If you take I-79 South to Exit 1 Mount Morris, Pennsylvania and take a left at Bald Hill Road and a slight right at Taylortown Road, you’ll find yourself at High Point Raceway. It has been one of the premier fixtures on the annual Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship for decades, and that’s exactly where we ran into Colt Nichols on Friday afternoon. Present as a member of the omnipotent Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha outfit, the native of Muskogee, Oklahoma recently locked down a 250SX East Supercross Championship for, Nichols was ecstatic about the team he represents in the football and baseball stadiums, as well as on the natural terrain MX circuits of throughout the country.
“We’ve won a lot of titles in the past five years and there is a reason for it,” enthused Nichols, referencing a recent interview he did as part of a Gypsy Tales podcast. “I mean I know the team has had its struggles and whatever, but we’ve had a lot of success lately and I think it has all been a very good thing. Yeah, I got to touch on it in the recent Gypsy Tales thing. That was, honestly, a really cool podcast. It was really long and I didn’t expect it to be as a long as it was going to be, but we just got so in-depth with stuff and was asking some interesting questions and I was able to say what I wanted to say. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Bobby Reagan at Star Racing Yamaha and all the success that we’ve had. It’s well worth it. This team is busting its ass and it’s showing and we’ve got the results to back it. I’m just proud to be a part of it, honestly. I’m just really, really proud to represent this organization. I was able to win a supercross title and that was something that I really wanted to do for Bobby. Just to kind of give him a big thank you for all the years and for signing me when I was injured and for just believing in me. He never wavered on that. That was pretty cool to do that for him. That was a big, big thing to check off the list for me.”
Emerging triumphant after a mighty tussle in winning the 250SX East, when asked if he experienced or even suffered any sort of emotional hangover coming off such a very hard-earned and highly emotional accomplishment.
“No, not really,” pointed out Nichols. “Once we got back to racing, and you know how our sport is, you’re only as good as your last race and people tend to forget pretty quick. That’s kind of the way I try to approach it, too. I really have my certain goals that I wanted to meet for this whole year as a total, and it wasn’t just about supercross. Winning a supercross title just happened to be the first goal that I wanted to accomplish. There’s a lot more to go for me and a lot of things that I still want to do. Outdoors is something I have actually put a lot of emphasis on this year to kind of be a little better at and to try and be in the championship hunt, just like I was in supercross.”
When the 2021 250cc National Championship fired off at the sunny Fox Raceway in Pala, California over Memorial Day Weekend, Nichols motored to somewhat off-song 9-12 moto scores for a lowly ninth-place overall finish. He was not pleased with his result.
“It was a rough start, really,” declared Nichols. “You know, the first round was kind of a slap in the face. I missed all of the outdoors in 2020, so it had been a while since I raced them. I think maybe I forgot how rough and tough the outdoors actually is and how fast the pace is with everything. However, it’s coming back really well and I feel like I’m making leaps and bounds with progress as far as the bike and with myself as a whole. I would love to be upfront in the outdoors the rest of the summer. We’ve got some god tracks coming up and I have felt a lot better the past few weeks with some testing and stuff like that. I’m really trying to surge forward and to be on the box just like I was in supercross. I feel like that’s where I should be. It was a very disappointing first few rounds for me, but now I’m ready to go for the outdoors and there are still a lot of things I want to accomplish this year.”
Precisely seven days later, Nichols bounced back to race to fifth overall beneath the technicolor greens and blues of majestic Thunder Valley Motocross Park in scenic Colorado.
“I was okay with Thunder Valley just because it was progress, you know?” offered Nichols. “I can’t be upset at progress, but it still wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be. I had a really rough first moto at Thunder Valley. I just haven’t been getting out of the gate really well. That’s really been hindering my performances. In the second moto, I had a bad start and was able to find my way back up to fifth and luckily, I was able to salvage a fifth overall. I was happy with it, but at the same time, I felt like I should be on the podium. I feel like I have podium speed and my fitness is really good, I just really have to get out of the gate and help myself a little bit here. I was satisfied with Thunder Valley, but definitely looking forward to trying to get more.”
And of the rolling Mount Morris circuit nestled along the border of Pennsylvania and West Virgina?
“I actually really, really enjoy the track. It’s one of my favorites on the circuit. I look forward to it every year when we come here, but I really feel like I can have a strong performance here. Like I said, I love racing here. The track gets those really hard ruts in it and I really like that that kind of riding. The track is also really, really off-camber, so you have to have some finesse. I’m looking forward to it, man. We’ve had a productive few weeks and had a weekend off where we got to work on some things. I’m aiming for the podium here. I just have to get out of the gate a little better and I’m sure we can do it.
‘It’s great to be here, EJ. Yeah, even today, we are at the track on a Friday and seeing all the fans here and all the amateur racers and people just running around, it seems normal. It’s such a big relief for us just because all these fans coming out is what makes our sport. You kind of feel the energy. I know for myself, I really enjoy that. I need the fans and it all brings such good energy and everyone is having a really good time and just enjoying some good racing. That’s why we all get involved in this anyways. We got involved to be fans and to watch and to participate in good racing. It’s been really fun here so far, and the competition has been really good. You’ve got a bunch of really, really good fast guys and young kids and older kids out there. For me, I’m considered one of the older guys in this class now! The future is in good hands, for sure, but I’m trying to hold that process up a little bit! I’d still like to hold it down if I can and just have fun. It’s just been fun, man. It seems like it’s been a crazy battle from lap 1 to the checkered in all four motos we’ve done so far, and I don’t expect anything less this weekend. It’s been really, really fun. I just want to be in the front of those battles more often and we’ll be aright with everything!”
Before heading off to get prepared for Saturday’s two motos at High Pont Raceway, a few fans stopped Nichols to congratulate him on fulfilling his dream of becoming a champion. A few minutes later and back in the pit area, Nichols spoke about the accolade.
“Yeah, man, it’s kind of crazy,” he said, still absolutely moved by the achievement. “It’s still kind of hard to really put into words for me. For the most part, it’s literally just something I can look at and just be like, ‘Man, no matter what, even if I had to quit racing tomorrow, I’m a champion.’ I can say that now. You always strive to do that, but when you actually do it and your name is in the record books and no one can ever take that away from you. That’s way you do all that stuff. That’s the hard work and that’s what you want. That’s the outcome that is bigger than anything. It means everything.”