Racing’s a drug man, ask anyone that’s done it. Chances are that if you’re reading this you’ve been behind the gate, revs high, waiting to haul ass into the first turn. Chances are you love it and re-live it every single day too. You know how you try to explain racing dirt bikes to your non-dirt bike friends and they look at you like you’re a weirdo? Yeah, you’re hooked bro.
Nick Wey’s got absolutely nothing to prove in the sport. At thirty-four years old, turning thirty-five this year, he’s had a tremendous career in the sport. A factory rider for many years, Wey’s been, at his peak, a consistent top five 450 rider and the last few years a team owner who’s also a racer. He’s been someone that since his rookie year of 1998 has experienced the grind of the travel, the training, the ups and downs of racing.
It was supposed to be all over with when Wey was unable to keep his own team going this year and pulled the pin on his racing career. There was no shame in that, Nick’s got tons of money in the bank, he’s the oldest rider out there and it was time. We were all happy for him, we wrote glowing columns about his time in the sport, added up his races (three hundred and eight-six total starts in SX and MX by the way) and wished him well.
However, he wasn’t done yet.
When Jake Weimer of the Tedder Kawasaki team got picked up by RCH Suzuki to fill the spot of the injured Broc Tickle the team reached out to Wey, a familiar face, to see if he was interested in coming aboard. The fact that Wey said yes was not a surprise, to be honest, because amid all the stories, articles and podcasts about his wonderful career, he never, ever quite slammed the door on his own career like we all did. In the NFL, your career is not considered over until you officially file your retirement papers. Let’s just say there that there was no chance Wey filed his papers.
“I kind of had my heart set on racing this year, and then kind of some stuff didn’t make sense. Last minute some sponsors didn’t really do what I was expecting and then it didn’t make sense for me to do my own thing. I kind of had my heart set on it, and then it didn’t really work out. I needed to make financial sense of it. It’s expensive to do it on my own for sure" said Wey after Toronto last weekend where, in his second race back, he ran as high as tenth before ending up fourteenth in the main event.
Wey’s always been in tune with his motorcycle, sometimes to his determent if you ask me but that’s another story, so it’s no surprise that when the folks at Showa suspension needed a test rider to develop its brand new air fork, they rang up Wey and this past off-season, the work started.
From what I can gather (none of it from Wey who’s bound to secrecy) the new fork is an air/spring hybrid and Showa’s hoping to stop those wave of riders (Trey Canard, Cole Seely, Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac among others) from getting off Showa. The suspension wars are in full effect in the pits and Wey’s got some of the trickest and rarest stuff. So Wey’s been working on that all off-season and felt pretty good. He’s been on Kawasaki’s for a while now and so when Tedder called, he answered.
“I did a lot of riding in the off-season with Jake, and I know the Tedder guys well" says Wey. “Matt Tedder gave me the opportunity. They lease engines from Pro Circuit and I have works Showa suspension, so I figured I have a good bike and I’ll see what we can do."
“My goal was to be in the top ten. I was pretty far off that. I got some work to do, which I knew that. I haven’t really been on the grind really. I’m excited about it because my bike’s good and the Showa guys helped me a bunch. We’ve got some fine-tuning that we did during the day that helped. We made a fair bit of progress this last week because we have a new fork that we’re working on."
So Wey’s back for supercross this year and coming into his hometown race of Detroit this weekend with some momentum from a nice ride in Toronto. Wey wasn’t happy with his ride, but that’s the way he’s always been. Nothing is ever complete with Nick, there’s always a way he can get faster out on the track, get his bike working the way he wants and be better himself. He’s a driven man, how else do you explain him not letting go when all signs point to it being over?
He’s addicted, it’s that simple and for Nick Wey success lies ahead to that next weekend when he gets to race his dirt bike for a living.
“I understand I can’t race forever," he told me after Toronto. But does he really?
Welcome back to the game Nick, it missed you as much as you missed it.
Words: Steve Matthes | Images: Tyler Spikeman