New England motocross track review: Southwick MX338
November 13th, 2008 • Review
Note: This is the first in a series of posts where I will be reviewing the motocross tracks of New England from my perspective. Remember, I am not an expert racer, but a newly promoted Amateur. These posts are my opinion, just because I like/dislike certain characteristics of a track does not mean riders of other abilities/preferences will like/dislike them.
MX338 in Southwick, Mass is by far the most celebrated track in New England. With its long history of AMA Nationals and its ominous deep sand layout, Southwick is a track all motocross riders should ride. The berms are deep, the braking bumps choppy, and the holes big. Southwick is one of my favorite tracks on the NESC circuit, its fun layout combined with great dirt and good lines make it a blast to ride and race on.
By far, Southwick's most famous feature is its deep, cocoa brown sand. The almost beach like terra firma is known throughout the country as some of the best motocross sand around. Fortunately, the dirt at the 'wick does not disappoint, and fully lives up to it's reputation. In the morning the smoothed sand is a highway for riders of all abilities, but as the day progresses, the sand begins to break down. Great lines form throughout the track and huge breaking and acceleration bumps form which separate riders in almost every class. If you like sand, you'll love Southwick. The sand seems bottomless in places, and it definitely takes a certain type of riding style to master. Unfortunately, some of the newer sections of the track seem to have a harder base underneath them which aids in the formation of square edge bumps. These are not traditional for the track at all, and truthfully, I am not at all a fan of them. Overall, however, the dirt at MX338 is excellent. It is some of the most pure motocross sand in New England and the lines it forms make for great racing at the end of the day.
For years, the wide open flowing layout of Southwick has been almost as famous as the dirt. But, a few years ago, the owners decided to reverse the direction, switching up the track completely. For the most part, the new layout is pretty good. Some say the track lost a lot of its flow, but with the changes they have made recently, the track flows decently and is still a blast to ride. The newer sections they have added make the track longer, and added some tight corners which help to slow the track down. Depending on whether or not you enjoy fast tracks, you may or may not like this decision. Personally, I enjoy the
new sections as I feel they break up a lot of the long straightaways and make the track much more fun to ride. The tight corners help to promote the formation of good passing lines and make for good racing. There are at least 2 lines in almost every corner, and the track is wide enough that passing is possible almost everywhere. A lot of the tracks in New England are mostly one lined and hard to pass on, but Southwick is definitely not one of them. The layout features multiple elevation changes, tight corners, sweeping corners, and some small jumps. It has a very varied range of obstacles that make it one of the most interesting tracks in New England to ride. Although the layout may lack the classic feel from years past when it went in the opposite direction, the current layout is really fun, and promotes great racing.
If you would like a better look at the layout, here is a helmet-cam video of X-Pro rider Billy Ainsworth at the 2008 Southwick National.
The starting line at Southwick is one of the most famous in history. Thankfully, it is also one of the safest in New England. The start is very wide and funnels riders up a hill into a sharp left hander. The first turn is normally crash free, however, once riders enter the rough bumps going into turn 2, things can get a little hairy, especially at the end of the day. Nevertheless, the Southwick first turns is still one of the least injury-prone on the New England Circuit.
Being a sand track, Southwick has limited jumps. Even the jumps that it does have are relatively small, and are all table-top style. The bumps and holes at the end of the day do present a slight safety risk for unexperienced rides, however, this is not at the fault of the track design. The overall safety level of the track is extremely high, and I have absolutely never felt endangered by the design or layout of the track.
MX338 in Southwick, Mass is the most famous track in New England, and it does not fail to live up to its reputation. The track features a great layout, epic dirt, and is very safe to ride. The racing at MX338 is some of the best in New England. The tough dirt separates riders and the many lines promote passing and safe racing. Whether you are a recreational weekend warrior, or a serious expert, Southwick is definitely a track you should ride before hanging up your boots.
You can learn more about MX338 on their website.