This isn’t Nick Schmidt’s first rodeo. You could argue that the longtime privateer, known as “The Milestone Assassin”, has been on the radar for a few years now.
In 2013 at the Las Vegas supercross finale, virtually unknown at the time, Schmidt made his first ever-main event. He was #415 on a Honda that year, his long hair flapping in the breeze, just going for it. A few years and several top fifteens later Schmidt is a top privateer in the 450SX class. He’s made it into six of seven main events this year and is the only privateer to consistently make it into the big show. He’s ready to jump to the next step, which would be getting on a factory bike and becoming a staple in the class.
Schmidt is receiving some help from the Fly Racing/TPJ (The Privateer Journey) team as well as some personal sponsors, but hasn’t had a full-time mechanic this year. Although he’s had to fend for himself at the races it hasn’t affected his mindset, taking full advantage of the amount of support he’s received. Schmidt is just a guy who loves to ride his dirt bike for a living.
We called the “Assassin” up on Tuesday afternoon to talk about the upcoming East Coast swing and to get an update on his life.
Racer X: Yes, may I speak with the Milestone Assassin?
Nick Schmidt: (Laughs) This is he. What’s up? How are you doing?
I’m doing well, how about you?
I’m great. I just got off of the track so you had perfect timing.
Nice! What do you have going on today?
Oh, not much, I’m just cruising the track and doing some motos before I leave for Atlanta this weekend for the East Coast.
Do you get to fly east?
Yeah, I fly out Thursday morning. I think I get there around 3:30 p.m on Thursday. I’ll be cruising back in through the A-T-L.
Your home state is listed as Washington on all of the entries. You’re based out of SoCal now; do you get to go home at all?
Yeah, I go home for the holidays and stuff and hang out with the family. For the most part I’m based in California, just riding, and trying to stay on top of my game.
I’ve heard so many stories about how fast you are at Milestone and I have to know: What is it that makes you so fast there and why do you love Milestone so much?
I don’t know. It’s not just that I’m in love with it that much, but they do help me out quite a bit. They help out with my racing and they let me ride for free because they sponsor me. To ride these supercross tracks everyday it costs $65 a day, so it helps out. I like the dirt. It’s probably the best dirt around in SoCal because it gets tacky and rutted up. So yeah, I guess I do just love it.
If I were fast at a certain track I would run with it too. It would be home base.
Yeah, I guess it is my place. I live right by it in Corona, so it’s close. I guess I go pretty fast there some days, but I’m trying to go fast everywhere. That’s the plan, right?
Exactly and you are. You’re not exactly a surprise in the 450 class every week, but it’s cool to see that you’re one of the only privateers to make the main event week in and week out.
San Diego 1 was the first round I made because I had some bad luck at the first round, but that’s racing. In San Diego I looked around on the gate and everyone had a ride, except for me. I’m the lone soldier. It’s definitely a good feeling knowing I’m the only one without a factory ride in there. That’s cool because I’m doing my own bike work during the week; I’m riding, washing bikes. I’m basically a rider/mechanic. This past weekend I was pretty much doing everything on my own. I put the chain on, changed the sprocket and oil, and then went down there. I’m just trying to have fun on my dirt bike. I would love to have a mechanic, but I’m not going to let that slow me down.
Yeah, you’ve already come that far to the event and you’re national number 79 now. You’re up in the mix battling with the top guys. You’ve made six main events in a row and the cream always rises to the top.
It definitely does and hard work pays off. I’m just going to keep putting in the time. Obviously the goal is to get a factory ride, or even if a team needed a fill-in ride I would love to get a shot. That would be the ideal goal. That’s all I’m asking for is one shot for a couple races on the best equipment you know?
The goal is to get a factory ride.
What is your setup right now? You’re going to the races as rider and mechanic. You’re pitting out of the Privateer Journey setup. What does that team do for you?
Ted Parks with TPJ takes my bike with that program. Obviously I have my own sponsors and they help out with flights, hotels, and all that stuff. They make it so that I can go racing. If it weren’t for those guys I wouldn’t be there. Ted takes my bike so it’s less stressful on me so I don’t have to drive during the week. I always know it’s going to be there and that’s a huge weight off of my shoulders. This year Suzuki helps out with Ted, so I got a couple bikes for the year and outdoors. I think right now if I don’t get anything for outdoors I’ll be with Ted for all 12 rounds. If I don’t get a fill-in ride, that is. I should be good.
