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Local Legends of Southwick

By Fowlers Facts

43-year-old John Dowd went 9-5 for 6th overall in 2008 and it was far from his final race at Moto X 338. Photo: Frank Hoppen
43-year-old John Dowd went 9-5 for 6th overall in 2008 and it was far from his final race at Moto X 338. Photo: Frank Hoppen

Of all the tracks on the circuit, Southwick favors local knowledge the most. That local knowledge is developed over a lifetime of competing on the track in New England’s racing series. We have lots of data charts about these legends at the bottom of this post.

The New England Minicycle Association and New England Sports Committee (NESC) visited the track 8-10 times a year for decades. Keith Johnson (Pembroke, MA), current track owner, was 6 years old when he started racing at Southwick in 1977.

Mike Treadwell (Mexico, ME) and Rick Zielfelder (Barrington, NH and owner of Factory Connection) both raced Southwick for the first time on KX80’s as young teenagers in 1983.

Keith Johnson coming out of the alligator pit of Southwick. 1981.
Keith Johnson on his 1981 YZ80 coming out of the alligator pit.

The point is, the best New England riders put in thousands of laps in the sandbox before they ever line up for the Southwick Pro Motocross. That’s knowledge you can’t learn in a couple of Saturday morning qualifying sessions, and their knowledge has left a lasting impression on some of the best in the world.

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Jimmy Decotis (Peabody, MA) was the fastest qualifier in the 250 class last year and Michael Sottile did the same in the 450s back in 2011. Sure, both men set their times in the B qualifying groups when the track was smooth, but they still topped qualifying and that doesn’t happen anywhere but Southwick.

If that doesn’t impress you, maybe #81 Pat Barton (1988) or #42 Tony Lorusso (1996) leading motos and finishing 3rd is enough. For Barton, Southwick was his only Pro Motocross race in 1988, and he went 3-6 for 5th overall.

Tony Lorusso in 1990. Photo: Paul Buckley
Tony Lorusso in 1990. Photo: Paul Buckley

For Lorusso, the current owner of New Hampshire Motocross Park, he finished 3-16 for 8th overall in 1996. He unfortunately fell in the first turn of the second moto, ruining any hopes of a repeat moto 1 performance.

1980 Southwick Pro Motocross souvenir guide with 1979 250cc winner Kent Howerton on the cover.
Track map found inside the 1980 souvenir guide.

The most well known and recognized legends of Southwick are John Dowd and Doug Henry. Both had success at Southwick, but also won championships and supercross/pro motocross races farther away from home.

John Dowd earned his final career podium at Southwick in 2009, 19 days after his 44th birthday.
  • John Dowd won the 1998 125/250 West Region Supercross title. Notably, he finished 2nd in the 250/450 Pro Motocross championships in 1994 (behind Mike Larocco) and 1997 (behind Jeff Emig).
  • Maybe the most impressive statistic is Dowd’s 48 premier class motos at Southwick – the most of any rider at a venue – and the most by A LOT! It’s 16 more than the next most… John Dowd at Unadilla (32) and a whole 20 more than Mike Larocco (28) at RedBud.
John Dowd at Southwick
  • Doug Henry won the 1993 125/250 East Region Supercross title, the 1993 and 1994 125/250 Pro Motocross championships, and the 1998 250/450 Pro Motocross title.
  • Be sure to read “Doug Henry and the Dam” and learn more about this AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame member and motocross national treasure.
Doug Henry finished 3rd overall at Southwick in 1992
Doug Henry at Southwick
Top 5 Performances from Local Legends

There’s a lot of local New England riders that have lined up for a Pro Motocross national. Here’s a few notable highlights along with those that have finished at least top 5 in a moto or overall.

  • Keith Johnson has raced 26 career motos in the premier class, 5th most of ANY rider+venue combination and 2nd most to Dowd at Southwick. His best Southwick finishes…
    • In 2001, Keith went 3-7 for 4th overall in the 125 class.
    • In 1998, Keith went 4-9 for 5th overall in the 250 class
  • Jo Jo Keller also had some incredible finishes at Southwick. In 1980, he went 3-1 for 2nd overall and in 1981, he went 3-3 for 3rd overall.
  • Mike Treadwell may not have a top 5 finish, but he was oh so close with a 6th, 7th, and 8th overall. His best was 1994 when he finished 9-9 for 6th overall aboard a 125.
Mike Treadwell and his father, 1983
Mike Treadwell and his father, 1983

Keep an eye on the entries this weekend. You’ll see 52 year old Tony Lorusso attempting to make yet another appearance at the Southwick National and there’s sure to be a handful more looking to add their names to the list of local legends.