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Nick Wey In Depth Interview

10/11/2002

Recapped By: From Racer X Online - Eric Johnson

 
 

Reprinted with permission from RacerX

This time last year, Nick Wey was on a ledge looking down at his career as a professional motocross racer. Having pointed out of the 125cc Supercross Series, and coming off a miserable summer in the 125cc Nationals, the Michigan rider had been given his pink slip at Yamaha of Troy, and offers for the 2003 season were very slow in coming - a situation any pro rider dreads. Wey, a young man used to life as a factory-supported racer, was now on the outside looking in. Flash-forward to the month of January 2002, and things didn't look much better. An eleventh-hour deal with Moto XXX provided him with a ride in the 250cc Supercross and National series, but then there was that little matter of trying to regain his confidence. Fortunately, through hard work and perseverance, Wey picked up the pieces and put it all back together. A strong eighth-place finish in the ultra-competitive 250cc Supercross Series (Wey was also top privateer), and a formidable attack on the 250cc nationals (he placed 12th but missed four Nationals due to a tweaked knee) made him a wanted man during this summer's silly season. Yesterday afternoon while on the set of the movie Charlie's Angels II: Full Throttle, we sat down with Wey. Taking a breather from doing some stunt riding before the Panavisons, Wey got Racer X up to speed on what he's been up to and to what we can expect from him in 2003.

Racer X: Nick, what are you doing here on the set of Charlie's Angels II?
Nick Wey: Well, I knew [stunt coordinator] Chris Tuck because he used to come to the races quite a bit when I rode for Mitch Payton's team in 1998 - my first year as a professional. I met him then, and he was a real good guy, and we kind of became friends. I talked to him at Las Vegas this year, and he told me he was going to have some stuff going on with some riding for this Charlie's Angels movie. So he gave me a call. I was pretty pumped to be able to be involved and to be able to ride out here.

Do you have a role in the movie, are you doubling for someone, or are you just riding as yourself?
I'm doubling for one of the characters, but I can't talk about it. It's a really good experience to see how movies are made and to be a part of it. We just saw a clip of how all the riding stuff will look when it's all put together, and it looked amazing to all of us.

Word is that you guys have been on the set out here for three weeks....
Yeah, it's kind of been a little bit long, but the days I've had off I've been spending riding and trying to get ready for the U.S. Open. I'm feeling pretty good riding, and hopefully I'll do a pretty good job there. But hopefully this movie is going to be really cool, because [second unit director] Mick Rogers and Tuck have been around racing for so long, and I think the movie is going to portray a positive image of racing and freestyle. There's racing in it and also freestyle parts with guys like Clifford [Adoptante] and Trevor [Vines] and Mad Michael John ... Jones.

Mad Michael John?
Yeah, that's the new name Jones is going by. Make sure to let everyone know [laughs].

So what's your program for the U.S. Open this weekend?
This weekend I'll be riding for Moto XXX. My dad will be my mechanic, and this will be my last race this year for Moto XXX. I can't say enough for how much those guys helped me out this year. It was a great team to be a part of, and I think we had some pretty solid results. I didn't do as well as I would have liked outdoors, but an injury kind of slowed me down at the beginning. But I think I gained a little bit of momentum there towards the end. I had a decent year in all and gained some more support for 2003.

I talked to you a number of times before the 2002 Supercross Series started. In fact one day at the Yamaha test track, you seemed really down on yourself and knew that your back was up against the wall in 2003. When things started off well for you in supercross last winter, were you able to take a deep breath and get your confidence back?
Yeah, I still would have liked to have done better, but any time you're making progress and you feel like you're bettering your riding - even if it's just a little bit - you start thinking positively. You think, like, At least I'm getting better and working in the right direction, which is to be winning. In the middle of the Nationals in 2001, I was really struggling and didn't have any answers. This year was a good year for me. I didn't do as good as I would have liked, injuries slowed me down, and a I had a few problems here and there. But all in all, I gained some good experience in the 250 class. I felt like I was making progress all year long. I think my riding picked up quite a bit, and I'm looking forward to 2003 and a little more help.

