Nick Wey needs no introduction, which is why penning an introductory paragraph for this interview was hard to do. Regardless on whether or not he wants to admit it, the 2017 season marks his 20th as a professional. It puts him in rare company as a professional with guys like Mike Brown, Kyle Lewis, John Dowd, and Kevin Windham.
Wey has been keeping himself busy by traveling, riding, training, being a moto dad for his two sons, and really just through dad life in general. The NYK has also taken on the responsibility of coaching riders as well. Last summer he helped Adam Cianciarulo on his comeback to motocross and this off-season he has been working with Dakota Tedder.
Whether or not we see Wey on the track a lot this season is up for grabs, but we’ll see him at the races. He’ll be helping Team Tedder get those extra two clicks on their bike setup and he’ll be the one with the longest autograph line in the pits. We caught up with the man at the helm of the Mafia Moto Crew as he was on a bike ride Tuesday morning.
Racer X: You’re a busy man.
Nick Wey: Yeah, it’s hard to plan my life these days it seems. Geez Louise!
I’m not sure if you realize this, but 2017 marks your 20th year of professional racing.
Yeah … I mean, I’m definitely not racing full-time this next year. I’m not ruling out racing a couple of times, but definitely not for the whole season. I’m not really sure that counts.
If you’re lining up at some it still counts. How many rounds do you see yourself actually racing?
Dude, I have no plans to line up at all right now, but I’ve been riding a fair bit and training. I’d like to race RedBud. I don’t want to be there just to be there either though. If I feel good and think I can do well, I will. But if not, I’m going to be chilling on the couch.
That sounds just about right too.
Did you just get back from Germany?
Yeah, I did a race there and it was fun. It didn’t go super well, but the real reason I went was to have a good time. I went there for the Motosport.com guys to make a video edit of the behind the scenes of a European Supercross. That’s kind of why I went, but it was cool and I had a good time.
It’s been fun to watch you pick and choose what you want to do the past few seasons. If you feel like you want to race you’ll show up, but if you don’t want to you stay home. Not a lot of riders get that luxury.
I’ve had a lot of great sponsors behind me for a long time. They enable me to do some fun stuff still and stay involved. I’m thankful for that for sure. I think with the selected races thing that I’m kind of getting worn out on that. It’s just hard, getting older is tough, not being competitive all of the time, or training the entire season is tough. I may do a couple of things here and there for fun, but it’s getting harder to show up and see how it goes. I think that it goes without saying that I love to race. After being a professional for so long, the training part of it is more of a lifestyle. It’s not something that I dislike doing by any means. I think that allows me to stay relevant on the racing scene, while still being semi-retired I guess.
Yeah, when you texted me back the other day it sounded like you were going pretty hard. You said that you just got out of the gym and were going on a bike ride. Now you’re about to go on another bike ride. Are you sure you aren’t gearing up for Anaheim?
I’ve been working with Dakota Tedder. I had an opportunity to race with Team Tedder at the end of supercross last year. I got to know them and Dakota is a super nice kid. He’s got a lot of potential, so I’ve been training and riding with him. Then I’m also doing my normal dad stuff and whatever else it is that I do. It’s been fun to stay involved in that way. That’s why I’ve been riding, training, and such. That’s why I thought that going to race in Germany would be fun. I have been riding, but I didn’t spend that much time on my own setup or doing any specific training that helps myself. I went to that race maybe a little cocky with what my result ability was. Regardless, I take it with a grain of salt because I know how it is to compete at a high level. These guys are living and breathing it and I’m dabbling in it, essentially.
It’s cool that you can stay involved on the coaching side of things, while still having the option to race with Team Tedder. It’s the best of both worlds for you.
It’s worked out pretty good. Last summer I helped out Adam Cianciarulo at the races, too, during the Nationals. So, I went to a lot of those and I enjoy helping the younger guys. It’s fun. My sons have been riding a lot more lately. My seven-year-old boy has now raced three times and he is gung-ho. I also have a four-year-old who is just starting to ride his PW50. They are both super on it, so yeah I’m juggling the moto dad life as well.
My boys are super beginners, but we’ve gone to some races here in Southern California and they have like 30-something racers in the 50 (4-6) class. It’s pretty intense for me. I have super awesome parents and it’s hard to keep that standard!
There is no way around it now. Your kids have caught the bug and now you’re going to be that hardcore moto dad.
Well, that wasn’t my intention to have them racing at such a young age by any means. My wife is from Dewitt [Michigan] also and motocross there is not a thing. For her sons to race it wasn’t really an option for her. It’s not really her thing and she’s not really a fan of it to begin with. Not that she dislikes it, but she sees how the boys come off the track when they think they accomplish something and how happy it makes them. It’s a whole family thing and it’s pretty cool. At the same time I don’t want them to pursue that as a career. It’s just something for fun.
