Through round ten of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Colt Nichols is averaging a 6.8 moto finish in the 20 motos he’s competed in so far. He’s snagged three holeshots and has four overall finishes inside the top-five. The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha rider finished a season-high second place in the second moto at the Spring Creek National and sits fourth in the 250 Class points standings, but the Muskogee, Oklahoma, native wants more. Much more.
Finishing third in the 2019 250SX West Region of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, (he also nailed down his first 250SX win at Anaheim 1 in January), the 25-year-old is right there in the mix of things and sure as hell will be a serious 250cc title contender come 2020. How’s this guy feeling about his position in the grand scheme of all things USA moto? We weren’t totally sure, so Eric Johnson called him up and asked.
Racer X: Okay Colt, what’s happening with you this midweek Thursday between Unadilla and Budds Creek?
Colt Nichols: Yeah, I’m doing well. I’m just at home and getting ready for the weekend. I’ve based myself out here and we’ve been traveling back-and-forth from the races to California each weekend. I’ve been here in California the whole time.
You were born and raised near Muskogee, Oklahoma. How do you like living out here in sprawling Southern California?
I do like it. It’s more for the convenience than anything. You know, I train at the W gym here in Murrieta, which is maybe four or five miles from my house. I have my meals taken care of by Tyler and the BC Fit Meals guys and they’re only about 15 minutes from me as well. Everything is just super convenient. It makes it real easy because the team is based out here too, so I do enjoy that side of it. I miss the family back in Oklahoma, but I do like it here.
What do you do for fun? Do you have friends around here or is it all about eating, sleeping, and dreaming and scheming all things professional motocross?
I try to get away from the same monotonous kind of things; you know the day-to-day riding and training. However, I do have a handful of buddies who are inside the moto industry, but not riders and things like that. We hang out and go do some stuff. I love to play golf and I live right next to a driving range. I do play a lot of golf. There is also a basketball court right down the road from me. For the most part, though, I just hang out at my house and chill with my little dogs. If I want to do something there are a handful of things I can go do and enjoy myself a little bit. We’re close to Temecula, so I’ll go down and hang out at the winery one day. I try to get out and stay social.
A few more long airplane rides and four motos left here in the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Big open-ended question here, but all things considered, what do you think?
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 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.
Yes, 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 rundown at the end of ’19?
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 [trainer] 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.
Yes, you look at the podium finishes and the consistency, you have to know you can do it, huh?
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.
Supercross also went quite well for you this past winter. Certainly something to be encouraged by and more to build on come ’20, huh?
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 kind of 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.
And that Monster Energy Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha team you’re a part of… You guys have been up there punching away in every single moto!
Oh yeah, you take Adam [Cianciarulo] 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.
And you’re back there next year?
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 [the 250cc class] after next year, so we’ll see. We’ll see how it all plays out.
Hey, all things considered, you’re in a pretty good spot, you know? You can really make some things happen here soon.
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.
What are you going to do when the checkered flag falls at the Ironman National here in a couple weeks and you head into the off-season?
This year I'm actually going to do a few things that I've never gotten to do before. I'm 25 now and I've never gotten to do a handful of these things. I'm going to do things a little differently. 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 headed to Italy to watch the Formula 1 race at Monza and hang out a little bit. It's a boys trip, if you will. Benny Bloss and his girlfriend are getting married in Mexico and I'm going to go down there for a couple of days and celebrate his little wedding. Yeah, I'm just going to take some time off, man. I think before I got stuck in a rut of doing completely nothing or 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.