Vital MX Pit Bits: Southwick

Southwick was in great shape for this year's annual visit. Checking in with John Dowd, he said they'd brought in about 30 loads of new sand...pretty much all they could get their hands on. While the riders said they still feel the base (and we saw a few spots where it was evident), there's no doubt this is the most "different" racing surface we hit during the Nationals all year. Interestingly, RedBud may be second in that category, since it does have some big sandy sections, and varies from side-to-side in the material used for the track surface.

Waiting for the riders to hit the sand.

It's always good to see Paul Buckley, who made this section of Southwick famous by shooting some legendary photos there. Having a part of a track named for you? That's great. Seeing it commemorated? That takes it up a few notches to awesome.

Robbie Marshall said he had to take a couple days off from his day job as an excavator operator to make it to race The Wick. We love the Working Man art on the side of his KTM. The locals at Southwick love their two-strokes, and Robbie was making this one sing. Lining up for moto two, he did mention that the air-conditioned cab of the equipment he uses during weekdays was starting to sound appealing. It was plenty warm and muggy at the track.

Southwick is maybe the only track on the circuit where the locals local knowledge translates into a serious advantage when it comes to qualifying. Ryan Dowd was seventh on the time sheets and first in the opening B practice.

Chris Canning put in two top-20 finishes in the 450 class...on his KTM 250 two-stroke.

The weekend's hardware.

Here, Masa Ito (left) and Toshiki Tomita check out the scene before qualifying. It was cool to see the side near the pits opened up to spectators this year. That gave them a bunch more viewing options, which was good; this was definitely the biggest crowd in recent memory.

The track is lined with 4x4 posts, which is where the sprinklers for the track's watering system are mounted. We were happy to see them covered with pads, but wonder how a rider would fare if they met one of those at full speed.

Michael Byrne and Blake Baggett spent a portion of press day figuring out how he was going to most effectively tape the thumb that he injured at RedBud. He didn't ride during the week before Southwick, and the break afterwards was well-timed. He mentioned that he'll see what he can do to treat it before heading to Millville in two weeks.

How sore was Blake's thumb? His hand went into this ice bag as soon as he as off the track, and he only took it out for a visit to the podium.

Bleeding brakes might just require an extra hand. But Justin Shantie does put his knee to work to compress the rear caliper. Doing the front? That requires some Twister-like contortions.

With his GP experience on sandy tracks like Lommel, Ollie Stone does all he can to keep sand out of things like the clutch lever mechanism.

If you spot this little red goodie on bikes in the pits and wonder what it is, it's a port where they drop in a tiny memory stick for logging data.

With the additional oil lines that run from the cases to the integrated oil cooler in the radiator on the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki bikes, a little care is required for routing a protection. Ollie uses some heat shrink tubing on the lines so that he can guide the lines around the cyclinder, and to protect them from the kickstarter.

If you saw a portion of Austin Forkner's shroud flapping in the breeze at RedBud, and was wondering what was going on, the bolts were in place, but he'd snagged his boot on them, causing it to rip where they're molded together. To prevent it from happening again, Ollie uses a torch to heat the end of the shroud, and tweak it inward to prevent snagging. Then he uses an air hose to cool it before laying the graphics back in place.

Pedro, getting ready to drop a fresh shock into Jeremy Martin's bike.

The GEICO Hondas have been using cooling fans off and on since Hangtown, and they were definitely on for the extra heat and stress of Southwick. You can also spot a bit of extra insulation on the radiator hose to minimize the heat from the exhaust.

That's a really clean peg mount/guard/peg setup on the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki bikes.

If you watch F1 races, you'll see the mechanics use fans like these on the cars as soon as they pull into the garage. While those guys have unlimited budgets and probably have ridiculously overengineered fans, we've seen a few teams (like Monster Energy Kawasaki) doing something similar when the riders are doing start practice, or pulling into the mechanics area during practice.

The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM guys have their own version of the front caliper protectors found on the rest of the KTM bikes.

In the past, we've seen Alex Martin using +15mm pegs on his bike. Apparently he recently boosted them up another 5mm, to +20s.

If you come to the races on Friday, you'll often see that mechanics arrive with an extra piece of luggage to bring in consumable parts, like plastic, and filters, or other goodies that they'll change after testing requires a spec change.

As probably the most experienced truck driver in the MX/SX paddock, Big B has feeding the team down to a science...and they're not eating hot dogs. It looked like he had some smoked goodies, bleu cheese burgers, and more on the grill.

In the forum a few of you had asked what the Garmin 360 cameras looked like. They have front- and rear-facing lenses, and software stitches it all together. The cracked top screen? Because motocross.

