INTERVIEW: Colt Nichols – Motocross star... and F1 fan

INTERVIEW: Colt Nichols – Motocross star... and F1 fan

Check this out: Colt Nichols of Muskogee, Oklahoma has run 20 motos thus far in the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. In crawling all over his Monster Yamaha/Star Racing/Yamaha Racing YZ250 while traversing America’s roughest and toughest motocross tracks, he’s maintained a remarkable 5.95 per-moto finishing position. Encouraging calculus.

Yet while currently sitting fourth in the 250cc classification, Nichols wants more. Much more. Third at the end in the 2019 AMA 250SX West Region Supercross Series (he also nailed down his first 250SX win at Anaheim 1 last January), the 25 year-old is right there in the mix, and will be a serious 250cc title contender come 2020.

Q: Four motos left here in the 2019 AMA Pro Racing season. What do you think about how things have played out up to this point?

COLT NICHOLS: For the most part, honestly, I’m pretty happy with this season as a whole. There are a handful of things I wish I could go back on of course, but that’s like anything. I feel like as long as we keep progressing and moving forward, which I feel like we’ve been doing, I’m good. It has been a little frustrating for the middle part of the season up until now. I had a few bad races, but the past three or four races, I feel like I’ve been riding really, really well and yet I’m still getting fifth or sixth or whatever, so that has been a little frustrating for me.

I do feel like the riding has been getting better, so I can at least hang my hat on that. I just need to put it all together, you know? I’ll be riding really well, but have a bad start; or I can be riding really well and crash. It’s just some little things, but overall, man, I’m pretty happy with this season as a whole. We’re sitting fourth in points with four races to go, so it’s been a good season so far with a nice little learning curve, but I definitely want to go out with a bang with these last few races and try to get back on the podium.

Q: Your consistency this entire year has been fabulous. And to your reference to ending the season on a high note: you’ve run real well at both Budds Creek and at the Ironman during your still-young pro career. Looking forward to this run down the end of ’19?

CN: Yeah, yeah I actually really like the last couple of tracks. I really like Budds Creek, and especially Ironman – Ironman is probably my favorite circuit. I enjoy these last few races, and I really just want to go out swinging and kind of see where we are, but I feel really happy with the progress that we’ve made. Mainly with myself, and in understanding how I work a little bit from the mental side of things. Also, physically – Gareth Swanepoel and I have had a solid year of working together and we’ve built up a big base, so that’s been a huge help as well. Overall, man, I’m happy.

Q: You look at the podium finishes and the consistency… you have to know you can do it, huh?

CN: Yeah, and at this point, I do. That’s why it has been frustrating logging these fifth and sixth place finishes, just because that I know the potential is there. It hasn’t been quite executed yet. Once we do that and it all comes together and I do everything right, it’s going to be awesome, and I’m just looking forward to that. Hopefully, it’s going to be one of these last two Saturdays.

Q: Supercross also went quite well for you this past winter. Certainly something to be encouraged by, and more to build on come ’20, huh?

CN: This year as a whole, really, is nothing to look down on. I did a lot of things that I really wanted to do, and got to check off a lot of boxes off the little goal list that I had made. I just did a lot of cool things. Like I said, this past summer there were a couple of things I wanted to go a little better than they did, but for the most part, third in points in supercross and now sitting fourth in points in outdoors is good for me. It’s actually good to build on for the next year, and I’m really hoping I can win the supercross title next year. Coming into outdoors next year, I want to try and win that, too. I really feel like I have the potential to do it.

And like you said, the consistency has been there, but just not high enough on the consistency board as far as moto finishes. We’ll get there. I know I can do it. It’s just putting the little pieces of the puzzle together, and now we’re trying to configure it, and it hasn’t quite sunk in. That’s alright. We’re still learning and making progress, and I can’t complain about that.

Q: And that Monster Yamaha/Star Racing/Yamaha Racing outfit you’re a part of… You guys have been up there punching away in every single moto!

CN: Oh yeah, you take Adam out of the picture, and he’s had a very exceptional year indoors and out. Yet here we are running two, three and four in points, you know?!That’s a pretty awesome thing. The team as a whole, they just really know what they are doing, man. They’ve been really, really helpful in helping my progression as a rider. I can’t say enough good things about the team. They have been pretty phenomenal.

Q: And you’re back there next year?

CN: Yeah, I’ve got one more year with Star and then I don’t know what’s going to happen after that. I think I’m eligible for Lites [250cc] after next year, so we’ll see how it all plays out.

Q: All things considered, you’re in a pretty good spot. You can really make some things happen here soon.

CN: Yeah, and that’s 100 percent the idea. I also have big ambitions to get on a really good 450 team. I feel like I could do really, really good there. That’s definitely the goal for me. I really want to get on a 450 and be on a solid program and have the whole thing put together. That’s really what I’m shooting for. That’s why I want to figure this outdoor stuff out so badly. I want to be a contender in both. I don’t want to just be good at outdoors or just good at supercross, I really want to be able to have the whole package to be able to contest as soon as I get into the 450 ranks.

Q: So what are you going to do when the checkered flag falls at the Ironman here in a couple weeks and you head into the off-season?

CN: This year I’m actually going to do a few thing that I’ve never gotten to do before. I’m going to Oklahoma. I’ll be there for a week after Ironman, and then I’ll come back to California that next week.

The week after that I’m going to Italy with a few of my buddies – Justin Boggle and a couple of other friends – to watch the Formula 1 race at Monza and hang out a little bit. It’s a boy’s trip, if you will. I have a wedding to attend – Benny Blose and his girlfriend are getting married in Mexico, and I’m going to go down there for a couple of days and celebrate his lwedding. Yeah, I’m just going to take some time off, man. I think before I got stuck in a rut of doing, a) completely nothing, or b) just continuing the same kind of grind, and this year I think I just want to take a little bit of a break and enjoy myself a little bit and do some things that I’ve never gotten to do.

And going to watch this Formula 1 race is going to be awesome. I’m a big Formula 1 fan, so I’m very excited about that. I love it, man. I really got into it over the course of the last two years, and this year I bought a little F1 simulator to play on my Xbox so I can act like I’m a Formula 1 driver. I’m learning a lot more about it and trying to understand it a lot more. I love that sport!

 

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