Gennusa began racing on the pro circuit less than three weeks ago in Daytona (Photo by Lou Russo Photography).
Regardless of the arena, making a smooth transition onto the professional landscape is always a difficult task to accomplish. However, someone forgot to relay that message to soul7nine athlete Nick Gennusa, who incredibly raced to a 5th place finish in his first run on the Pro ATV Motocross Circuit less than three weeks ago in Daytona.
“5th in your first pro race is unheard of,” Gennusa said of his professional debut. “I got a lot of positive feedback from the race. Almost no one has ever done that before, maybe one or two other people in history.”
This past weekend, Gennusa traveled to Georgia for his second professional race, backing up his success in Daytona with a 5th, 8th and 7th overall placement in the pro circuit to go along with three 3rd place finishes in Pro Am races.
"Being it was my second weekend racing Pro Class, I was very happy with my results again,” Gennusa remarked. “During our second moto, the track was so rough, and it was hot out. Every one more lap we did was brutal, but it sure paid off with a 7th overall. I will continue my efforts and determination for our next race in Texas!"
While his early success as a professional has shocked some, it becomes a little bit easier to understand how he has gotten to this place after one hears his story. Gennusa, 19, has been riding for the majority of his life, so long in fact that he does not recall all of the details of an initial conversation that he had with his parents at eight-years-old.
“I don’t remember clearly what I said to my parents when I went to them, but they looked it up and found out that there were divisions where an eight-year-old can race,” the Wall native recalled. “In 2004, I raced for the first time in Englishtown, New Jersey, when I was eight-years-old. I think I did two races that year, and I did not win a race. You go in thinking you’re going to win until you get to the track and see that all of these people have been doing this for a while.”
After getting his feet wet in 2004, a young Gennusa quickly realized that his future was in racing. He and his father continued to focus on the sport, and the results started to come shortly thereafter.
“All throughout 2005, my father took me to a lot of local tracks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We did a small series,” he reflected. “I did not win one race that year. I got beaten every weekend by the same kid. In 2006, I had a great year, and we got into the racing a little bit more. I won two local championships, and then I won two championships in my first run at the national level in 2007 when I was just 12-years-old. I’ve been hooked ever since. I’m 19 now, and it’s been 11 years of racing, about to be 12 when I turn 20 in two months.”
Equally as impressive as his ability on the track is Gennusa’s unquestionable business savvy when he is not on his quad. Despite being just 19-years-old, the New Jersey resident also shows remarkable branding and marketing proficiency, coupled with a great understanding of his industry and its history.
“When I won those two national championships about six years ago, the series we were racing was hot,” Gennusa stated. “Races were on ESPN, and we had huge corporate sponsors. The industry was booming, and there were thousands of spectators at our events. They’re still big now, but the sponsor landscape has definitely changed. All of those changes that have happened to the industry are what has made me the businessman I am today at 19-years-old. Without the huge sponsor backing of the sport, we’ve had to put everything together on our own. It has been a struggle, but it has also made me into the young businessman who I am today. If everything was still the way it was five or six years ago, everything would be done for me. I wouldn’t even be talking to the sponsors. Since that part is gone, I’ve had to figure out a lot of things for myself, and all of that has made me a smarter businessman. There is a lot that goes into this that people would never really be able to understand unless they were in the industry.”
While the changing landscape has made it difficult for Gennusa at times, it has unquestionably turned him into an extremely rounded athlete and businessman. And while he is thankful to have an increased sense of business savvy, there is no denying the fact that Gennusa is in the sport of racing for the competition.
“First things first, the air is awesome,” he said with an energetic tone. “Only a handful of people are really able to jump the way that we pros do. The jumps and the speed are definitely a huge adrenalin rush. Another source of adrenalin is the fans. I’ve always felt that the more fans there are, the better I’ll do. You get pumped up from all of the people watching. You don’t want to mess up, and your mind and focus really come into play. What’s great about racing the pro class at the nationals is that everybody watches. We get a lot of attention, so it’s really easy to get fully adrenalized on race day. You get butterflies, and you get confused. Are you nervous, or are you excited? I have to say that it is a little bit of both. In my case, I live for those emotions, so it’s very easy for me to get pumped up for a race.”
To keep up with all of the latest race results and information about Nick Gennusa, check out his official website. Also make sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.