You’ll be at all of the remaining supercross rounds too I’m assuming?
As of right now that is the plan. I’ll be at the races.
Let’s talk about the past six races. You’re making the main events, what do you need to work on to get to that next level?
Honestly I need to work on my intensity in the first couple of laps. Sometimes you have to go to the LCQ, which isn’t too much fun and it’s nerve-wracking. Your heart rate goes up and then goes back down and you have deal with that. So I just need to work on my intensity in the first six to ten laps because those dudes right away go as fast as they can go. I usually don’t get going until about the halfway or towards the end of the moto. I just have to put my head down and sprint and charge as hard as I can go. I know at the end I’ll still be strong. The field is so stacked that if you crash or fall in the first few laps they will be gone. This week I’m working on my sprint speed in those opening laps.
What is your mindset in the main events when you’re usually one of the only privateers? You’ve been at this for quite a bit, so I doubt you’re star struck.
Now I expect to be in there every week. I go to the races to get a good position in the main event. I go there to do a job. I’m not there to make friends. My goal right now is to get into the top fifteen. Going back to last year I had a string of top fifteen finishes and I need that next step. I feel like I’m there I just need to keep plugging away. I’m usually stronger at the end of the season and now I’m strong at the beginning, which is really good for my confidence.
If you remember last year at Dallas Chad Reed and I were battling. I led the entire semi until the last lap and he got me in the last turn. These guys have great factory equipment, but there isn’t any reason why we can’t go out and battle with them. I know this sport is 90 percent mental. I know my mental game. It’s getting better. They put their pants on the same way we do every day, so they can’t be much better than us. When you’re in A practice we are used to being around one another. Some guys will see a guy like Reed and move over and I used to be the same way. We’re all the same. To me everybody is equal now, they are just on better equipment, I guess.
It kind of goes with that theory of “Privateer Island” where you guys can get a ride now if you stick with it long enough. Weston Peick came up that way and now you’re on the verge of leaving the island too, possibly.
The goal is to get a factory ride. Last year I was almost in the top ten in points and this year a couple guys are getting hurt. Hopefully that will land me a fill-in and possibly a ride for next year. I hope someone sees the potential and believes in me. I’m doing this because I love it. You know, the Suzuki guys are out, so I’m just trying to stay consistent and healthy.
You are one of the only Suzuki’s out there other than Ken Roczen and Jake Weimer at the moment.
A buddy who is also a sponsor of mine was telling me the other day that I could have filled in for a couple of weeks. I didn’t even notice that Factory Suzuki didn’t have any riders.
Wait, so you didn’t even notice that they weren’t at the track?
No, not really. I don’t really pay attention to anyone else. I just like to focus on myself and what I need to do. When I looked at the results I noticed they weren’t there. Dude, the field is so stacked there are 22-24 factory riders. It’s crazy to think about that, so I try not to.
That’s a good strategy. What is your program like for the East rounds?
I’ll fly to the races and stay in California. I’ll be flying in on Thursdays depending if I have press day or not. I’ll fly back on Sunday and ride. I might stay between Atlanta and Daytona, I don’t know yet. Those rounds are close, so it might be silly to do that. I’ll just ride in California during the week and keep my practice bike here. I’ll have the same program that I had on the West Coast for the East.
What do you want people to know about you that they may not?
That’s a good question, man. I’m an easygoing guy. I want my fans to come over and say hi in the stands and in the pits. I’m down to earth. I’m always having fun because that helps me ride better.
I’m looking for a ride for the summer too. I’ll race in America, Canada, Europe, Australia, just anywhere. I just want to ride my dirt bike.
I also heard that you like to play basketball a lot. Is that true?
Oh yeah, I play basketball a lot. I try to play three days a week at night when I’m done riding. To do that after a long day of riding and mountain biking is fun.
I heard that you also dunk on Dustin Pipes and beat him all of the time in one-on-one.
(Laughs) Yeah, if he ever comes down from NorCal! We play some one-on-one, but he hasn’t beaten me yet. He claims he’s coming back strong from his injury, but we’ll see how he plays on the court.
Yeah, keep that win streak going on him. Don’t let him beat you.
He gets pretty bummed. He’s playing all of the college guys in NorCal, so we will see. He’s a good buddy of mine. We ride together a lot and stay together, so he’s a good dude.