After success at the lower levels, Nichols is beginning to thrive in the local sprint car series
When asked how long he's been racing, Mark Nichols' response is simple: The first trophy he ever won was on a tricycle. While the number of wheels beneath him has changed over the years, the 47-year-old Nichols is still hoisting trophies everywhere he goes.
As Nichols grew up, he and his father were always around cars, giving him a passion for racing that has taken him all over.
Nichols' racing career began with monster trucks, but once he began to dominate that circuit, he moved on to racing carts. As with his experience with monster trucks, Nichols became so successful in the cart series that he began looking for a new challenge, so he began racing Pro 4 Modifieds until he found his current passion with sprint cars.
'We just went as high as we could,' he said. 'In cart racing I won grand nationals. In Pro 4, I won the series twice. And so sprint cars are a whole other ball game considering it's such a tough class to win.'
A sprint car typically weighs about 1,500 pounds and carries from 500-700 horsepower around a quarter- or half-mile track.
'We can get up to about 60 or 70 miles per hour on the bigger tracks, but most of our time is spent in a controlled slide,' he said.
While sprint-car racing is the highest level locally, Nichols is part of the Northwest Wingless Tour, which races everywhere from Skagit County in Washington to Medford.
As a member of the tour, Nichols is paid as a professional racer, which helps him maintain the car and take his crew with him to races that are farther away.
'We couldn't ever do this without the help of our sponsors at Weston Buick GMC Kia, Fischer Mill Supply, Creative Touch Embroidery, Mulligan's Speedshop, Herz Precision Parts and, of course, our awesome crew,' he said.
Nichols is sitting in sixth place out of 30 racers after 13 of 17 races. However, a couple of missed races have hurt him in the standings. Another reason he's not closer to the top is because his car's motor broke down and he's running with a backup motor.
The best season Nichols experienced on the tour ended with a second-place finish, but he also was named rookie of the year in his first year in a sprint car. He estimates he has won seven or eight races in the wingless tour in his career.
Nichols lives in Eagle Creek with his wife and two daughters.