The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross series has often been criticised, because there is not much diversity in the track surfaces that the title fight visits. But there is an exception; Southwick is the only sand track on the schedule. Although it is not comparable to the sands of Lierop and Lommel, it is a sand circuit that gets very rough. Southwick is not as deep as it once was. But, it is still taxing on both man and machine, evident by the amount of DNF’s that we see at the venue each year.
Surprisingly, there will be no more rounds of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross series held at Southwick. The title fight has visited the MX338 facility for many years now; in fact it was the thirty-fiftieth edition of the event on Saturday. In recent weeks there has been quite a lot of speculation surrounding the decision to no longer run a round of the series at Southwick. So, why is the Southwick national no more? It appears that MX Sports are not the guys to blame, as it has nothing to do with them, it would seem. It is stated within the press release that the long-term promoter, Diane Peebles Pittello just couldn’t “reach terms with the landowner to maintain the event at the facility.”
It is unfortunate that Southwick will no longer host the event, however in these tough times it seems as though it boiled down to money. Some people have not given up on the race yet, what if the promoter could work it out? Is it unrealistic to think that Southwick could host an AMA National again someday? Unfortunately the event will not be replaced by another sand track, it would seem, as there is not a facility capable of hosting such a large event currently. It is undoubted that MX Sports will find a suitable replacement for Southwick, but it is such a shame that the event had to go.
Understandably all of the Southwick fans were quite upset about the fact that their race was taken away. However the fans suffered another blow when this prompted a local hero to retire from racing! John Dowd finally hung up his boots following the second 450MX moto, and deservedly so. Dowd raced his first AMA National at Southwick in 1987, so he is certainly a part of the tracks history. John retired from full-time competition in 2005. But, he has lined up at Southwick each year since then. In 2009, Dowd almost won the overall in the 450 class, despite being well into his forties. In his final professional outing, Dowd scored points, with a nineteenth in the second moto, which is not bad at all at forty-seven years old!
It seems like quite a while since Eli Tomac last garnered an overall victory, but he did take his second victory of the season at Southwick. Tomac has been quite inconsistent again thus far, like he has been in previous years. Although the Geico Honda pilot has won quite a few races this season, he has not been a contender for the moto win in every moto. Honestly, whether he has been in contention or not has depended on if he gets out of the gate with his rivals. It is no secret that Tomac is one of the bigger guys in that 250MX class, which is why he was so eager to get on the big bike this year. Whenever he has started in the top five, he has been a frontrunner; but he has started outside of the top ten frequently, which has hindered him.
Southwick was a prime example of this, as Tomac started inside of the top three in moto one and was practically unbeatable as a result – he won the race by sixteen seconds! However, in the second race he started outside of the top ten, which meant that Eli could not get close to Ken Roczen, as the Red Bull KTM rider jumped out to the early lead. Interestingly, we did not get to see the two riders battle at all at Southwick, as they did not meet on-track in either of the motos. Rarely do we see the two in a fight on-track, which is strange when you consider how close they are in speed.
In the coming weeks I do believe that things will start to heat up between Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac, as they are now separated by seven points in the standings. It seems as though there was a bit of tension following their duel for the 250SX West crown, so perhaps that will carry over. In my opinion, the title fight will boil down to these two, as both Baggett, and Musquin have been a little inconsistent in the first half of the series. Obviously Roczen is in the drivers seat at the moment; I do think he is the favourite. However his title chances depend on how he handles the heat. Red Bud this weekend could be a pivotal round, as the race is notorious for being very hot.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of KTM Images/Simon Cudby