“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculite patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”
Yes, that is pretty deep and we’re just racing dirt bikes here, folks. But everything is relative, and from June 6, 1976 until June 29, 2013 professional motocross races have taken place upon the sands of Southwick. There are three tracks on my bucket list that I have been lucky to scratch off. Unadilla, High Point, and Motocross 338. Southwick stuck out to me the most because it seemed to fit the way I grew up. I always wanted to be a baseball player like my school friends. When they all made the regional traveling team and I didn’t, my solace was loading up the trailer and heading to Ponca City to chase national championships on dirt bikes. The first and only time I drove into Southwick the first thing I noticed were the baseball/softball diamonds that blanket the entrance of the Motocross 338 property. I thought it was so cool to see the transition of sports that most of us go through growing up as motocrossers.
Southwick '76. That's Pierre Karsmakers and some Yamaha kid on #39.
Racer X Archives
Southwick last year.
Carl Stone photo
Thinking about the possibility of the final visit to this nostalgic venue also brought back my first memory of losing the first track I ever knew. I grew up riding 50’s and 60’s on a track my Pops built on borrowed property behind our tow truck business. One year that borrowed property became purchased property and our track became a junkyard littered with broken automobiles. Years and years later I drove back to look at what was left of the track and I could pick out exactly where the first double I ever jumped used to be. In my mind, I could see through the collage of bent and rusted metal and remember the entire track layout. It was sad to see something that could not be put back, or made right again.
If you scroll through the Racer X Vault you’ll notice that there weren’t races at Southwick in ‘83, ‘84, or ‘85. I’m not sure of the history there or why, but maybe it was similar circumstances that we’re facing today? Hopefully this won’t be the last running of the event. If it is her legend will always be there at the back of the property. Old fans will always be able to squint their eyes and see the ghosts of JoJo Keller, Carlo Coen, John Dowd, and Doug Henry flying across the sand. They’ll always be able to point to the tree where the Buckley Berm was and stories like Ron Lechien spending the night in his rental car in front of the entrance gate, then winning the first moto in 1987 will never lose glory.
It will be missed.
Carl Stone photo
The locals will be crazier than ever this weekend.
Carl Stone photo
If this Saturday afternoon does mark the last time a gate will drop at Motocross 338, we have a fitting stage for her grand finale. Business has picked up in both esteemed divisions and as we reach the cross flags of the ride, nobody can rightly pick the champions. The forecast for Saturday is a 30% chance of rain, but it will be storming upon the track tonight and likely raining all the way until practice race day morning. It will be vintage Southwick with deeper, darker berms and slower, more grueling laps. Swan song or not, the racers will charge like it is their last lap, and the fans will scream and party like they’ll never go back.
Thanks for reading, see you next week.