I’ve got some rapid-fire questions about your career. What was your all-time favorite team that you got to ride for?
I had a good time with the MDK team. I was able to make a good living and I was tight with the owner Mark Kvamme and we both got to make decisions on the direction of the team. I had my best 450 class results with them. I had a couple of podiums in supercross that year and I finished top five in the series. That was the most rewarding to me. I got burned out at such a young age being on these factory teams. Everyone was so cutthroat and you were only as good as your last race. They acted like if you had a bad race that you didn’t have any value. I was just mentally beat down at such a young age based on what my results were. It became pretty obvious that I had sponsors that would stick by me through that stuff. I saw that there was more value in me than just getting first place. That was never my intention to be a champion, it was just more of I was stoked to ride.
I just would ride in my parent’s backyard and I would think if I could make it to be a professional that would be sweet. I don’t know, I feel like I could have reached better results based off of my potential and I know that. I definitely got discouraged when things didn’t go as well. Looking back on it I knew I could have done a lot better, but I wouldn’t have changed much. I did it how I wanted to do it and I wasn’t being told by a manufacturer what my value was. It was more like if you don’t think my value is very good then I’m going to sort it out and get my fair market value elsewhere. Then I would add more value in different ways. That way when I didn’t win the first six rounds in a row I wasn’t feeling like I’m worthless. A lot of these privateer efforts, where I kind of picked myself up by the bootstraps and bought my own bike are the things that I’m most proud of honestly.
Who was your favorite rider to race against?
You always have those rivalries that come with you through the amateur ranks. I think that motivates everyone. There were a lot of dudes that I came up with that pushed me whether it was [Ricky] Carmichael, [Ernesto] Fonseca, Brock Sellards there for a while, Shae Bentley, and a bunch of other guys. They are your peers and they push you to excel. Those are guys that I always respected and I know their families personally. Beyond that my favorite teammate was Nathan Ramsey. He was a bit older than me when I first got on the Pro Circuit team those first couple of years. He kind of took me under his wing and advised me a bunch. He’s always been a super great person and a really great rider. I honestly appreciate him being such a good friend and teammate when I first came into the professional ranks.
What’s your favorite race?
Well, winning the 1999 race at Millville was obviously a big highlight to me. I pushed myself in those motos beyond what I thought I was capable of. I knew there was the potential of winning. A lot of times I honestly had the motivation sucked out of me like everybody else from Carmichael. [Laughs] At the same time there are a lot of races from 2004-2008 where I was getting good starts and I was right up there in the mix with Carmichael, [James] Stewart, and [Chad] Reed. There were four or five times where I got on the podium amongst those dudes. That was definitely a highlight for sure and I was on privateer bikes at the time, too. That’s something that I’m even more proud of because I had a lot of say in the direction of where the team went. It ended up being competitive, so I was stoked.
Who was your favorite mechanic?
I’ve had a lot of great mechanics over the years for sure. I can’t really even think of one that was bad. I think Big Nasty of Mandingopickles.com definitely bent over backwards for me the most. We started the team Mafia Moto Crew and he drove the truck and was my mechanic. Not only that, but he helped me develop parts on the engine and suspension at the time. We were learning about the bike together. He went above and beyond for me and I definitely appreciate that. He’s one of my best friends so it was cool to work with such a great friend too.
Somewhere Matthes is crying right now because of that answer.
No, Matthes drove the box van around too! He put in a lot of extra effort to make sure I had everything that year, also. There is not one mechanic that I’ve had that I can speak poorly of. They put in so many hours on a very low pay rate. It’s all based on the passion of the sport and I appreciate everyone’s help no doubt.
Looking back did you ever think that you would be in this sport racing at the top level for this long?
Well, I think it that it goes back to the appreciation I have for all of the support I get is pretty genuine. I don’t think anyone in the pits would question that I appreciate their help. I think racing at such a young age with my dad it was always a thing where I had to be in the garage helping him, which took a lot of dedication on his behalf after work. I always had that appreciation for everyone around me working. Beyond the factory “you’re only as good as your last race mentality” it kind of rubbed me the wrong way since the beginning. I always tried to give my sponsors some extra value of some sort, or extra effort on my behalf to let them know I was appreciative. I’d do that extra little bit to help them sell more products and associate myself with their brand in a positive light. I think that stuff definitely allowed me to have more support over a long period of time regardless of not racing supercross and motocross full-time.