The sand of Southwick awaits Ama Motocross riders


It grinds away at chains, gears and bearings, it saps the horsepower from motocross bikes and the strength of the riders, it gives fans the opportunity to watch some of the most extreme lean angles riders will experience all season and the deep and loamy ruts it forms make for perhaps the roughest track in America. We’re talking about the infamous sand of Southwick, Mass., the principal feature riders will face this Sunday, June 12, when round three of the AMA Motocross Championship Presented by FMF rolls into the scenic wooded setting of Motocross 338 – the track named for the American Legion Post that owns the property on which it sits.

Considered one of the most unique racing circuits in all of motocross, Southwick is a track that some riders thrive on, while others simply try to endure. Being 100 percent fit is a prerequisite if a competitor expects to do well at Southwick and the skills required to ride fast in Southwick’s rugged sandbox have provided surprise winners over the years.
Local New England heroes Doug Henry and John Dowd have both won AMA nationals at their home track. Danny Smith and Craig Anderson scored their one and only victories in surprise wins in the 125 class at Southwick. But of all the great riders who have raced at the famous motocross circuit in its 30-plus year history, none have mastered the Southwick sand like Ricky Carmichael.

Carmichael has won a record five consecutive AMA 250 Motocross Championship races at Southwick dating back to 2000. He also scored a pair of 125 wins there in the late 1990s. Carmichael comes into this year’s race with a solid points lead and he’s looking to extend that lead even further with an unprecedented sixth win at “The Wick”.

“I really enjoy racing at Southwick,” said Carmichael, who will attempt to give Suzuki its first 250 win at Southwick in 24 years. “I grew up in Florida racing on a lot of sand tracks so it doesn’t bother me. It’s definitely one of the toughest tracks we race on and it really shows who’s been doing their training.”

Carmichael faced a serious challenge from defending AMA 125 Motocross Champion James Stewart in round two of the series in Mt. Morris, Pa. Instead of being concerned about being tested by Stewart, Carmichael sounded delighted after the Mt. Morris battle that the two put on such a good show.

“It’s fun,” Carmichael said of his race with Stewart. “I know the fans like it and I like it as an athlete. That’s what it’s all about in our sport is having strong competition. It brings out the best in you as a rider.”
Stewart is the defending Southwick 125 winner and this will be his first time on the track riding a Kawasaki KX250. “I’m pumped about racing at Southwick again,” said Stewart, who is still recovering from a thumb injury suffered during the AMA Supercross season. “Ricky goes good there and I do too. My thumb should be close to 100 percent by then since we have a week off. I’m going to give it my best and we’ll see how it goes.”

Local aces Doug Henry and John Dowd are both expected to race at Southwick this year. Henry has largely retired from national motocross competition to concentrate on the burgeoning AMA Supermoto Championship, but the Torrington, Conn., rider enjoys making his annual appearance at his home track, where he won three nationals. Dowd, a two-time Southwick winner, is back racing in America after spending a season in the Canadian Motocross Championships. Dowd scored a top-10 finish in Mt. Morris and comes to Southwick ranked 12th in the standings, not too shabby for a rider who turns 40 this summer.

Yamaha teammates David Vuillemin and Chad Reed are battling for second in the 250 standings. Both are seeking their first win at Southwick.

Mike Brown is the 125 series leader coming into this Sunday’s race, but his luck at Southwick hasn’t been the best over the years. In his eight Southwick 125 National starts Brown has scored only a single podium, a second-place finish to Travis Pastrana in 2001. The 32-year-old Brown is trying to hold off up-and-coming younger riders such as Mike Alessi and Broc Hepler, who are second and third in the series respectively.  Brownie” is hoping to win his first race at Southwick and give Honda its fist 125 victory there since 1996.

Danny Smith is slated to be the only former winner in the 125 field on Sunday. The Idaho native is ranked tenth in the standings and is hoping to make a big jump with a strong result at one of his favorite tracks.
The AMA Motocross Championship race from Southwick will be nationally televised on OLN.

For ticket information call (413) 569-6801 or visit the website

Info Ama Pro Racing, photo copyright TFS


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