Mike LaRocco - Raiders of the Archives - Dirt Rider Magazine

This shot of Mike LaRocco on his factory Kawasaki 250 is from Southwick in 1993. Mike raced Kawasaki 250s and 500s, and had his share of races at the sandy, whooped out Southwick track. Later in his racing career Mike LaRocco and Rick Zielfelder, owner of Factory Connection racing, started a one-man race effort that turned into the powerhouse satellite team Geico Honda Powersports Racing.THE EVENT: "I liked Southwick because it was rough and it was one of those tracks where, it wasn't great to race on if you had a bad start, but it paid off late in the moto to be fit; it just seemed to be a little in my favor… …My style back then was not so great with starts, but pushing the whole time and I think that's where I slowly started building up my fan base."

Photo Mark Kariya

THE BIKE: "1993, I'm pretty sure I was out with injuries this year in supercross. I remember coming to the nationals late for some reason… I seemed to like my time on the Kawasakis. I remember that bike being fairly well-rounded and fairly easy to ride. I know that those were some of my fastest years… I really did like that 500 also. For the big bike that is was it did flow, it had very ride-able power and it turned. The 250, I felt very well suited for it at the time, too. They were both pretty well-rounded… …I didn't like to use the clutch a lot so I needed nice roll on power. I didn't need it to be really explosive with the clutch, I just needed it to be really smooth and with good response so I could carry a gear high… It really wasn't, and I 'm not sure why, but I remember taking a year longer before I got off the two-stroke. I'd just gotten the two-stroke where I was comfortable with it, and then switching to four-strokes, I remember one of the hardest things about it was getting it to stop, it always seemed like my braking marks were off, and my timing was off because it had a little bit more power. "TODAY: "I'm the team manager. I basically, I don't want to call it babysit, but I look over the riders and the bike set up. There's a lot that goes on and we have a lot of guys who are pretty well rounded here at the shop so most of my focus is just making sure the riders are comfortable. And I'm actually doing a fair bit of the testing to make sure the bikes are good… I ride 'em once in a while just to check in and give some feedback… …as a rider, I never really wanted someone to tell me what to ride, but then being here I started to realize that these guys are young and they really don't know what they want yet. So this year I took a little more initiative and rode the bike and set it up the way I felt it should work before we handed it to the guys; it seems to be working pretty well."PHOTOGRAPHER PAUL BUCKLEY ON THE SHOT: "This is Southwick 1993, early in Sunday morning practice, the turn right after the finish line when the track went in the original direction. I really liked the way that spot was backlit in the morning and probably shot a few rolls there before moving on to my next favorite spot. I also like the way Mike's MSR gear looks with his bike and the background.""My 93 Canon had auto focus working pretty well but I'd still use manual focus some of the time. I probably shot this with a Canon EOS 1 and a 300 2.8 lens.""That day even though Mike got third he was over shadowed by the duel between Jeff Stanton and Mike Kiedrowski plus the crowd was rooting for the guy who would finish behind him, hometown hero, John Dowd."To order prints of many of Paul Buckley's classic motocross photos (more are being added all the time), check out www.buckleyphotos.com