Diesel Thomas racked up some serious speed and confidence throughout the 2019 season with multiple overall podiums over the course of the year, accentuated by a title in the 85cc (9-11) Limited class at the Baja Brawl. The Nebraska native finished the year off with another strong result at The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City and continued to make improvements over the course of the offseason. Thomas has been putting in some hard hours on the various tracks in his backyard and it was obvious that he was prepared for the 2020 season when he showed up and won a heat race at Daytona. He’s doing most of his training on the supermini and is looking forward to potentially making the move up a class at the end of the season or even sooner, but Thomas is remaining focused on the 85 for Loretta’s. We caught up with Diesel while he was on the road from Nebraska down to Oklahoma Motorsports Park for a night race to see what he’s been up to since racing went on hiatus and what he’s got going on for the rest of the season.
What have you been up to during the quarantine recently?
Well, I've just been kind of ridin' as much as I can on the tracks at my house and having fun riding pit bikes, goin' fishin' -- trying to find a few hobbies that don't involve motocross.
You have a pretty big property where you're able to do all of that stuff at your house now, right?
Yeah, so I have a big outdoor track in the back that leads to the woods, I have an arenacross track, and then a sand track that has an arenacross layout.
What have you been riding mostly?
Mostly the outdoor track.
What else have you been doing in your downtime?
I've been fishin' a lot, doing a lot of fishing and I've been hunting with my dad and my buddy Gavin for turkeys and bullfrogs.
As far as your training and riding goes, have you backed it down at all or kept up your normal program?
I've just been riding as much as I can at the house. Actually, right now I'm on my way to a night race down at Oklahoma Motorsports Park. Practice is tonight at like 6 pm and then racing is tomorrow night.
Last year at the Baja Brawl you got a title in the 85cc (9-11) Limited class, but you ended up injuring your hand before the race. Talk about pushing through that injury to win the championship.
I collided with a kid on the sight lap and I thought I broke my hand, but I just kinda toughed it out. I knew I had a 1-1 in the first two motos and then the third moto all I had to do was get like a 3rd. Luke Fauser got the holeshot and I knew he had a bad first moto, so I knew I still had the overall and I just kinda rode it out to the finish.
Very rarely does something like that happen on the sight lap, so were you extra nervous on the line before the gate drop?
Nah, it kind of fired me up a little bit!
Your speed was good on the 85 this year at Daytona which you proved by winning a heat race. Have you made any changes to your program over the offseason or are you just getting more comfortable on the bike?
Yeah, so I mainly just ride my supermini for practice so when I get back on the 85 I ride it as hard as I can and I can handle it a lot better. The supermini is a lot faster and harder to hang onto, so I mostly ride the supermini. Every once in a while I'll ride the 85 just so I don't get uncomfortable switching back and forth.
Do you still fit the 85 well at this point or are you getting a little big on it?
Yeah, I'm getting pretty big on the 85 but I feel really good on the supermini right now and I feel like I'm in my primetime.
Are you having more fun riding your supermini when you train than your 85 at this point?
Yeah, I love my supermini. It's so fast, everything is bigger so I have more room and it's a lot faster, too.
How'd things go for you at the Daytona RCSX from your perspective?
Daytona is my favorite race and I think I ended up with a 2nd and 3rd overall. I knew I could've won because I won that heat race by a pretty good amount, so I was kind of a little bit bummed that I finished where I did but it was pretty good I think.
How did the weekend go at Spring A Ding Ding and what did you think of the race this year?
My results were not what I wanted and I knew I could've won some of those classes, too. The track was great; Zak Mashburn, Kyle Regal and all those guys did a really great job preppin' the track, it got super deep and really rough like it always does.
Do you like the big booters out there, too?
Yeah, that quad step-up is pretty big!
MX Sports just announced that they're planning on going with the Super Regional schedule as of now, what do you think about that?
I like the Super Regional because everybody gets a chance. A lot of the kids who don't make it through Areas have a better chance of making it and there will be a lot more different kids that don't get to go to Loretta's every year, so I think it's pretty cool.
Do you know what your plans are for what classes you'll be running this year at Loretta's and into next season?
This year I might try both the 85cc (10-12) classes or I might do 85cc (10-12) mod and Supermini 1. I think after this year I'm just going to go straight to superminis, because I think I'm going to be too big for the 85. The Supermini class is a lot faster than the 85 classes, so it'll be a pretty big adjustment.