Reminder Assistant Editor
SOUTHWICK The Motocross 338 "Sandbox" will adorn a new men's champion for the first time in nine years during the Kicker Audio Southwick Motocross National on Aug. 23-24.
Last year, Ricky Carmichael won the men's race at Southwick for the ninth consecutive year but has since retired to drive in NASCAR. This year's race will lead by heavy favorites James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto in the eleventh round of the 12-race AMA Toyota Motocross Championship.
Southwick will also host the fifth round of six-race AMA/Women's Motocross Association Women's National Motocross Championship, including 17-year-old Freetown, Mass. resident Katelyn Crowley. The Mini Bike Nationals will also take the track on Aug. 23.
In an interview with Reminder Publications, Crowley explained that she will compete in her first professional race at the Sandbox since gaining her pro license in April. She noted that she competed in her first motocross race in Southwick in 1999.
Crowley said she hopes the home crowd will be on her side as she tries to win her first professional race. She explained that she is nervous and excited for the competition.
"I love competing," Crowley said, adding that she's been hooked on the sport since her father bought her a dirt bike for Christmas when she was seven years old.
Crowley is the 2007 New England Motocross Association Women's Champion. She will take on points leader Ashley Fiolek of St. Augustine, Fla.
Motocross 338 Operations Director Diane Peebles-Pittello said she believes this year will provide a unique experience for the approximately 17,000 people in attendance as new riders drive for the win in the men's division.
"I've always enjoyed Ricky racing and he always put on a good show for the fans but James Stewart is doing a phenomenal job," she said. "I am going to miss Ricky but like any person who has achieved as much as he has he knows it's time to move on and do other things with his life."
Dante Molta, president of Motocross 338 said many changes have been made throughout the 32 years that Southwick has hosted a national. He explained that in the beginning racers and their families would pack up the RVs and head to the track and enjoy a weekend of camping and tailgating. Molta explained that now the riders are much younger and enter the facility with an entourage and multiple trailers in tow.
Peebles-Pittello noted that in addition to the racing other changes have been made throughout the location including the expansion of fan seating and the track's VIP section. She said she has worked diligently to ensure that the track's live action far surpasses that of the television coverage. The SPEED channel will televise the final on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m.
Tickets for the event cost $40 per person for Saturday and Sunday and $30 for Sunday only. Children under the age of six are admitted free. Also included with admission will be a performance by the band Ten Man Push on Aug. 24 at 11:30 a.m.