GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Zac Nash

Tuesday Toolbox: Zac Nash

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | 3:20 PM
Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | 3:20 PM

Twenty-eight year old Zac Nash just wrapped up his first GNCC championship (25+ A) after a long history of racing GNCCs. Before stepping back from racing to become a mechanical engineer, he was one of the fastest amateur riders in the series, competing against the likes of Grant Baylor and Aaron Plessinger. Now fully settled into his engineering career, Nash has returned to GNCC racing. Welcome back! Hey Zach, what have you been up to this afternoon?

Zach Nash: I’m on my way back from buying a van! I wanted a little more space for dad and me when we travel. We do a lot of camping at the races, and we decided we need a little more room. I’m probably going to start the design next week, while I’m down in Florida for work, then as soon as I get back home, I’ll start building it. Since I wrapped up the A 25+ GNCC championship last round and don’t need to go to any more races, I’ll have plenty of time to get it done.

Congrats on wrapping up that title, by the way. Were you chasing any other series besides GNCC?

Well, I did the Full Gas Sprint Enduros this year too. I have one more round left to do, but it’s just over in South Carolina, so that won’t be too bad. I’m leading the Pro-Am points there, so I’m really hoping that I manage to get two national championships this year, that would be really cool!

It looks like it’s been a pretty good season – can you take us through it?

I started off the year with the intentions of just running the Sprint Enduros. I really only got back into racing last year, and the Sprint Enduros were what I was doing. Over the winter I got really into training and then when the GNCCs came around in the spring, we decided to do Big Buck and I won it. I had a lot of fun and my fitness was where it needed to be. I skipped Florida because of a work commitment, then went to Georgia and won that one as well. Right after that COVID happened, so there was no racing going on, but fortunately I was still able to do quite a bit of riding during that time period. Once we got back to racing, I won the next two rounds. We’d really just planned on doing the closer rounds, but then it occurred to me that I already had four wins, and they were only counting eight rounds this year. I was especially excited because even though I’ve done a lot of GNCC racing, winning a class championship has always eluded me. So, we went for it, and I finally wrapped things up at Burr Oak.

Of all the rounds so far this year, which one has been your favorite?

Probably round one at Big Buck. I had a fantastic ride there and a really great time. I felt good on the bike and even though it was a technical race, there were plenty of passing lines so I didn’t have much trouble with traffic.

Back in the day you were a solid up-and-coming GNCC A rider, racing against quite a few familiar names. Then you decided to step back from racing and go to college?

I competed in 250 A before hanging it up and going to college. This was right around the time period that Grant Baylor, Layne Michael and Aaron Plessinger were all racing that class. I took second one year and fourth the other – not bad considering the competition! I went to school for mechanical engineering, and during that time the racing had to take a bit of a backseat. The first two years I still raced, but I felt like I wasn’t able to give either thing my full attention, or I want to be the best at whatever it is I’m doing. At that point I had to make a choice – like I’m either going to race motorcycles for a living or I’m going to go to school. And going to school was the better financial decision for me. It would have been a lot fun to race dirt bikes for a living, but I have a pretty cool job as it is, so I think things worked out for the better. Sometimes I feel like kids get pushed too hard towards pro racing, and I just want to emphasize that education does pay off in the end. If you take your time and go get a degree, it will pay off for you in the end.

Yeah, your job is pretty sweet! Tell us more about it.

I’m a test engineer for Yamaha, and I get to work on and ride wave runners almost every day! A friend of a friend that I met through racing, he worked at Yamaha, originally in the ATV department, then transferred into the legal department. Anyway, he was a GNCC racer himself, and gave me a really good reference. The GNCC family is quite wide, and it seems like we all try to look out for each other when we can. I got a job in their wave runner department, so moved from Indiana down to Georgia to start working there.

Do you see yourself spending the rest of your career working with the wave runners, or do you hope to do some different things later on?

I really enjoy the wave runner industry, but my heart has always been in dirt bikes. That’s the whole reason I became an engineer, it was always my goal to be involved in dirt bike development someday. Even back in engineering school, every math problem and equation we had I’d try to find some way to relate it back to dirt bikes to keep me motivated (laughs) So someday I would love to transition into dirt bike development, or parts development or R&D – something like that. That’s where I want to go with my career, and I’ve been trying to do some professional development in that area. I’ve been teaching myself how to valve and tune my own suspension, just to try and educate myself a little more in case an opportunity ever does present itself.

You mentioned earlier in the interview that it was just last year that you really started to get back into racing. What drew you back in?

I started riding after I moved to Georgia, because at the time almost everybody I was working with had bikes and rode. So, I started riding with the guys from work. Made some friends, was just having fun with it, maybe doing a few locals here and there but never really focusing on trying to be fast again. Last year my dad asked me if he wanted to do the Sprint Enduros with him. I hadn’t been racing because I didn’t want to put all the time into training, I’d need to in order to be in shape for hare scrambles. But my dad found a loophole in my argument (laughs) - - you don’t really have to be in fantastic shape for Sprint Enduros, you just have to be able to go fast. We did all of those together and had a blast! So, my dad gave me a little nudge there. But being a GNCC guy originally, I decided to hit up the new Mountaineer GNCC, up at the Boy Scout facility. Given how much property they have and where it was, I figured it would be a really cool, old-school kind of race. It didn’t disappoint. I had a good time, and then over the winter I got really into training, and that just rolled into doing the GNCCs this year.

What does an average week of work and training look like for you? I imagine it’s hard to fit everything in…

Yeah, it’s very tight. During the off-season I get quite a bit of training in, but once the season starts, between work, bike maintenance, cleaning up from the last race, and getting prepared for the next race, I have a really hard time fitting the training in. During the off-season, I was able to do five days on, two days off schedule. I would work from seven to four, then after work I would come home and three days a week, I’d ride my trainer in the basement, and the other two I’d lift weights. I’d ride as much as I could on my days off. Once the season hit, I couldn’t really keep a consistent schedule like that – I just try to fit in road bike riding whenever I can. Of course, when we go to Florida to test the wave runners, that traveling throws a bit of a monkey wrench into the plans as well.

Can testing and riding the wave runners technically be considered a workout?

Yeah, it can! One day for fun I wore my Garmin watch and heart rate strap while we were out doing our durability testing. It was a decent workout. When we were riding, my average heart rate would be 160. It was a decent interval workout, because for that type of testing, we ride for a bit, then stop, then ride again, it just isn’t quite as intense as I would prefer for intervals. Still enough to consider it a workout though!

Do you have any other hobbies or interests outside of work and racing?

I like to build things. I love doing fabrication and designing stuff. Now, that is a little like work since I’m an engineer, but it’s much more fun when it’s my own projects I’m working on. I’ve done some custom van work for myself and a couple friends, and I’m actually in the process of designing some dirt bike related accessories and products for my own little company I’m going to start, Nash Racing Components. I have a couple ideas and should have some designs out in the next couple weeks, it’s just my publicity opportunity here came a couple weeks before I got my products fully developed (laughs). And then like almost every single other dirt bike racer I know; I also enjoy mountain biking.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, it was great talking with you! Who would you like to thank?

I have to say thanks to my parents. They are still a big part of my program. My dad goes to the races with me every weekend and is a huge supporter. I picked up a great shop to ride out of this year in Wooly’s Cycles of Atlanta. Most of my sponsors have been with me for a long time and I greatly appreciate their support. Fly Racing, Forma Boots, MOTOREX, IMS, Asterisk, Dunlop, XC Gear, Scott Goggles, Sunstar, Braking, and Acerbis.