MPG / DAILY BREAD / MARCH 7, 2017
This is a pivotal year in the career of Nick Tomasunas. The Michigan native is moving up to the A class and finally coming into a season of racing fully fit with a positive mindset; he blew out his ACL in a Schoolboy moto at Loretta’s in 2014 and subsequently experienced an unfortunate streak of injuries and surgeries that left him on the couch until 2016. By the time he had healed up and been declared fully fit, he struggled to find the drive to go racing and decided to take a step back and just enjoy his life and the time he was able to spend on his bike. After a healthy bit of soul searching, Tomasunas found a renewed sense of confidence and drive to pursue his dream of racing professionally and he’s coming into the 2017 season more prepared than ever. He put together his own training program down in Florida alongside a part-time job in order to help fund his racing career, keeping him humble and providing a little extra incentive to do well at the races. Tomasunas had one of the best weeks of his career down at the 45th Annual Thor Winter Olympics where he grabbed a third overall in 250 B Limited SX and a sixth overall in 450 B Limited MX, providing him with loads of confidence heading into the new year. We caught up with Nick to chat about when he decided to take racing a little bit more seriously, the mental struggles of sitting out multiple years with an injury, and where he hopes to be throughout the 2017 season.
How old were you when you got your first motorcycle?
I think I got my first bike on my third birthday, but I didn’t start taking racing seriously until I was about fifteen or sixteen or so.
What do you remember about your first race?
Actually my first race...I think I won my first moto and then the second moto I was too scared to race, so I didn’t finish it I guess. I don’t know what I was really scared of, I was more nervous. I think I was like eight or nine and I just didn’t really like racin’, so I won and then kinda dipped out.
You’re from Michigan but decided to move down to a couple different facilities in the south to train full time and take racing a bit more seriously. When did you make the move down south and how beneficial was that to your riding?
I started out going to GPF when I was fifteen for my first year at Loretta’s for their boot camp and after that I did terrible at Loretta’s -- I got like thirtieth. Later that year I went to the Baja Brawl and ended up beating Alex Frye, Austin Forkner, and Aaron Plessinger...and we decided then that I actually needed to take it serious and I started going to Club MX. We kinda moved on from there down to MTF and I stayed down at MTF until about last year.
How important was training full time to help develop your skills?
Since I was from Michigan I didn’t really get to ride year round, so moving down to those facilities definitely helped being able to ride all the time. Y’know, before I got to those facilities I was doing it all on my own. I didn’t really have a strict diet or anything -- being able to ride with the fast guys, have nutritionists, and gym trainers, and all that helped my program a lot.
What do you do for training now?
I’m just doin’ my own thing right now. I live about twenty minutes from Climax, so I go out there pretty much once or twice a week, I go to GPF, and then I’m able to hit WW on the weekends or something like that.
So, having experiences at all those facilities -- have you kind of combined all of their philosophies into your own program?
I’ve definitely taken what I learned from those facilities and implemented it into my own program. I mean, I wasn’t really a fan of the whole training facility thing -- I don’t know why, but it didn’t fit my program, y’know. So, I like to do my own thing and stay on my own schedule, and it seems to be workin’ a lot better.
What’s a day in the life like for you from sun up to sun down?
Right now it really depends ‘cause I’m working, but like if I’m not then I’ll probably get up around 6:30 - 7:00ish, warm up, and then I’ll head out to Climax or GPF or something, put in my motos, come home and eat some lunch, head to the gym, and after that just chill out and do some stretching.
What do you get into the evening when you’re not busy working or training?
I’m kinda getting into a little bit of video editing and stuff like that. I mess around with all the kids at GPF makin’ little instagram edits and stuff like that. I kinda like to do that and I seem to be gettin’ pretty good at it, so I dig doin’ that, and maybe once in awhile I’ll go play some PS4 or somethin’.
What do you do for work at the moment?
I work for this company that works with my Mom’s work -- it’s like blowing out leaves, power washing parking garages and stuff. The work kinda sucks, but it’s money in my pocket and I like it ‘cause it keeps me humble, y’know. It reminds me of all the stuff that my parents do for me and how much it actually takes to be able to do this sport, and how much money it costs. It opened up my eyes -- I realized that being able to ride a dirt bike all the time is a pretty cool job. Working has made me want to go out and be more successful as a racer and put in more effort.
Yeah, Christian Craig retired from racing, went to work a real job, and came back to makin’ podiums straight away.
That actually is kinda what made me go out and get a job. I saw what he could do and I was like “My parents are struggling for money, I’m struggling for money. If he can do it, why can’t I?”