Jason Anderson tried riding practice at Southwick, but after a mid-week crash, his back was too sore to race. Checking in with Team Owner, Bobby Hewitt, he said that if Jason had gotten a couple of extra days heading into the race, he'd have likely been good to go. He should be back for Millville.

Heartbreaker of the weekend? That likely goes to Justin Barcia, who ran out of gas short of the finish line in moto one while running in fourth spot.

Justin Hill had a Jon Primo handling the wrenching duties this weekend.

Over at Yamaha, Shane Drew was back handling the wrenches for Cooper Webb.

We spied Broc Glover chatting with Doug Henry, who'd just finished up the Race Across America with Micky Dymond, David Bailey, and Jeff Ward. Doug said in the run-up to the race, he'd often ride a bike trail from his house to Southwick, have lunch, and then crank back home in his handcycle. Broc said he was blown away with their effort, and had followed along online during much of their time on the road.

Here's another heartbreaker. Aaron Plessinger crashed out of the lead in 250 moto one, and he didn't return for moto two. An update after the race said that he didn't suffer any serious injury, but seeing a rider holding his neck, and leaving in a neck collar in scary indeed.

The manager of the Team France MXoN effort, Pascal Finot, was on hand to check out some of the French talent racing on this side of the pond before making his team selections. Dylan Ferrandis had a good day, winning moto one, and coming in second behind Zach Osborne in moto two. Marvin Musquin was fourth in moto one of the 450 class, but suffered a very scary crash in moto two, coming into contact with a spectator fence and suffering a DNF.

Whoops! Snowcrosser (and MXer) Kody Kamm hit the deck, and had an awkward meeting with Heath Harrison.

During the week, Nick Fratz-Orr makes his living as a realtor. In fact, he had to wait for a couple deals to close shortly before the High Point round so that he could go down and pick up a couple KTMs to hit the Nationals with.

Yeah, being back on the podium again was a bit emotional for Dean Wilson. It was good to see him up there, picking up a third-place overall.

When the skies opened up during the second 250 moto, many of the photographers ran for cover. Nope, Garth Milan's not scared of a little rain...

The most recent graduate of the Nick Wey School of Flagging? Davey Coombs. Yeah, he put himself in the middle of the track to help protect this Aaron Lampi when he went down during one of the motos.

If these were beignets, that would be powdered sugar. But this is Southwick, and everything gets a good coating of sand. Air hoses and a good rinsing will be a mechanic's best friend during next week's build process.

Brandon Scharer was the newest rider under the 3D Racing tent this week. With a 14-17 tally at the end of the day, he matched his season-best score at Thunder Valley. It sounds like the relationship with Nico Izzi and 3D has ended, and Nico will be going back to teaching schools.

Ryan Osborne holding up one of the wicked tasty lobstahs that Ziggy later cooked up for the crew.

MX Chiro, Steve Navarro, looking for a wrist to tape up.

Vann Martin had made the jump to the 450 class in recent rounds, but he didn't get a 450 entry submitted in time for Southwick, and had to ride his practice bike in the 250 class instead. He finished 24th overall with a 25-21 score.

Southwick may not be as wild as RedBud, but it doesn't mean they don't have their share of characters.

Shane McElrath hooked up and headed for turn one during start practice. Last year, his summer ended with a hard crash here, so it was good to see him leave the place healthy.

Dean Wilson's mechanic, Daniel Castloo, enjoying the spoils of making the podium.


8 comments
  • Markus123

    7/12/2017 4:20 AM

    My absolute favorite track of all the Nationals! I really hope it will return for the next years to come.

    Thanks for all the great shots. Please, adopt the new format to the MXGP Pit Bits as well.

  • Crush

    7/11/2017 3:22 AM

    Hey Michael, how cut down is A-Mart's seat? Those pegs are getting crazy!!!

  • ML512

    7/11/2017 2:44 PM

    I don't think it's cut down much if any at all. There's basically no room on the KTM seats to give up any foam.

  • Steadman

    7/10/2017 7:47 PM

    Digging the new format! Great Pit Bits as per usual.

  • RonJon516

    7/10/2017 6:43 PM

    Very cool pics/info

  • philG

    7/10/2017 4:44 PM

    Kawi footpegs with the pins the wrong way up ??

    And love the new format

  • Johnny Depp

    7/10/2017 3:19 PM

    Great stuff, the bigger photos make a huge difference and the ease of scrolling makes it so much easier. Great, great photos, thanks for getting behind the scenes for us!

  • Mini Elsinore

    7/10/2017 3:14 PM

    Such a cool track.