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Motocross returns to track after brief absence


July 3, 2014
<strong>A rider takes part in the AMA Motocross competition in Southwick.</strong><br>Photo courtesy of Frank Hoppen Photography

A rider takes part in the AMA Motocross competition in Southwick.
Photo courtesy of Frank Hoppen Photography

By Carley Dangona
carley@thereminder.com

SOUTHWICK – Motocross will return to the town this summer after the American Legion Post 338 and Mike Grondahl reached a lease agreement for the Post’s property.

A two-year lease is currently being drafted between the Post and Grondahl, who will be lessee of the 40-acre property along with his business partner Travis Loucks. Grondahl initially wanted a 10-year lease, but switched because the town only allows permits on a two-year basis. The cost is $50,000 annually, according to the Post.
   
The Motocross 338 website, states, “In The summer of 1972, Motocross 338 held the first motocross race in Southwick. The race was located off route 10 & 202 in Southwick. The collaboration of the local police and American legionaries raised $3,000 for the Jimmy Fund. The following year, 1973, in July the first Motocross 338 race was held at the American Legion Post 338. The first Southwick AMA National Motocross 125cc and 250cc event was held in 1976.”
   
The track closed in 2013.
   
“I raced on the track for the first time in 1979 and didn’t want to see it close,” Grondahl said. “I love to ride; it’s in your blood. I felt obligated [to save the track] – it’s a labor of love. In the end, it seems it’s all turning out well.”
   
Grondahl anticipated the track would re-open this August. He commented that it’s “nothing fancy” but that he’s “preserving” the track’s history. He said there wouldn’t be any professional races this year, but he hopes to bring the nationals back within the next couple years.
   
“They’ve been running motocross here for a long, long time. It means a lot to the community and we’re part of the community [so we wanted to uphold the tradition], Mike Sullivan, Post 338 commander, said.
   
Sullivan explained that there were five or six “quality” applicants. “We were very surprised by the number of people interested,” he said.
   
Sullivan described Grondahl as “not just somebody to make a buck,” but someone who will bring a “rider’s perspective” to the track.
   
Joseph Deedy, vice-chair for the Board of Selectman explained the town bi-laws require the track to be run by a nonprofit such as the Legion.
   
Deedy also discussed the loss of revenue the town faced without the motocross nationals. He cited the fact that the Whalley Park July 4th fireworks celebration had to use alternate means of fundraising. The park would offer its parking lot to motocross attendees, a venture that raised $2,000 annually.
   
He noted that the track also hosts non-motorized events such as the Rugged Maniac competition. As for the nationals, Deedy said, “I wouldn’t say the door is closed.”

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