With the New Year brought the beginning of the new lease for Motocross 338 and the beginning of a new chapter in the long history of the legendary motocross track in Southwick Massachusetts. Michael Grondahl, the new lease holder, could finally begin moving forward on his quest to return the ‘Wick to its former glory as one of the premier motocross facilities in the country.
Mike began racing at the ‘Wick in 1979 with the NESC and earned his AMA Pro Motocross license in 1981. He has been passionately involved in the sport ever since. Mike was a talented motocross racer but it turns out he is a better businessman. He is the co-founder and former CEO of Planet Fitness, one of the partners of the GEICO Honda team as well as Alias MX and owns several businesses outside the motocross industry. His lifelong passion for motocross combined with his business success and acumen makes him a perfect steward to guide Motocross 338 into the future and develop it into a world-class facility.
With the change in lease holders, a number of minor issues were expected however it has also brought one unforeseen challenge. There have been a lot of rumors and speculation regarding the status of the track with many pronouncing Southwick DOA. That is simply not true. Near the end of 2013, it was discovered that about one acre of the pit area is on property owned by the school next door. That one acre completely blocks access to the pits.
The previous lease for Motocross 338 did not end until December 31st 2013, therefore Mike was unable to do any work on the track or facility, do anything to address the land issue or work with the NESC and NEMX to schedule races until after January 1st 2014. He has however, purchased several pieces of heavy equipment and has been working on putting together a team to reconfigure and rebuild the track, update the facilities and run the events.
On January 8th, Mike met with officials from the town of Southwick and the school. The meeting was generally positive and the school officials were very supportive of allowing Motocross 338 to lease the one acre of land to allow access to the pits.
In the past, due to the limited spectator parking available at the facility for the Southwick National, Motocross 338 partnered with the school which provided parking on school property for the event. It was a win-win for Motocross 338 and the school because there was plenty of temporary spectator parking for the National and it gave the school additional income for education. However the decision to enter into a long-term lease for the one acre of school property is ultimately up to the Southwick town officials.
The next meeting with town and school officials is set for January 27th. If the land issue is resolved at that meeting, work will begin as soon as the ink is dry on the land lease with the school.
The reality at this point is if an agreement is reached quickly, there will likely be time to hold a few races later in 2014. Since the scheduling of NESC and NEMX races could not wait for this issue to be resolved, it is hoped they will be able to fit at least one Southwick event into their 2014 schedules with a return to a normal schedule in 2015. If there are additional delays it is possible there won’t be any races until 2015.
Mike is optimistic an agreement will be reached with the town and is currently negotiating with another adjacent land owner to either enter into a long-term lease or to purchase 30 acres of land. If the deal comes to fruition there will be plenty of room for expansion of the facility. What this means for the future of Motocross 338 is with the additional 30 acres plus the continued partnership with the school for spectator parking, the sky is the limit. Among the goals Mike has set for 2015 and beyond is to restore Southwick to the NESC and NEMX schedules, bring the AMA National back to Southwick, host a round of the USGP and host the MXoN. In addition, he has many ideas to bring some big one-off motocross events to the iconic track.
Another status update will be released shortly after the January 27th meeting with Southwick officials.