Oklahoma native Colt Nichols entered the 2014 AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, season as one of the championship’s most high profile rookies in the Road to Supercross program. Nichols was signed on as the newest member of the successful Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis team, joining veterans Zach Ames and Tyler Bowers, the defending three-time AMSOIL Arenacross Champion.
With two of the sport’s most consistent and well-respected riders as teammates and an elite team to race for, Nichols was given the tools to achieve success almost immediately. While it took some time to adjust to incredible pace and physical battles that are the norm in the world’s most intense racing, Nichols made improvements each week and even had to learn the hard way that nothing is given in AMSOIL Arenacross when he failed to qualify for the Arenacross Class Main Event in Louisville, Ky.
Nichols handled his hard luck like a seasoned veteran and took the opportunity to build off that misfortune and come back stronger. Just last weekend in Greensboro, N.C., Nichols did just that, running at the front of the field all night long and breaking through for his first Main Event win. When all was said and done, Nichols stood on his first career AMSOIL Arenacross podium in second overall. Thanks to the tutelage of former AMSOIL Arenacross Champion and fellow Oklahoma native Robbie Reynard, Nichols is on the rise and ready to take the next step towards cementing himself as an AMSOIL Arenacross star.
AMSOIL Arenacross caught up with Colt to get his thoughts on the season so far and his outlook on the remainder of the 2014 championship for this installment of “10 Questions.”
1. Describe the feeling of breaking through for your first career AMSOIL Arenacross Main Event win and overall podium.
To breakthrough and finally get a Main Event win as well as my first podium with a second was an amazing experience for me. I knew that is where I wanted to be after the first few rounds, but it just didn’t come together for me so to get a second overall was great.
2. How has your adjustment to AMSOIL Arenacross been?
Getting adjusted to the format and how tight and aggressive the racing is took a little time for me to get used to. I am still learning a lot from my teammates and hope to continue to learn and improve.
3. What has been the most important thing you’ve learned?
Racing AMSOIL Arenacross is a lot different than the amateur races I was used to racing up to this point, so figuring out how the racing worked was a big change for me. I am just learning when to almost hold back and when to really go for it and force the issue to make a pass. I don’t want to say you have to be strategic, but you definitely have to be a smart racer.
4. What has been the most difficult thing to deal with and what have you learned from it?
The most difficult thing to deal with so far was not qualifying for the Main Event in Louisville. I went from being the fastest qualifier in practice to not even making the Main. I came back home and worked on tons of starts with my trainer Robbie Reynard at Reynard Training Complex, and that made a huge difference for me.
5. Now that you’ve had success, what are your goals moving forward?
My goals moving forward are to just be consistently up front and continue to get good starts and be in the mix with the guys. I just hope to continue to learn and constantly get better.
6. How much have you been able to learn from Bowers, Ames, and everyone at Team Babbitt’s?
Everybody at Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki has been such a huge help to me. Denny Bartz (Team Manager) has helped me so much with trying to adjust and improve every weekend, as well as my teammates. Tyler and Zach have helped me so much as I continue to learn and grow into a better racer and get adjusted. I couldn’t be happier with the team and my teammates as well.
7. Are you surprised with the success of the Road to Supercross competitors? What do you think contributes to what you all have achieved so far?
I’m not necessarily surprised at how well myself and the other rookies have done. The amateur racing is top notch, so when kids like myself and the other rookies come in to race we are as ready as ever. I came into this series hungry to do good and turn some heads, so I think when it is all said and done I will have done just that.
8. What is your favorite thing about racing in AMSOIL Arenacross?
The racing has been unreal so far and seeing the arenas packed with fans has been a really cool experience for me as well.
9. How much different, if at all, have things been this season compared to what you expected them to be?
It is just a lot different, honestly. It’s not what I expected with how physical and tight the racing is, but I am getting adjusted and can’t wait for the races ahead.
10. Is there a story behind the #45 and why you chose it? Is “Colt 45” a nickname we should get used to saying?
The 45 was just a number that happened to come up so I decided to take it. A long time arenacross racer named Colt Humphrey was from around my area [in Oklahoma] and he was also number 45. He was the man to me back when I was a little guy, so it just seemed right.