Feb. 5, 2007

Motocross racing: it's Nick Claire's life

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

With a driving passion for speed behind the wheel, Delano High School senior Nickolas Claire continues to strive towards his goal of becoming a professional motocross racer.

Discovering his love and skill for racing early in life, Nick embraced the hobby that both he and his father, Brian Claire, shared.

When he was younger, Brian recalled, “He (Nick) always had a mini bike.” Brian also shared this trait, having many dirt bikes as a young kid.

“I was never really good at it, but I enjoyed it,” Brian said with a laugh.

With starting at such a young age, the pastime was always father and son. Even if it meant taking time off work, or flying halfway around the country, Brian rarely missed one of Nick’s races.

It was not always this serious, “but once I got serious, they were always behind me,” Nick said.

Nick is extremely grateful for his father’s faith in his career.

“He plays a lot of different roles,” Nick said of his father. “He pretty much gave up what he wanted to do so he could see me succeed.”

During the winter, Nick tries to travel to warmer states such as Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri, where he can race. During the summer, there are always two races every weekend in Minnesota alone, one north and one south of Highway 12.

Every race is a challenge. A racer cannot step onto the bike without accepting the chance of an injury.

Placing his love for racing first, Nick has broken several bones including both his wrists, fingers, ribs, back, collarbone, and many more.

With driving 50 mph on the track, some may question why he continues to gamble his life for a “cool feeling” behind the wheel.

To Nick, injuries are something that could happen in any sport. What matters most is, “if you’re passionate about it,” he said.

When reevaluating his many injuries, Nick replied, “I don’t think about it when it happens. Every time I crash, I get right back up.”

The thought of Nick’s injuries changes when viewed from the angle of his father. When asked, Brian said, “It’s really tough to watch your son be hurt. It’s not an easy thing.”

Each injury that Nick has is harder. The thought of whether or not the next one will be worse will always cross Brian’s mind, but he believes in his son’s talent.

“The longer you’re in it, the harder it is to get out,” Brian stated.

“As long as it kept him away from the drugs and the drinking and the partying, I figured his injures were better than all that,” Brian said.

Nick firmly believes that in order to succeed, a racer must be mentally and physically prepared for injuries.

“They will happen. I’ve never said I don’t want to ride. I’ve always wanted to do it, even when I got hurt,” Nick said.

When Nick first started out, the expenses were very minor. As he grew more interested in racing, the repairs on both the bike and his son almost “got out of hand,” said Brian.

“At the age he’s at now, the bikes are so expensive, and we go through two to three bikes a year,” Brian said. “It takes so much time and money.”

Nick averages a hundred dollars on parts every weekend. The modifications, repairs, traveling, the time spent away from work, and the hotel fare all add up.

Nick was fortunate to meet with Cody Dupole, who took an interest in Nick’s career.

Knowing the family was on a tight budget, Dupole began filling his bikes for free, and he has also taken a role in building Nick’s resume.

Thankful for Dupole’s kindness, Brian said, “All he wants Nick to do is call him and tell him how he’s doing.”

Nick is also grateful to all who help him.

“I have a lot of people that help me out a lot, who find sponsors for me,” he said.

Brian added, “They like him because he’s clean-cut with no tattoos, and he’s good with people, but also because he is so passionate about it.”

Even though there are more motocrossers in Minnesota than any other state in America, the industry is mainly on the west coast.

“I want to go to California. My big goal this year is to try and qualify for outdoor national pro race. I’m going to try and do that this summer,” said Nick.

Both Nick and Brian believe that this decision is the first step to future success. With little desire to attend college, Nick is happy racing and hopes to use his talent to support himself down the road.

“I have a hard time with it,” Brian said about Nick not planning on college. “Hopefully, he’ll find somebody that will recognize that he has some talent.”

The past two years have really been exciting for Nick, as he won the Minnesota state championship in 2005 and he took first in the “World Amateur Finals Race” last October in Las Vegas.

Brian feels very hopeful and encouraging that Nick will bring all his many aspirations to life.

“At some point, he will succeed,” Brian said.

The industry is tough and very few make it. Upon Nick’s thoughts of not attending college, Brian said, “I thought he should go to school, but he really wants to do this, I really don’t know, the next couple years will tell. He could make a living off this and I believe he can do very well at this.”

“What he did in Las Vegas is really remarkable. He was out there with amateur teams. To do what he did on the low budget that we have, obviously means something,” Brian said.

Nick’s biggest fans are, no doubt, the “little kids, because the little kids look up to him. He always has time for little kids,” Brian said.

Like all sports there is a very thin line that is crossed when an athlete becomes too competitive. Nick touches on the importance of having fun.

“People start getting too competitive and they forget that it’s fun. It’s good to be competitive because it keeps you working hard,” Nick said, but he always remembers that the initial reason as to why he began racing was because he loved it.

When asked if he was competitive, Nick replied, “Yeah, I really am. When I do well, I really have fun, and when I don’t do well, that just makes be want to work harder. It all pays off in the end.”

Nick would recommend this sport to anyone who is looking for a hobby. “It really depends on what kind of person you are, but try to keep it fun,” he said.

All in all, Brian feels extremely “proud of him. There are not many kids that can say they’ve done what he’s done,” Brian said of his son.

Nick believes “anything could happen” and as a team, Brian and Nick plan to give it everything they’ve got.

Nick has an undying passion for racing and he will not stop trying until his dreams come true.

Look to see him take speed to a whole different level in February at the Target Center where he will compete.

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