. It's been a hell of a summer so far.
We don't want to brag too much about seeing Eli Tomac's 450 Moto Two run because many of you didn't catch that 2:16 lap time, but wow, it was something. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider was admittedly off the mark in 450 Moto One, made a bike adjustment that he says helped but wasn't the cure (Kawi PR mentioned moving his forks in the clamps), and clawed his way from seventh to first in nine laps during 450 Moto Two. Some of the lines that Tomac used were impressive, as he either expertly plotted his way through the tight-smooth sections or went all-out around the outside edges and over the bumps. He's still down more than 50 points, yes, but ET will be the it factor to watch out for during the second half of the Pro Motocross season.
Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.
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