Rider Spotlight: Nichole Cheza
NEWS July 5, 2012
Photo by Dave Hoenig
AMAP: Where are you from?
NC: I’m from Clio, Michigan. I’ve lived there pretty my whole life. A lot of racers come from Michigan, so it was pretty cool living there and growing up with riders like Scotty Parker and Jay Springsteen. I have pictures from when I raced my PW-50 on the ice and Scott Parker’s next to me on his XR-750.
AMAP: How old were you when you got into riding motorcycles?
NC: My dad got me a PW-50 for Christmas when I was four. Right away, I wanted to go out and race it. I grew up at the racetrack. My dad was big into motocross, so that was our first venture. When I was eight, my dad’s friends convinced him to let me try dirt tracking, and I really loved it. When I got on the 80s and 125s, my dad made me decide which I wanted to do more, either motocross or flat track. I chose flat track because it was just so much fun and I got to race with the guys all the time. I get to race with the best of the best, so flat track pulled me in that direction.
AMAP: What are your thoughts on being a female in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Expert Class?
NC: I think a lot of people thought it might not be possible. There were some females before me that came from motocross to ride flat track. Not too many of them rode the Harley-Davidsons week in and week out. When I started racing Pro Singles and finished well, I knew I could do it. I got a Harley-Davidson ride at 16 years old. I fell in love with it. I knew I’d have to up my strength, so I got into the gym and started working out. Then Scott Parker and Global Products came along and became a part of my team. My dad worked on the bikes and helped put them together. I made my first main 7-7-07. Every year since, we’ve made big improvements. It’s been a rough start since I had that huge crash on the mile, as it kind of intimidated me a little bit, but we’re over it and I’ve got my confidence back. Now we’re out to do well and win a race this year.
AMAP: Tell us about the incident at Springfield and when we can expect to see you back on track..
NC: The incident at Springfield was unfortunate. I was feeling really good and was second fastest in qualifying and got fourth in my heat. I had a hard time drafting the Kawasakis, so I knew I had to get a good start. When the race started, I was going on the outside of Robinson on the first turn, and I think someone got into the inside of him. Then my handlebar got stuck in his boot. It was history after that. Then Sammy Halbert and Robert Pearson behind us went off the track too. I ended up breaking the L1 & L2 in my back. I’m healing really well. I expected the healing to be longer than it was, but I’m back in the gym. I’m shooting to get back on track this weekend in Hagerstown. If not, I’ll be in Sacramento.
AMAP: Are you more of a mile / half-mile rider or TT / short track rider?
NC: I really like the miles and half-miles more than the TTs and short tracks. They can be more physically demanding than the larger tracks. One of my favorite tracks is Knoxville, Iowa. It’s a great track that has plenty of race action. Another track I like a lot is Lima, Ohio.. So it was unfortunate I missed out on it last weekend.
AMAP: There aren’t too many females that compete in AMA Pro Flat Track. Have you noticed any differences when it comes to you as a racer when compared to other expert class riders?
NC: A lot of people make comments, “You rode great for a girl.” I feel like I’m just as competitive as they are. I’m just as eager to get back on the bike as the guys would be. Obviously, my strength is a little down, but I train just as hard as them. If it comes to a last lap pass, I’m going to rub them just as hard as they’d rub me as another male racer out there.
AMAP: What are some expectations you’re setting for yourself for the rest of the 2012 season?
NC: Definitely to get all my confidence back in the next race or two. Since my incident at Springfield, I want to get all my confidence back. Our goal is to make all the main events and finish top-10 in the twins points. From there, one of my major goals is to win a race.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
NC: I love the speed, competition and beating the boys. Another great thing in our sport is how involved the fans are. They come down to the pits for fan walk and get to interact, buy t-shirts and posters. I love how all the kids come around my tent. It shows how much of a family sport we are, and that’s what I like. I love the speed, racing against the boys and beating them when I can!
AMAP: For all the female flat track riders aspiring to becoming pro one day, what advice could you give them?
NC: I actually went to an event at Black Hills H-D, and a lot of the girls were either first time riders or haven’t ridden and wanted to get into it. I told them that I’d been doing it since I was four years old. If a four year old can do it, you can do it. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. I encourage anybody to at least go out and try it once.
AMAP: Who is your racing hero?
NC: I’d have to say Scott Parker and Jay Springsteen just because they were in the area, and Scott really helped me line up my sponsors to get my twins program where it’s at.
NC: All this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my sponsors. I’d like to thank them for all their support: Global Products, Black Hills Harley-Davidson, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Mr. Sign, Mark Cheza, Christy Webber Landscapes, Vanson Leathers, Shoei Helmets, Silkolene, G2 Ergonomics, K&N Airfilters, Motion Pro, Gunk,Bill's Machining Service, Saddlemen, Wiseco Pistons, Gene and Gail Cummings, Esjot Sprockets, KK Motorcycle Supply, West Coast Hot Shoes, Cometic Gaskets.