Rivalry Brewing At Southwick

By Dick Baker
Updated: June 13, 2005

James Ricky Carmichael has won the AMA/Suzuki Pro Motocross Southwick National in the 250cc class five straight years, but this year he has a new challenger.

James “Bubba” Stewart is racing in the 250 class this season after a record-breaking 125 season in 2004. Only 19, the Kawasaki rider is the first African-American to ever win a major motorsports championship in any racing discipline. He comes from a family of racers with his father, James Sr., a former local motocross racer, and his 11-year old brother also competing.

The competition between Carmichael and Stewart is just part of the weekend’s excitement at the Southwick Motocross 338 on Powdermill Road.

Gates open this morning at 8 a.m. with qualifiers starting at 3 p.m. Tomorrow the gates will open at 7 a.m., the pits at 9, and heats will begin at 10:30, and the competition at 1 p.m.

Carmichael, the national tour point leader, was challenged by Stewart in the second round of the series at Mt. Morris, Pa.

“It’s fun,” Carmichael said of his race with Stewart. “I know the fans like it and I like it as an athlete. That’s what it’s about in sports, having strong competition.”

Carmichael will be on a Suzuki for the first time at Southwick, and hoping to give Suzuki it’s first win at Southwick in 24 years.

“I grew up in Florida racing a lot of sand trucks so it doesn’t bother me,” Carmichael said of the sandy surface at Southwick. “It’s definitely one of the toughest tracks we race on, and it really shows who’s been doing their training.”

Stewart is the defending Southwick 125 winner, and this will be the first time on the track riding a Kawasaki KX250. “I’m pumped about racing at Southwick again,” said Stewart. “Ricky goes good there, and I do too.”

Ivan Tedesco heads into the 125 competition fresh off of winning his second consecutive 125 West THQ/AMA Supercross championship. Tedesco, 22, is nicknamed “Hot Sauce” for his charismatic riding style. He was recently featured on the MTV show “Cribs”, which showcases the residents and vehicles of successful athletes and celebrities.

Chicopee native John Dowd and Doug Henry of Torrington, Conn., will be in action this weekend. Henry has largely retired from national motocross competition to concentrate on the AMA Supermoto Championship, but he still makes the annual appearance at his home track where he has won three nationals.

Dowd is back racing in America after spending a season in the Canadian Motocross Championships. Dowd, who turns 40 in August, finished 10th at Mt. Morris and is ranked 12th overall after the first two rounds.