By Brendan Lutes
Photos by TWMX Staff
It’s hard to remember a season with as many injured riders as this year. The list runs from factory to privateer, no name rider to superstar. While we have gotten to see new talent land on the podium, it still makes one wonder what the point standings would look like with just a few more regular names on the gate each Saturday. One racer that had the potential to scale through the rankings was favorite Nick Wey. But just after eclipsing a landmark 150 main events, Wey’s season come to a halt. The fan favorite has battled a nagging back injury since the second round of the year, and the issue escalated when a get-off at Indianapolis forced Wey to the sidelines. Not having the leader of the “Michigan Mafia” in the pits has made the paddock, well, quiet. We caught up with Wey, who will again sit out this weekend, and to hear about his injury, his program with David Vuillemin, and when we can expect him to see the “27” back on the line.
How had your season gone until your injury?
My season starting out was not the best. I had some tough luck at the first couple of races and got landed on at Phoenix and wasn't able to finish. My back has been bothering me since and I have a hematoma, like a softball-sized knot, in my lower back. I had a hard time from there trying to regroup, and getting to the race every week after that was pretty tough because I was so sore. Things started turning around and I had some good races before I got hurt. I was 10th at a few races and probably should have been better than that because I was qualifying well. I looked forward to finishing out the season strong, but at Indy, my back had been nagging me all year since the crash at Phoenix and I was having a hard time in practice. I got a pain masking shot before the night show and three-quarters of a lap into the heat race, I made a mistake and slipped a foot peg and I fell off the one side. I ended up tearing the muscle up through my groin and into my lower abdomen. I am just battling that right now and was doing as much therapy as I could to get ready for Toronto, but that was not even close to happening. I feel quite a bit better this week, but I still don't have the strength to get up there and compete with those guys. I haven't touched the bike since Indy, so I am going to sit this one out again and come back ready to rip in New Orleans.
It seems like you have been struggling with injuries over the last couple of seasons. Has that been frustrating for you?
Yeah, and with this injury, you are like, "I tore a muscle, I got this." But it is super painful to begin with and I couldn't lift my legs. I had to be lifted into my truck, but it is amazing that in two weeks I have made a big turn around. We do a lot of training, to not only perform at our best, but for when you hit the ground or have a stumble in a corner. We do a lot of racing in the year and the training isn't only to be strong in the moto, but to be healthy throughout the year. This time, I took some time off and got things sorted out to see what is causing all of these issues that I have had with my back these last couple of years. I am going to get it to where it is manageable throughout the season, and then at the end of the season I am going to have surgery to get it cleaned up.
On a positive note, you hit a milestone of 150 main events. What is it like to hit that number, after doing it for so long?
It is pretty cool to get that many main events. Obviously, I try hard to do my best and when someone brought it to my attention I was like, "I wish I could have accomplished more at this point and gotten some race wins." But at Daytona, they gave me a statue of all of my finishes throughout all of my years in the big bike class, which is all they count towards the 150. I had like 95 top 10's, 30 top fives, and four podiums. It's not terrible and I would love to continue to build on those podium and top five numbers. And hopefully after this injury, I can get some work in and go after it.
When do you think you will be back from the current injury that you have?
Well, the flights to New Orleans were pretty expensive and I booked those last night, so I will definitely be going there. It’s go time (Laughs). I used my airline miles for one and bought the other for David Vuillemin, because he has been helping me out with my riding.
How did David Vuillemin helping you come about?
I have known "DV" for years and of him being an intense competitor. When I saw him at the track when I rode Yamahas, he would always working on stuff, whether it was technique or doing "one laps" only. Back then, we just rode, because we didn't have trainers, and he always had a lot of instruction from his Dad. He had gotten a lot of race wins and things like that, so I had respect for him and what he could do, but I was like, "I don't know if I like this guy." Then I rode for the MDK team and he was a teammate of mine, and I warmed up to him a bit. I think the thing that I need to work on myself is just speed and to get faster with that stuff, I figured we would break it down into basics. I always talked to him at the races about a few things and I gave him a call to see if he would be interested in helping me out. We have been working together since a few rounds into the Supercross season, and he has helped quite a bit. I appreciate his help and I go to the track motivated because I feel like I am going to improve every time. And we have a good time. He is so strongly opinionated about everything and I am lighthearted, so when we are arguing, I just end up cracking up.
What are your expectations when you come back? Are you going to build on what you had before you were injured?
Yeah, totally. I was headed in the right direction and I was battling with the guys I wanted to race. I was qualifying in the top ten, which is typically tough for me to do. I have gotten finishes in the top five many times after I qualified 15th or so in the time practice. I have been putting a lot of work in the technique and my speed, and I think my fitness will be fine once I get more efficient on the bike with the new technique. I am excited to get out there and do some work and then start racing in New Orleans. I am ready to get back out there, because it sucks watching it on TV (Laughs).