Welcome to Weekly Dirt, the best place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we’ve got news about the last race at Southwick, Brett Metcalfe racing in the US again, Taylor Robert grabs Gold at the Munich Enduro X, and Lanza takes a Utah payday! Hey, we got a lot to talk about, so let’s get goin’.
Farewell To Southwick
This past weekend was the final race for Southwick as part of the AMA National Motocross series – at least according to MX Sports, the organizer of the outdoor series. The series has been traveling to Southwick since 1976, however, according to MX Sports this year’s race was the last. MX Sports’ Davey Coombs confirmed that the contract between MX Sports and the American Legion, which owns the property the track is on, is up and the two couldn’t come to terms.
“It’s bitter sweet,” says Coombs. “The series has been coming here since 1976, it’s a wonderful track, it’s old-school, and it’s evolved over the years. However, as time has gone by, the original MX-338 promoters have all passed on and there is a new group of people running the American Legion here and I don’t think they value motocross as much as the previous folks did, who by the way, had kids who raced and were enthusiasts. And with [track managers] Ralph and Diane Pittello retiring, that’s our only contact. The original contract was with MX-338, not the American Legion, and when they couldn’t come to terms we don’t even know who to talk to. As far as we’re concerned, when Ralph and Diane retire that’s the last Southwick National.”
“I’m really sad and I hope somebody pulls through and makes it happen again,” says Doug Henry, who has many memorable wins at the Southwick track and was on hand to watch the final race. “It would be a bummer if this really is the last race. I’m just glad I’m here and part of it. I’m really going to miss all the racing that I did here and all the racing that I’ve watched here over the years. It’s a sad day for the New England riders, for sure.”
Of his fondest memories at the track, Henry says it’s perhaps the day his wife went into labor with the couple’s daughter on the morning of the 1996 national. “I drove her to the hospital and I came here to race all day and then made it back to the hospital in time for the birth of our daughter early the next morning,” said Henry.
In addition to Henry, John Dowd is perhaps the name most associate Southwick. Dowd officially retired with the Southwick race, calling it his last. “It’s a bummer that this is the last race for Southwick, I have a lot of good memories here,” said Dowd. “I’m glad I actually made it in, at this point in the game it’s tough to just qualify. But it’s really a bummer that the kinds coming up won’t have a Southwick to race like me and Doug Henry had.”
At the end of the day, defending 450-class champ Ryan Dungey took the final Southwick win in the elite class, while Eli Tomac did the same in the 250 class. There drama in both divisions, as Tomac had to come from outside the top 10 in the final 250 moto to secure his victory. In the meantime, Villopoto put on tutorial on how to come from behind in the first moto of the 450s. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider railed all the outside berms, seemingly never letting off the throttle as he glanced from one chopped-out whoop to the next in a desperate run to fourth place. It was an incredible spectacle, and one that will surely rank among Southwick’s best performances.
Brett Metcalfe took advantage of a break in the Canadian National MX schedule to ride the Southwick round, riding his practice bike to an impressive fourth place finish in the 450 class. If you remember, the 2012 season was a disappointing one for Metcalfe, after the former factory Suzuki rider broke his tibia in a practice crash at Glen Helen over the summer. This put Metty out of commission for the rest of the season and when it came to contracts for this year, the Aussie off-roader was left without a deal, which prompted his move to the Canadian series this year.
For sure, Metcalfe wanted to come down and show a few folks he still has the speed to compete in American, but the word is he was also at Southwick to talk to teams for a potential ride in 2014. We saw him spending a lot of time in Mike Alessi’s MotoConcepts team. Does that mean anything? Not sure, but I’m betting Metty will be back racing in the US for next year.
FMF/KTM’s Mike Brown took the early lead in the Men’s Enduro X competition at this weekend’s X Games in Munich Germany, however, it was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Roberts with the advantage after Brownie got hung up in a rock section and handed over the lead. From there, Robert basically stayed out of trouble and pulled away to an impressive but close win over factory Husaberg rider Alfredo Gomez.
Gomez moved into second midway into the race, overtaking Brown, who had problems on a couple of different parts of the track. Gomez nearly caught Robert at the checkered flag, making for a very exciting finish of the race.
KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak rounded out the podium, while Husaberg extreme racer Graham Jarvis and Brown finished fourth and fifth.
In the Women’s division, Maria Forsberg (KTM) topped former trials star Laia Sanz to take the Gold, with Sandra Gomez Cantero in third.