Back in March, you were approached by Team Suzuki to see if you would be interested in riding Kevin Windham's works 250 for the remainder of the supercross series. While some details involving your position on the Moto XXX team kept you from taking the ride, it had to be flattering to once again be back on the factory radar screens.
It was. I was doing pretty decent at the time, and Suzuki didn't have anybody riding because Pastrana and Windham were out. Suzuki needed someone who could come in and get a Suzuki in the main and push up into the top 10 or even top five. I tried their bike, and think I could have done pretty well. It was a pretty good bike, but in the end it didn't work out with the sponsors at Moto XXX, who backed me up from the beginning. It would have been a great opportunity, but I really like my Yamahas. The bikes are awesome, and I'm looking forward to riding them another year.

When did you begin to receive offers for the 2003 season?
I had quite a few offers on the support level. Nothing from the factories. But Yamaha really stepped up and are going to help me with some suspension and some parts here and there that make a pretty big difference. I'm hoping this will help quite a bit in closing the gap to the factory bikes. I'm also looking forward to doing a little more testing this year.

So who will you be riding for in 2003?
I talked to Keith McCarty during the Nationals, and he told me he was interested in trying to find a place for me somewhere. There was even talk of me riding for the Yamaha of Troy team exclusively on a 250. Yamaha wanted to have more riders on their bikes in 2003, and then talk of starting another support team began. A team called Mach 1 - a big dealership in Northern California - had been racing the past few years, and this year they raced with Craig Decker. They decided they wanted to step up. Yamaha felt that they had what it took to take things to the next level, so Yamaha has gotten behind them. In the meantime, Mach 1 has gotten all their sponsors aligned and just bought an 18-wheel truck.

Will the team be based in Northern California?
I'm not sure if there is going to be a race shop - that's still kind of in the works. But I know I'll be based down here in the Corona area during the winter months, just trying to get everything sorted out and to do some training and testing for the upcoming season.

So Yamaha is heavily involved through the motorcycles, technical support, and the test track?
Yes, exactly. Then Mach 1 will be in charge of bringing the bikes to the races and the management side of it all.

And you'll draw a salary and contingency money?
Yeah, I'm not going to be able to ride for any privateer money, because my contract is through Yamaha.

Will you have a teammate?
Yeah, it will be me and Heath Voss. It's going to be cool, because it's just going to be us two guys, are we're going to get a lot of attention and the support that I think both of us need to get to the next level.

Do you guys know one another well?
I see him around at the races and talk to him here and there, and he seems like a real nice guy. I'm looking forward to racing alongside of him and putting the Mach 1 bikes up front.

What are Yamaha's hope for you?
Yamaha wants to focus on supercross in 2003. I think me and Heath can do a pretty good job for them. Most of the attention goes toward the supercross season, rather than the Nationals, so I think Yamaha is really focusing on that and wants Heath and I to do well and draw attention to the bikes and overall program.

What bike will you ride next season?
I'll ride the 450 outdoors and the 250 in supercross.

Through all the ups and downs you went through last, do you feel like a different, and maybe mature, person?
Yeah, I feel like a lot of the stuff has really, like you said, matured me. I understand things a lot more now. The last couple of years I've learned a lot about the motorcycle, but I've also learned a lot about being a professional racer. I don't want to be where I was this time last year, not knowing where I was going to ride. I'm really excited about next year and going out there and putting everything I have into it. I'm really excited to be on the Mach 1 team and with Yamaha. I want to be a winner, and I know I have it in me. I'll do whatever it takes to do it. I've taken my lumps along the way, but I think it's going to come to me.

Your situation reminds me a lot of what Tim Ferry went through a number of years ago. He had the factory rides, lost his way a little bit, and then fought his way back. Today, Tim is probably one of the five best riders in the world. Do you see a parallel there between him and yourself?
Yeah, mine and Timmy's situation is pretty similar. Maybe I'm a little younger than he was when he had his down time, but yeah, I wouldn't change how everything has gone for anything. I think I've learned a lot from it. I'm way stronger mentally, and I've matured a lot as a person. I really respect Timmy. He kept his head down and believed in himself when nobody else did. And like you said, he's a top-five guy in the world right now. Obviously I have tons of respect for him. He kept with it and he's still giving it his all.

 

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