Run at the Nationals

Nick Saussy missed the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship last year by one spot at the regional qualifier in California.

In two weeks, the 39-year-old Maui resident will compete in two divisions – men’s 30 and 35 – at the event that will be held July 27 to Aug. 2 at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

“I’m from Tennessee, so it’s cool to get to go home and go race,” Saussy said Monday.

Saussy has been racing motocross since he moved to Maui in 1997.

“A couple of friends bought their bikes, and it looked like they were having fun, man,” Saussy said. “I joined in and haven’t looked back.”

Saussy made his way to the nationals through an area qualifier on Oahu and then regionals in California. He finished first and second in his divisions in Kahuku and then made his way through the regionals with third- and fourth-place finishes.

“I tried last year and missed it by one spot (at regionals),” Saussy said. “So I actually took my sixth-place trophy and put it next to my computer for about a year – stared at it.”

Saussy is the president of the Maui Motocross Association, which holds nine race weekends per year at the motor sports complex in Puunene.

“I have been able to bring in some pro riders to teach us all how to get a little bit faster,” Saussy said.

Saussy ships his 450cc bike to the Mainland for races.

“I think the biggest question I got in California was, ‘How much did it cost to bring your bike over?’ ” he said. “I flew it over, so it cost me about $600 one way.”

He will ship his bike to Tennessee, as well.

“That will take about $700 each way,” he said. “I haven’t shipped it yet, so I could have it here for practice a little longer.”

He makes it to the track three times a week to work out. He is a bartender at Flatbread Co. in Paia, and his employers, among others, have been helpful with his racing.

“Donnie Arnoult of Maui Cyclery in Paia has been real helpful,” Saussy said. “Flatbread – I work there and they have been helping me out. Favella Motorsports is my mechanic.”

The Maui club has grown since its beginning in 1998. Brieana Gomes became the first member of the club to qualify for nationals last year – Saussy is the second.

“It’s cool that Maui’s representing a little bit, going over there,” Saussy said. “It’s good riding out here, it’s super competitive. Everybody is pretty fast.”

Pre-race practice is limited on the Loretta Lynn Ranch course.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Saussy said. “There are only two events per year there, so there really is no home-track advantage. Probably the biggest battle there will be dealing with the heat and humidity. It has already been, like, 95 degrees with 95 percent humidity recently there.”

His recent workouts have been geared with nationals in mind.

“Every time I go out now I start with a 40-minute moto, just ride as hard as I can,” Saussy said. “The races at nationals last 20 minutes, then two more laps, so 25-26 minutes total.”

He will be in Tennessee with a trophy in mind.

“You have got to race to win,” he said. “It’s my first time, so I’m going to enjoy the experience. It’s racing, so everybody’s always got a chance.”

* Robert Collias can be reached at