Zac Commans has been a busy man the past few weeks. The 19-year-old originally planned on racing at least three rounds of Amsoil Arenacross to earn his SX endorsement through Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross. However, a week before the event he realized that he might not have to.
Commans' original plan saw him making it to Anaheim 2 at the earliest for his professional debut. Due to the loophole that he legally found he only had to race the opening arenacross round in Cincinnati.
For the past two weeks Commans has been on the road, traveling from his home in Southern California to Ohio and back. Along the way he met some new friends, felt the sting of the East Cost winter cold, and witnessed his first glimpse of snow—ever!
We caught up with the YP.com/Nuclear Blast KTM (Slaton Racing) rider very early on Tuesday morning to see how he was able to race San Diego and how his trip across the country went.
Racer X: First, let’s get this out of the way. How were you able to race San Diego without fully going through the Road to SX program?
Zac Commans: Well, it’s tough to explain. Basically there is a rule the AMA had that I qualified for. I wasn’t aware of it until a week and a half before the arenacross season started. I had scored my Pro-Am points long enough ago that I was able to get my license, which was in 2014. I guess only a select few met that requirement and I wasn’t aware of it. A friend of mine called and brought it to my attention. We made some phone calls and tried to make it happen with some of the folks at the AMA. I never got a confirmation that my license had been approved.
To show respect to the rule, and gain the experience, we went out to Cincinnati and raced. I was able to talk to some people from the AMA in person and they all agreed that there was a standing rule that applied to my situation. I was able to get my license without the Road to SX requirement, although I was off to a good start in getting my points for that. I went to Cincinnati to respect the process, but I also had hope that I really didn’t need to be there. We were able to get back a week early and race San Diego.
You’re basically a week early than your initial plan. You were intending to make your debut at Anaheim 2, correct?
Yeah, to be out there a week earlier than I expected is a blessing. At the same time it was tough. It’s not that I was under prepared with my training or riding, but I was under prepared in the sense that I’d been in Ohio. For the past two weeks leading up to San Diego the only day that I rode was when I raced the AX in Cincinnati. That was the only time that I was able to ride my race bike. We had to drive out and we had been traveling so much. I had 70 hours of being in a car driving non-stop. It was hectic and not exactly what I would have liked leading up to my first race. However, I was stoked to get out there and get my feet wet with experience.
What did you drive across the country in?
We were in a pick-up truck. It was brutal.
You missed a heck of a weather shift too. It’s five degrees today.
We actually hit the cold leaving Ohio. We went through a few spots where we were wishing there were snow plows. We hit ice around Indiana or something and the trailer went sideways and we went off in the shoulder. We were able to save it , but it was a bit sketchy on the way home. We didn’t get home until 4:30 on Thursday morning. Went riding a little bit on Friday morning to get more comfortable on the bike and then it was time for San Diego the next day.
Did you learn anything from arenacross that you applied to supercross?
Racing arenacross definitely helped me. I hadn’t raced anything in a few months, so getting off of the gate took away some pressure for me. Racing in an intense environment was beneficial to me. Everything is so close on the first lap of arenacross that you have to have smart line choices.
You went from racing arenacross one weekend and then made your professional supercross debut just one week later. What was that experience like?
I’ve dreamed of racing supercross since I was three years old. Being out there was awesome. The result wasn’t what I have hoped for in my debut. I think I finished eighteenth, so I would obviously like to be farther up than that. I got through the day safely. I didn’t have any catastrophic events and nothing went wrong. I had a lot of nerves and jitters. My goal was to get everything calmed down and tamed. I put it in the main event though at my first one. A lot of guys struggle to just make the main through years of riding. It’s definitely an accomplishment, however it’s not where I had my sights set. I’m looking to progress throughout the season.
Overall the day was successful and we were a week early. I got my feet wet and I’m more prepared now. I’m looking forward to Anaheim 2. I’m looking forward to just focusing on my riding, rather than freak out with all of the people around me.
A couple people had come by and they knew it was my first race and they asked me how it was. They told me that it looked so scary from the crowd. I told them I felt the same way they did about it, but I was the one doing it.
It’s a huge change from being an amateur. You’re in a team truck and all of the fans are around. It was also the second round of the season, so everybody is still amped up. You jumped into a big pond.
I had the chance to get a little glimpse of that with the Monster Cup. I was able to pit with the Pro Circuit team. That was similar, but it’s different. At the Monster Cup I was racing the Amateur All-Stars Class, which was the sideshow. Now I’m in a class where people actually go to watch. They came to the race to see us race. That in itself raises the intimidation factor ten-fold.
My good friend Adam Cianciarulo came into the semi before the heat and again before the main event. He was giving me little pep talks. Before the heat he said, “Listen man, there is going to be a certain point out there when you’re going to realize, holy crap I’m racing supercross right now.” He said that you just can’t freak out and that I was going to want to panic. He also reminded me that I have to calm down and keep going. It was pretty funny. Surprisingly enough it did happen.
What lap did it hit you on?
It hit me when I was sitting on the gate! The thirty-second card went up and I looked up and started scanning the crowd. It’s kind of like when you’re walking on a bridge and someone tells you to not look down. It was like a, “Hey, how about you don’t look up again.”
Looking up all of those people had to give you some adrenaline, right? It didn’t just make you nervous did it?
Yeah, I got pretty nervous. It’s nerve-racking.
It’s cool to hear your insight for those of us who will never experience that moment.
It was weird. I had a few people come by the semi and talk as well as get autographs. A couple people had come by and they knew it was my first race and they asked me how it was. They told me that it looked so scary from the crowd. I told them I felt the same way they did about it, but I was the one doing it. I see the triple and it’s a 65 foot gap to a four foot wide landing. That’s going to be tough to hit. You’re confident in your own ability, but it’s very real. It’s hard to describe. I get to do these jumps and it’s really fun once you get out there.
You’re still on Ohio time as well. How is that working out for you?
It’s working killer in the mornings. I’m up super early and ready to go riding before anyone is out there. On Saturday night I was spent. It was six o’clock right before the night program started and I was sitting in the semi about ready to get geared up. Before I did that I closed my eyes and I felt like I could have gone to sleep. I could’ve totally conked out and called it a day. I got on my spin bike and started getting fired up again.
Well, now you can get back into the swing of things and back on your schedule. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. Good luck at Anaheim 2.
Thanks, Troy, I appreciate it. I’ll be talking to you soon, man.
Zac would like to thank the following for helping him out this year: YP.com, Nuclear Blast, Slaton Racing, KTM, FXR Racing, FMF, DC Shoes, Pro Circuit, Forma Boots, Justified Cultures, Dunlop Tires, Mastel Linens, Rekluse, Motographix, Xtring, SKF, InnTeck, DID, Dubya, Acerbis, Renthal, Motorex, Works Connection, Matrix Concepts, TM Designworks, VP Racing Fuels, Motool, Dirty Motosports, Guts Racing