The last few years have been a challenge for Nico Izzi. The former Suzuki standout has publically grappled with drug addiction and other issues in his personal life, but with the help of his family, friends, and Kevin Kolb of Sick Recovery Racing, things are headed in the right direction. He currently spends much of his time riding and training with his father and other young racers in the Southeast, and returned to action at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm. Is this the start of a new chapter for Nico? During our interview, he told us that he would like to race the 2017 Supercross series.
Nico it’s great to see you again. What have you been up to?
Just riding dirt bikes again, man!
There was a video up on Racer X of you riding a few months ago, but since then you’ve flown under the radar.
Yeah, I went back to Georgia at that time and the last six to eight months have been extremely crucial for me. Going to Sick Recovery with Kevin Kolb really helped me out. After that, I went home and started training with my dad at my facility back in Albany. I’ve got two bikes now along with some support, so I’ve just been riding and having fun.
So what brought you out here to Straight Rhythm?
I was actually going to race at the Monster Energy Cup, but we showed up too late because our van broke down on the way. It’s actually been a bit of a wild ride to get to this point, but after missing the Monster Cup, we stayed out here all week to do Straight Rhythm.
Are you riding every day through the week, now?
At least a good three to five days a week is what I usually do.
Is it fun having these younger kids around?
Yeah, I see myself in a lot of those kids, and it lights a fire under me because I really like to help them out. All of us have such a great relationship and it’s an extremely rewarding feeling to help out the youngsters.
Over the last few years, you’ve been extremely open and transparent with the issues that you’ve faced in your life…
Yeah, I think so too, but some people think that I’ve really hurt my career with my honesty. It’s one of those things that’s really hard to hide once it gets to a certain point, and there are more people than you think that struggle with the problems that I’ve had. All you can really do though is take the most out of each day. I’m moving on and I’m learning from those mistakes.
Have you had a lot of good feedback from everyone regarding the struggles you’ve overcome?
Yeah, it’s been great. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me on social media. Some of which have actually asked me what I did to help my situation. It’s a great feeling to see that you can be an inspiration to some people who’ve been fighting the same problem. It’s not an easy thing to overcome, and it’s something that you’ll never understand unless you’ve dealt with it firsthand. It is what it is, but it’s made me who I am today.
Some people think that this a problem that the sport needs to watch out for because every rider has or will deal with injuries. From a guy that’s lived it, is it that gnarly?
Yeah, I believe it is. It’s not just in motocross either, as every type of athlete has dealt with injuries. If you’ve experienced a lot of injuries and surgeries, then you’re playing with fire. This kind of thing is happening everywhere, and it’s as simple as swallowing a pill. After a while, though, your body will become immune to these painkillers and it begins to snowball from there. That road is a dead end that takes you nowhere. It’s important to live your life!
Who are some of the people that have helped you out the most over the last year or so?
To be honest, my parents for taking me back in knowing how severe the situation was. It’s a gnarly story, dude, and it blows my mind that it got to that point. I owe everything to my parents and Kevin from Sick Recovery. Kevin really dealt with my BS for a while, so it wasn’t easy, but we got to a solid foundation where I can finally move forward.
In a roundabout way, motocross has gotten you into this position, but knowing that you could get on the bike to be one of the best in the world has to be some motivation, right?
Yeah, that’s what I was telling my mechanic. At one point I felt that I had so much talent, but I was struggling just as much with my personal problems. It blows my mind to think that I couldn’t put that stuff down for the benefit of my career. I feel like I had so much going for me, but I never realized it. It’s crazy to think that there’s something out there that powerful, but being able to return to racing with a few good opportunities along with the people that really care about me has been great. I couldn’t be more thankful for them because it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be here without them. I am extremely grateful for everything they’ve done.
Is this one race of many for you, or was this just a one time deal?
No, I’m planning on doing the entire 450 Supercross series. I think I have enough support, but we’re still trying to obtain as much as we can. It never hurts to get a little more than what you already have. I’ve really enjoyed returning to racing, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I feel like I’m even having more fun this time around because I’ve learned from a few mistakes.
So will we be seeing a lot more of you, then?
That’s the plan! I just want to stay healthy and I want to take it one day at a time.