Interview: Nasty Nick
by Dean Adams
Copyright 1998 Nick Ienatsch & Dean Adams
Little has been heard from motojournalist Nick Ienatschsince his departure from Sport Rider magazinetwo years ago. A Peterson Publishing employee for more than a decade, Ienatschingrained himself to readers around the world with his exploits. A greatstreet rider, as a racer Nick went from fast club guy to national number-wearing250 rider in about four years. As a 250 rider, he won a 250 Grand Prixrace (Willow 1990) and finished second in the series in his last year ofreal competition, 1996.
Born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin but raised in Utah by apilot father whose idea of a good time was to take Nick and his brotherto a parking lot on Saturday afternoon to watch him do wheelies on an oldKawasaki H2, Ienatsch is a true enthusiast of motorcycles. He owns morecool bikes and cult machines than any one else I know.
I spoke with him at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway duringthe AMA national there in October.
Q. What’s up with Nick since yourdeparture from Sport Rider?
A. Well, I’m working on a freelance basis for Cycle WorldMagazine and also doing broadcast work for ESPN, including work here thisweekend. I’m also the head instructor at the Freddie Spencer Riding Schoolhere at the LVMS, and recently I started working as an instructor for theDerek Daly driving school here at the Speedway.
I’m having a lot of fun and I really like the life thatI have now. It affords me a lot of time to do things that I want to do.
Q. Any regrets on leaving the motorcyclepublishing industry on a full-time basis?
A. Regrets would be a strong word. I really don’t haveany real regrets, I accomplished a lot in my period at Motorcyclist andSport Rider.
I do miss being in the know on the new bikes and ridingthe new bikes and letting my readers know about them. I also miss the interactionI had with my readers. I enjoyed talking with them and hearing about theirriding experiences and things like that. I made a lot of friends in themotorcycle industry and I still have a lot of friends in the motorcycleindustry, I just don’t get to see them as often as I once did.
I am saddened that the industry hasn’t really continuedon the educational journey that we started at Sport Rider to increase theskills of the riders, the readers of the magazine. I think in the lasttwo years we were on staff there Lance (Holst) and I really tried to imploreto the readers that the best thing many of them can do is to take a ridingschool and to practice their riding skills.
It’s really amazing to me that the manufacturers justkeep making these wonderfully faster motorcycles every year but that thesame number of them end up being totaled by a insurance company. The hardwareis great, to use a computer metaphor, but the software still sucks. Theoperating system that operates the bike needs a lot of work in many cases.
Q. You were married last year andnow split your time between Vegas and California, right?
A. I married my long-time girlfriend Judy last year,yes. We’re very happy. I keep most of my bikes in my garage at my housein La Crecenta and we just bought a house here in Vegas. I’m spending somuch time here that it makes sense to live here (Deanwryly notes, and the lack of state income taxes in Vegas might appeal slightlyto Nick’s stockbroker wife). I’d taken the Derek Daly schoolat the LVMS for a story that was published in AutoWeek. Once I moved hereI called them and told them that I was available. They hired me, part-time.
Q. How is it dealing with Car Guys?
A. Eh …. I still like motorcycle people better. Ina lot of cases bike people are more serious about performance, and they’remore passionate about motorcycles than car people are about cars.
A lot of car guys are just idiots, they don’t want tolearn how to drive better. Bike people crash a bike and they get up andsay, ‘Why’d that happen? What did I do wrong? How can I teach myself notto do that again?’; where car people just look for a convenient excuseand focus on that. It’s too bad really.
Q. You work for Freddie Spencerand are friends with Eddie Lawson. Those guys hated each other for morethan a decade, how do you swing being close to both of them?
A. (laughs) Very carefully! No, really I think thosedays are long gone for those two, and they have no reason now to be enemies.In fact, Eddie came out to the track (LVMS) not too long ago while we weredoing a school. In the middle of of the track session I looked down thepitlane and Eddie and Freddie were standing there talking and smiling andlaughing, all by themselves. They talked for about fifteen minutes andI don’t think either one of them stopped smiling the whole time. They weresharing old times and catching up on new things too, I think.
You know Dean, there’s a lot of bullshit that we haveto put up with in being journalists, but we do get to see some specialmoments. That for me was a really special moment, those two former worldchampions standing there all alone laughing and talking. It was neat.
Q. You have quite a collection ofcool bikes. Have you bought or sold anything lately?
A. No, not really, I had some daily rider streetbikesthat I sold because they weren’t being used, but other than that, no.
I bought the bikes that when I was broke and in collegethat I couldn’t afford. I always wanted a Bimota so I have a couple ofthem, I yearned for a Suzuki XN85 Turbo and a GS1000S, now I have those.I always wanted an RC30, so I bought one of those, and I added a TZ750streetbike to the list and some other things.
They’re all the bikes that I craved and that I heardother people say, ‘Damn, I wish I’d never sold that bike’ when they talkabout it. I hope that I never have to sell them.
Q. Do you still have the same passionto ride that you once did?
A. Oh, absolutely. Probably in many ways now more thanever. I still love motorcycles.
Q. How are things going at the school?
A. Great, things are going well there. We’re adding moredates too. The thing that some people have a hard time getting past isthat the school is more expensive than others. But you’re not getting instructionsfrom a three-time world champion there are you? Or a former AMA 250 GP# 2 rider, at those other schools.
I’ve always had a lot of respect for Freddie Spencerwhen he was a rider. I have even more respect for him now. He has a uniqueway of explaining this to people in the class that I think is unheralded.He’s an amazing man.
Q. Do you still have the burn torace?
A. Sure, but I just don’t know if I have the time todevote to it that it requires. People see you on the track and think it’sonly a couple of day investment in time. But in reality, it’s a 24 houra day deal where you’re basing your whole life around one activity. I’mnot sure I can do that any more.
We all have a very short period of time to do the thingsthat we love and you have to find some balance. I remember being with MalcomForbes in Japan in the late eighties and while we were there, the mayorof Tokyo was coming to see him. And we also learned that there was a Bimotadealership down the block–one that was closing in an hour. We were lateto meet the mayor. You gotta do what you want to do.
–Dean Adams AllRights Reserved