SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – It’s that time of year again when the town of Southwick and several local communities nearby are gearing up for the biggest event in motocross. The 2017 Motocross Nationals are set to make their second straight appearance in Southwick on Saturday July 8. The official race begins after 1 p.m. and timed practices prior to the national event will start at 8:30 a.m.
With racers, their families, sponsors, and fans coming from all over the United States and across the world, hotels in areas like West Springfield, Westfield, Springfield, Windsor, Conn. and Hartford, Conn. will be receiving an uptick in business.
It’s also the local businesses in Southwick that have benefited from the national event when it was in town, most recently in 2013 and 2016, and 2017 is expected to be no different.
Joe Deedy, who is the Vice-Chairman of the Select Board and the Owner of Moolicious Ice Cream, directly benefits from the motocross nationals.
Moolicious was a vendor at last year’s event, having a cart that sold ice cream and other cold and frozen treats, and they will be doing the same this year. Deedy also added that his business’ main location on 258 Feeding Hills Road also receives a boost in business, especially with the people that arrive earlier in the week to help set up the course.
“They’ve been out in the sun all day and they’ll stop to get some shade and get an ice cream,” said Deedy.
When people visiting Southwick for the week aren’t spending their time near the track or getting ice cream, they will make a stop to one of several gas stations in Southwick to pump gas and get their food and beverage needs in the convenience stores.
One of those options that has noticeably thrived is the Notch Travel Centre at 326 College Hwy. Miles Ericson, who is the General Manager there, said that there is almost a 50% increase in customer traffic during the week of the nationals.
Ericson always makes sure that they are heavily staffed for the week.
“It’s something we have to prepare and staff for,” said Ericson.
Ericson noted that motocross events in Southwick start in late April and run through November and it’s not just the national race that brings an increase of customers to the Notch.
“It brings people in throughout the months that it’s open,” said Ericson.
Karl Stinehart, who is the Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Southwick, is always pleased to see a national event like this one have such a positive impact on the town.
“It certainly lends itself to one of many recreational activities that the town offers to people,” said Stinehart.
This year’s motocross national will include features that have never been offered before for that particular race. Rick Johnson of the Wick 338, who manages the race, said that the television network NBC will be broadcasting the race globally. The national race is only one of three events that will be doing that.
Also this year there will be a brand new VIP suite in the thick of the race.
In years past, there was a famous straightaway right in the middle of the infield. The Wick 338 crew has leveled off that part of the infield and has put the new VIP tent right in the center of it, an area where no one has ever watched the nationals from.
“It’s by far the most beautiful spot in the world,” said Johnson.
Johnson also added that there have been new sections added to the course. One is after the spectator jump and another is after the sky hook way up on the hill.
The Wick 338 is also pleased to announce that Red Bull is going to be the title sponsor again.
“To have an anchor like that on your side, we’re very proud of that,” said Johnson.
For the racing aspect, Johnson said that they used 20 truckloads of Southwick’s own sand to fill in the track. Having some of the best racers across the world participating in the national race, the sand will make for a faster and more exciting race.
“It’s just going to make for great racing,” said Johnson. “We’ve got to make sure we stand up to that reputation.”
Johnson noted that they drew people to the race last year from every state and “local” people come from a 300-mile radius. He is also projecting that the national race will remain in Southwick for at least the next three years,
According to Johnson, the race brings in revenue of around $1.4 million to Southwick businesses. “It’s still a significant boost in the economy,” said Johnson.
Counting down the days in which the Motocross Nationals becomes a focal point of the town, the Wick 338 couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity.
“We are totally enthralled in the fact that we are going to have this,” said Johnson. “We need to make sure that we become the very best in the country and we will be.