Vital MX Pit Bits: Southwick

We're going to do a portion of this backward. Instead of running through the weekend chronologically, we'll start with a Steamy Sunday build day in the parking lot at one of the hotels near the Hartford/Windsor Locks airport. That's where we ran into a few different teams working on their bikes to get them dialed for Red Bud. The biggest issue after a Southwick weekend? Getting the sand out of every nook and cranny. Actually, that'll be part of the deal for the next couple of rounds, since RedBud and Millville also have their sandy sections. Everything...and we mean everything, gets a good wash and rinse. Brushes, soap, lots of water, and a thorough post-washing blast with an air hose help get everything as clean as possible. There was also a blazing sun and nearly 100-degree temperatures to deal with...and help dry things out afterward.

Food strainers are used to help rinse all the ti hardware. The only bad part about using the air hoses to dry things in the highly humid air was that it was creating a water blast.

Depending on the track surface, you might end up with some stained parts. Steel wool or Scotchbrite is a constant companion to keep aluminum parts looking good.

Yep, all these bits will get rebuilt into Cooper Webb's bike for next weekend.

We like the plugs they use for the Team Yamaha engines.

The Yamaha guys have a big spray rig that they dump a gallon of soap into and then top off with water. They make full use of it.

At the other end of the parking lot, the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/KTM/WPS guys were well into their build. They'd started at around 6:00 am in an effort to beat some of the heat.

Build days are casual days, but all business. Put the headphones in, and grind away.

The titanium subframes on the KTMs is pretty cool...and very light.

Ah yeah, more Scotchbrite. All the equipment takes a lot of abuse from roost, and this helps take out some of the nicks.

The Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha guys were also well into it, and they were getting fresh powerplants dispensed to each bike.

Some plastic and reusable parts will return home with the mechanics for use on practice bikes. Nearly all the mechanics have a big Ogio bag that they use to transport parts and pieces back and forth each week.


With everything cleaned and bolts prepped with grease, it was about time to start reassembly on Justin Cooper's bike.

We had a couple of riders returning from injuries this week, and it was good to see Cooper Webb back in action. If you believe the rumor mill, July 1 was the deadline before any other teams could talk to Cooper about trying to retain his services.

Justin Bogle was also back in action. The animal print wrist braces are a nice touch.

You know how we know we were at Southwick? When you see Paul Buckley camped out near his namesake berm, it's a good indicator.

Keith Johnson and John Dowd have been sprucing up the place. Apparently a garden show broke out next to this fast straightaway. They also had some cool signs saying, "The Wick 338. This is no highway."

Truck drivers are protective of their pit areas. They don't want water from other team's bike washes encroaching in their areas, so you'll often see them digging a series of moats around their pits on Friday.

Brent and Dane Rouse (Bubba Burger Racing), have a cool pair of bikes with them as they travel the Nationals. Brent races the CR450 on the left, while Dane wrenches for Brent, and hops on the '91 CR250 whenever he gets a chance.

Southwick means sand...and sand tires. We guarantee it had a lot healthier coating than this later on.

It's about to that point in the season where teams start switching out frames and/or swingarms. Since Mitchell Harrison had missed some races early in the season, his bike was only getting a new swingarm.

Yep, the radiators that the GEICO Honda guys uses are things of beauty.

Privateer life. Kyle Cunningham and his dad, Curtis, outfitting his bike with some new plastic.

With Justin Bogle back at Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing, and Justin Hill still in, on board the 450, their pits were a bit more full than usual.

This pup got himself a new Henry Miller.

Yamaha's pit cart has a couple additions for the summer, with the blowers used to help move air through the radiators on their bikes when doing repeated practice starts.

On the road down to the track, the Southwick crew had added a set of removable poles and fencing to divide it. That way they could open that part of the track to spectators, and it also made a good spot for riders and fans to interact. Shane McElrath demonstrates.

Ah yeah, it's that time of the year...the annual agent/team manager dance.

While the team pit carts were making their way off the track after the first 250 practice, the track crew fired up the irrigation system...and doused several of them.

It's always cool to see legends at the track. This is Jimmy Ellis, who rode for Can-Am and Honda back in the day.

Sand...sand everywhere...

RJ Hampshire didn't know if he'd even be racing at Southwick, after a hard crash in the late stages of moto two at Muddy Creek. He'd skipped riding all week, and made a go of it in practice. The good news is, he found he was okay to ride, and ended up in third spot in moto two.

That doesn't mean things went completely smoothly for RJ. Fortunately, this practice crash had a soft landing spot.

It was good to see Richard Sterling (bottom) back at the track. He's been spending more time in-house at GEICO Honda.

Johnny O and Mitch Payton discuss where the segments are on the track, while Joey Savatgy checks out practice times.

Ben LaMay has size 13 boots, and you know what that means...big toothy Hammerhead pegs, and a longer-than-stock Hammerhead shifter.

Dylan Ferrandis' mechanic, Nathan Pierson, worked some vents into Dylan's front number plate. Besides the usual stresses put on the bikes in the sand, it was also in the mid-90s on race day.


Bobby Piazza and his mechanic.

Ryan Dowd, carrying on the family tradition at Southwick. He was 19th in moto two.

Here's a peek at some of the blowers in action. There's time set aside for practice starts before the second session, which builds a ton of heat in the powerplants. It looks like most riders will go for three or four starts before backing it down.

Making it in the show at your local race? That's huge. Travis Delnicki was pumped about making the cut.

The smaller the cart, the bigger the horn. The Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha guys installed a huge air horn on their pit cart, and have been having way too much fun with it.

Ah, so that's how you stay cool...

You can find Jeff Crutcher posting in the Vital MX forum on occasion, and fighting for two-strokes


Doug Dubach (right) and his son, Carter, were doing this race as part of a summer road trip. Why did Doug opt for number 14 this time around, rather than his traditional 15? He said he'd also used number 14 the last time he'd raced Southwick as a pro.

Carter was just slightly off balance as they left the line, and it looked like he was giving his dad the boot.

Travis Marsh (431) had a good jump on the pack heading into turn one. He ended up in fourth spot. Derrick Barnaby (249) ended up in the third spot.

Billy Ainsworth and Ty Masterpool had a good race going, at least until Ty's bike quit.

Justin Cokinos ended up in second spot.

Justin Cokinos (left), and Billy Ainsworth were stoked to be on the podium. The trophies (complete with oil-filled Ratio Rite) were cool.

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