Rev-Up: Mid Summer Rhapsody

June 15, 2006 12:19pm | by:

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev-Up. One of my favorite pieces of journalism from last year was Jason Weigandt’s race report from High Point. To be honest, I can’t remember any details of this always-insightful scribe's article, but I remember the most important part. It’s what made the article so great. It was simply the first sentence, and it read, “Outdoor motocross is alive and well.” You’re damn right it is. Last weekend, I was able to experience my second outdoor national in three weeks. Coming off of the incredible High Point extravaganza, I went into Southwick with modest expectations, although I had wanted to visit this venue since I was a young boy and was extremely eager to finally lay my eyes and feet upon the sacred sand of Motocross 338. At the conclusion of my weekend, I was filled with memories that disintegrated my previously mellow expectations and rewarded my heart with the motivation you will hopefully feel when you reach the bottom of this page. Please join me on my walk around Southwick last Sunday and stay with me as I rev you up for the weekend that awaits us at Budd Creek.

It was cloudy and drizzling as I arrived at the track Friday afternoon. Racer X Brand manager Mike Farber and I set up the Racer X tent, and while doing so I could not help but be distracted by the presence of the historic track that was merely 20 yards from my location. Upon completion of the tent I journeyed down through the thick woods to get my first look at the track. What met my eyes brought an incredible urge to throw my gear on, climb on a 450, and lay waste to the virgin sand. But I fought through that with the knowledge that within laps, the track would be so rough that my embarrassingly out-of-shape self would surely be hospitalized. As the day drew to a close, the sky was still an ominous shade of gray and the air was as wet as it was cold. My first experience with The 'Wick was not what I had hoped.

Sunday. Race day. Clearly, the racing gods are pleased with our behavior. It was one of those invigorating mornings where the grass is still wet and the skies are having a battle between the clearing clouds and the unstoppable sun. This battle was over by 10:00 a.m. and the sun set its rays beaming across Massachusetts with the clarity of an angel’s voice. Today’s arrival was completely different. This time, 15,000 people joined me as they gave birth to the wonderful crowded chaos of vendor's row. As I walked through the mass, I smiled and those words ran through my mind once again. “Motocross is alive and well.”

Southwick is an amazing place. It is surrounded by thick foliage where most of the spectators establish residence for the afternoon viewing of racing. The terrain contains a strong variation of elevation and several footpaths snake through the trees. The only bummer of Southwick is that the elevation change fails to provide an opportunity to see the entire track. Like I always do, I took off on my own with a goal of pacing every available walk space around the track. On my walk, I enjoyed all of the sights, smells, and sounds a crowd of 15,000 motocross fans typically generates. The constant hum of bench-racing chatter juxtaposed with the smell of food vendors and suntan lotion had me smiling like a fat man at a fish fry.

On what I consider a perfect day, there was of course the pinnacle of the experience. I had spoken with Kyle Chisholm’s mother earlier that morning and she nervously talked to me about young Kyle and his blossoming career. I have known the family for almost a decade, and it is such a reward to see kids make as far as guys like Kyle, Matt Goerke, and Zach Osborne have. When the gate slammed down and I saw #732 grabbing gears in the lead, my heart just pounded with amazement and satisfaction. It was a really, really powerful personal moment. Motocross is alive and well. Be that as it may, it was my second-favorite experience of the day.

As the first moto of the 450F class paraded around the track on their sighting lap, I took off on another stroll so I could change my viewpoint. I had been on the backside of the track amongst the “crazies,” so to speak, and I wanted to watch the 450 class from the hill behind the starting gate. As I made my way to the top of the hill, I joined some mechanics with headsets on and some industry-type folks. It was about halfway through the first 450 moto when it occurred.

Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart had once again engaged in combat. Ricky dogged the young Stewart relentlessly and the crowd’s noise of approval grew, as did the ferocity his attack. Ricky finally made his move, and as he did, I took a look out across the track and took in the sound and the fury the legion of roaring, arms-raised fans emitted. Big smiles. I looked down at my watch to see how much time was left and noticed a group of kids sitting around a hand-carved rendition of a motocross track in the dirt. The kids weren’t even watching. They had a race going on of their own.

Motocross is alive and well.

Weather permitting, this weekend will be chock full of this same medicine. Hangtown was a thriller, High Point was an instant classic, and Southwick was a culmination of both. We won’t have James at Budds Creek, so the incredible motocross experience will just have to step it up in his leave. With the soul of our sport singing as strong as it is right now, we should be just fine.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.