Is there anything in particular that you’re focusing on with your riding heading into Daytona?
Starts. That’s all that matters to me right now -- my fitness is great, my speed’s pretty good as long as I’m up front, so all I need to do is get a good start and I should be able to go out and do what I need to do.
How has it been moving up to the A class this year now that you’ve got some racing under your belt?
I wouldn’t really say it’s more difficult, but I’d say the competition is a little more consistent. It’s not so much different ‘cause I’ve been racing those kids for the better part of my career -- it’s just that they’ve become a lot more consistent, and a lot of the top kids are always up there in front with their starts, so that’s all that matters really.
You got two top five overalls in the LLAQ at WW Moto Ranch, how’d the racing go for you down there?
It was alright. I mean, I wouldn’t really say I was happy with my results but it was a decent weekend, and it’s just a qualifier. All I need to do at a qualifier is qualify, so I took my experience from there and learned from it. Actually my 250 blew up after my second moto, so we had to go and get that fixed. But yeah, I learned from my experiences at WW and I’m just gonna try to improve from it.
You had a pretty awesome week of racing at Mini-O’s this past year and you ended up with a third overall in the 250 B Limited class in SX and a sixth overall in 450 B Limited outdoors, how’d the week go down at Gatorback?
Yeah, they went pretty good. I wasn’t really expecting anything ‘cause the better part of 2016 I didn’t even really wanna race or ride. So, I kinda went into Mini-O’s kinda like not putting any pressure on myself and I ended up coming away with a podium and a sixth -- the other classes I don’t even know what I got, I had a few bike problems and stuff -- but I was pretty pumped on that podium. It actually kinda felt like a win to me with everything I’ve been through these past few years.
Could you elaborate a little more on what kept you from wanting to race?
Well, it all started in 2014 of Loretta’s...first lap, first moto of Schoolboy 2 and I came together with another rider in a corner, and blew out my ACL. That took about six months to recover, but that wasn’t really a big deal for me. I was just wanted to learn from it and take 2015 and go out and do what I needed to do. 2015 was goin’ great; I was killin’ it at all my regionals and all the races I was goin’ to and then I got cross jumped by another rider, and ended up breaking my femur pretty bad. I went in for my first surgery on that and the surgeon actually screwed it up -- the bones weren’t connected to the rod, so I pretty much just had a rod in my leg with nothing around it. We go in and fix that again and after that second surgery I got an infection, so we had to get rid of that. Then I ended up with a blood clot and that was two more surgeries, and then after that we kinda spent the rest of 2015 tryin’ to rehab. I actually came close to losing my entire leg -- they said twenty-four hours more with that infection and I would have lost my entire leg from the hip down, so that really opened up my eyes. I mean, it kinda burnt me out on racing but it opened my eyes to what’s important in life: family, friends, and just enjoying yourself.
So, was it the same thing kind of eating at you mentally in 2016 that kept you from racing?
Actually, the day of my first surgery for my leg while my Mother was driving down to go see me in the hospital, she got a call and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully they got rid of that, but just the injury and her problems and everything kinda mentally just ruined me. After 2015 and at the beginning of 2016, I just wanted to ride and have fun; I didn’t wanna race and train and all that...y’know, keep it simple and enjoy myself for once.
What inspired you to come back to racing and to take things more seriously again?
I wouldn’t really say anything inspired me, I’ve always kinda had that drive in me. I got over it mentally and decided I only have one chance to do this, I might as well go out and give it my all -- do it to the full extent, y’know.
What’s up with the all white gear you’re rockin’?
Canvas MX does my gear -- the all white gear, and a lot of people have been asking me about that. That kinda came up in the hospital when I was sittin’ there with my Mom, I was like “Y’know, if I make a comeback to racing after this I wanna catch people’s attention, like who’s that guy?” It took a while to think of it, but we came up with the all white idea. At first it was supposed to be all back, but all white on a dirt bike just seems like it catches your eye a little bit more. We contacted Mike Leib over at Canvas and talked to him a little bit, and he started hookin’ me up.
What’re your goals/expectations for the major nationals that you’ll be attending this year?
My main goal is to just stay healthy and get consistent results. I know if I’m on top of my game both mentally and physically, I’m definitely a top five - top ten guy. I have the talent and skill that it takes to be up there, it just depends on my mental side really. This sport is so mental that if you don’t have that side down or your mental strength isn’t at one hundred percent, then you won’t be able to compete where you need to be.
Who would you like to thank for helping you out?
Mom & Dad, Canvas MX, TCD Racing, 139 Designs, Vonzipper
/ Words / Lake Kilpatrick
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