Out of the Blue | Brenna Nakazawa | Schrader’s
By Jeff McConkey
Name: Brenna Nakazawa
Date of Birth: October 31, 1991
Hometown: Salmon Arm, BC
School and Grade or Occupation: Parts manager/Mechanic and Pastry Chef
Bike: KTM 150 XC-W
Race Club: GKMA
Class: Women’s Amateur
Who got you get started in racing?
As a little girl, were you a ‘girly girl’ or a ‘tomboy?’
I was a little bit of both. I played a lot of sports, liked being outside, riding my quad and helping my dad out in his shop. I also enjoyed playing in my mom’s hairdressing shop and getting dressed up everyone in a while.
Is there one female out there that you think has paved the way for other girls to be successful in moto?
I think Chantell Bykerk has paved a nice path for a lot of women. She came from a small town, practiced on her own home made an Endurocross course and just put in the time to ride. I think a lot of girls and women look up to her. She is a great person to learn from, chat with before or after races, and is always cheering you on even if she blows by you on the trail.
As a racer, are there any obstacles that you feel a female racer has to deal with that maybe a male racer doesn’t?
I think for me as a female racer the bike is one obstacle I struggle with more so than men. Finding the right bike for a short female is a feat in itself. I started out on a XR100 which I grew out of very quickly as I rode street bikes previously. I then rode a CRF 150RB for three years. This bike was great except my last year in the fast sections I was looking for more speed. As well, I wanted to do larger obstacles in the bush and found my small wheels held me back.
I have now switched to a KTM 150XC-W which I have rode a few time before breaking my hand. This bike is nimble and seems to be a good stepping stone for someone my size with not a ton of riding experience yet. I had Geoff at GP Moto lower it for me and it has helped tremendously. I can’t wait to get some more hours on my new bike and see what I can accomplish on it.
Who do you like racing against better, the girls or boys?
Being an off-road racer and a new racer, I have never raced against the men. I prefer racing the women but the men are always on the course with us. The men we race with are great and always offer a helping hand if you are stuck or struggling.
Who is your favourite female rider and why?
This is a tough question for me as I have a few favourite female riders I have met. I came into the riding scene about 4 years ago, and I was welcomed by so many great lady riders. All the ladies in the off-road seen were so happy to take me out, teach me and help me even if I struggled on every hill. These women are Kate Klassen, Brandy Reimer, Laura Katchen, Chantell Bykerk, Katrina Mckinley and Babe Hackett! These women are amazing and I am so happy to ride beside them.
Is there a racer you look up to and why?
I would have to say the racer I look up to would be my boyfriend, Jesse Niefer. He has got me into riding and helped me when I couldn’t even turn my bike around on a hill. I’m pretty sure my first year riding he hiked behind me more then he got to ride -Thanks, babe- . Jesse has struggled with a torn ACL and an injured back the last two years but he still continued to come to every race with me, cheer me on and watch me leave the house on weekends to go ride. He did this all even though riding is his passion and I know it must have been so hard. I am so grateful for his help and am so excited to see him out riding and racing his year and I know everyone else is as he is one of the funnest racers out on the trails.
Do you have a “can’t miss” race or event that you try to attend every season?
My “can’t miss” races are The Big Kahuna in Kamloops and Rev Limiter at Silverstar Mountain. These are off-road races with an Endurocross track. Enduro courses are some of my favourite courses. They are grueling and challenge ever part of your skills.
Who is your hero?
My heroes would be my parents. They both worked full-time jobs and ran their own businesses. Regardless how busy they were, they always made it out to our sports, school events and anything else we were up to. They never hesitate to help me and my sisters out when we need it. They are the reason I am who I am today and I wouldn’t be as successful in life without them. My parents have always pushed us and guided us in the right direction, whether we took their advise or not. They [never] cease to amaze me with how much they do.
What are your plans and goals for the 2018 season?
My plans for the 2018 season are to heal up quickly from a broken hand and get back on my bike. My main goal is going to be to race the PNWMA off-road series and beat my times from last season in the races I attended.
What are your biggest accomplishments to date?
My biggest accomplishment to date would be getting on a snowbike this winter for the first time and winning the Ladies Snowbike National Championship.
What is the biggest lesson that racing motocross has taught you so far?
The biggest lesson I have learned so far is to keep riding and pushing yourself. You may not feel like you are making progress but slow progress is still good.
Most female racers leave the sport much earlier then male racers. Why do you think that is?
I think female racers may leave the sport earlier because our lives/bodies take a bit of a different journey than men. When starting a family, our bodies take on more stress and are tougher to bounce back into your old routine.
Do you think it is possible for us to ever see a female Supercross champion?
I think it is definitely a possibility. There are so many great women out there pushing themselves to their limits and it is just a matter of time a woman trains harder and more than the men and takes a championship like that home.
If you ever have children, will they be motocross racers ?
If I have children I will definitely steer them towards trying dirt biking, whether it be Motocross, Off-Road or Endurocross. I am just hoping they enjoy riding, competitively or not.
Who do you want to thank?
I would like to thank Jesse Niefer, as he got me into riding, and was so patient teaching me how to ride, loading my bike and always keeping a smile on his face while doing it. I would also like to thank Geoff Klassen at GP Moto. He apprenticed me as a mechanic in 2009 and has been an amazing mentor ever since. He has taught me so much from mechanics, parts, service, riding and life in general. You are a great person to have in my corner and I appreciate everything you have done and continue to do. I also want to give a shoutout to all the amazing sponsors who help the sports and support me: Ryan Lockart with Matrix and Atlas, Zoe Verbauwhede with Motovan, Bernie Denis with Importations Thibault, Steve Vanderhelm with Emperor Racing, Greg Kozoris with Acceleration Fitness, Kevin Kinrade with Mongoose Machine and Rekluse.