1. Taylor Robert (Kaw)
2. Alfredo Gomez (Hsb)
3. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM)
4. Graham Jarvis (Hsb)
5. Mike Brown (KTM)
6. Kyle Redmond (KTM)
7. Cory Graffunder (Hsq)
8. Jonny Walker (KTM)
9. Gary Sutherland (Kaw)
10. Colton Haaker (Kaw)
Suzuki to Participate in American International Motorcycle Expo
Here’s something you might want to check out this year: The American International Motorcycle Expo. In collaboration with Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., AIMExpo have announced that Suzuki will be a founding OEM participant in the inaugural event, scheduled for October 16-20 in Orlando, FL. Suzuki will introduce new 2014 motorcycles and ATVs, host its dealer body with exclusive VIP functions and conduct demo rides on select products.
Suzuki has long been one of the most recognized names in powersports thanks to its full lineup of high-performance products for on- and off-road enthusiasts. Additionally, Suzuki is currently enjoying a year-long celebration of 50 years in the USA.
“Suzuki recognizes the exclusive opportunities that are offered by AIMExpo’s ground-breaking platform,” said Mike Webster, President, Trade Show Division of Marketplace Events. “The ability to introduce 2014 products to their dealers as well as consumers and media is precisely what we intended when developing the AIMExpo vision. We’re thrilled to welcome the Suzuki brand and look forward to this important partnership.”
Suzuki offers the best-selling GSX-R sport bikes, one of the most successful lines in all of motorcycling, as well as the championship-winning RM-Z motocross models that have helped make the brand a household name. The latest iterations of these motorcycles along with Suzuki’s full lineup of Boulevard cruisers, DualSport models, scooters, and KingQuad ATVs will all be present at AIMExpo this October.
In addition to its display in the Main Hall at the Orange County Convention Center and its demo presence at AIMExpo Outdoors, Suzuki will also use AIMExpo as an opportunity to conduct VIP activities with dealers where they will not only have a chance to be educated on the new performance capabilities, but also experience these enhancements firsthand. Suzuki sees the event as an ideal way to connect with both current and prospective dealers.
“We are very excited to be a founding participant at the first ever AIMExpo event”, said Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. Motorcycle/ATV Vice President, Larry Vandiver. “The unique format and location of the AIMExpo gives Suzuki the opportunity to showcase our class-leading product to not only the public and the media, but it also gives us an opportunity to host our dealer network and invite them to share in some VIP experiences with us while attending the show.”
AIMExpo will be held on October 16-20, 2013 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. For more information, visit the AIMExpoUSA.com web site, and keep up to date on the continued progress by visiting AIMExpo’s social media pages. “Like” the American International Motorcycle Expo onFacebook by visiting the AIMExpo page, and “Follow” on Twitter: @AIMExpo. —Shan Moore
Lanza opts for Utah payday instead of X Games
Would you turn down an invitation to ESPN’s X Games? It’s difficult to imagine someone doing that, but that’s exactly what Husqvarna’s Jamie Lanza did–and he’s glad he did it.
There’s no doubt that X is the Holy Grail of extreme sports contests with its worldwide TV audience as well as other forms of media exposure.
But when it’s held on another continent and you’d have to pull at least three grand out of your own pocket to participate, a rational man (with a wife as well as a first child on the way) has to think twice.
And what Lanza decided was to stick closer to home. After all, about a 10-hour drive away (and, ironically, held on the same day as the Enduro X in Munich was originally scheduled), he’d heard of a small-town EnduroCross-style race. The clincher? Out of the $10,000 purse, it paid $3500 to the Open Pro winner!
“That’s more than [a regular] EnduroCross pays to win,” Lanza pointed out. “That was pretty much the motivation to go [to the Juab Extreme Enduro in Nephi, Utah] was for the purse.”
Held at the Juab County Fairgrounds where rodeos are the normal fare, Lanza wasn’t the only one hoping to take home the most loot. Western Design Racing TM’s Jacob Argubright and THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki’s David Pearson were among the higher profile competitors, and they won their respective heat races.
It was no rinky-dink course the promoter set up either. As Lanza said, “It was pretty spot-on. They had a little bit more tires and more tire stuff [compared to a regular EnduroCross-series course]. The rocks weren’t as big, but they had the standard rock piles, Matrix, rock turns–they had all the stuff.”
In the main, Lanza shared, “I started next to Pearson and I got the jump out of the gate. I pretty much cut him off right when I got the jump because I had to [since he was on a 450 and I was on my 125 and the course was kind of fast].”
Despite a mistake or two–normal EnduroCross fare, of course–Lanza ended up winning, with Argubright passing Pearson on the final lap for second place. (Argubright took home $2000 with Pearson earning $1000.)
“It’s a pretty cool event,” Lanza observed. “I think they’ll get a huge turnout next year if they do it. Unfortunately, they had their date planned [for this year] and X Games came along [and took the same date].”
But it wouldn’t take much to tempt Lanza back to Nephi next year. “Heck yeah! It was a lot of fun!” he exclaimed–especially after saying no to X. —Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.