While on the PulpMX show earlier this week, we had a caller present quite a thought provoking question. This isn’t verbatim, but it was something like, “Which amateur star had a lot of hype and wasn’t able to make it in the pro ranks?” While a handful of names immediately came to mind, I knew there was another long list that would continue to brew as I let the proposition marinate. I do believe I’ll save that list for another day, but it was cool to see the likes of Twitter throwing out some racers of decade’s past and see some conversations go back and forth.
One rider, in particular Nico Leocata, was mentioned on Twitter and further fueled the flames of my internal debate. The caller’s question was broad, and to this moment I’m not sure where the boundaries lie… but that’s a good thing, because debating, even to yourself, is fun (in my opinion anyways).
On the show, I think my initial response was Nico Izzi. I personally ascended through the ranks alongside Nico, and watched his stardom increase exponentially from the young 80cc years and well through his entire amateur career. Outside looking in, he was the next big thing, especially thinking back to the 2003-2006 years. He tore his ACL in ’06, and made his amateur pro debut in 2007 a little behind the curve of Austin Stroupe and Trey Canard, but as Suzuki’s then Golden Child he was still set for fulfilling his childhood expectations. Yet another story for another day, but after a devastating crash in 2009 left Izzi on the sidelines and we never saw him rebound and become the superstar everyone thought he was going to be in 2005.
I went off on a tangent there, so back to the other Nico. Nico Leocata. He surprised the amateur ranks in 2010 and 2011—if I remember correctly— and by Mini O’s 2011 was dominating the B class with flair and style. The kid was going places. Our longtime friend Ryan Walters even flew to Argentina over New Years that winter to film a Vurb Platinum. But that’s where this story takes a sharp left hand U-turn that throws you against the window a little too hard.
I don’t remember ever hearing or seeing anything from or about Nico Leocata after we released that video. The rumor mill was full force back then, and it’s not like I had any way to verify anything that was being said. To this day, it’s still a mystery. Hell maybe this article will help us find the answer to where the hell he went.
To round this up, did Nico Leocata belong on the list asked by the caller? As I said on Twitter, personally, I don’t think so. Yes he was fast as can be. Yes he came out and crushed B class for a year. But even with that, we never saw him move to amateur A class (from what I remember) and it’s not like he was dominate in any class long enough be touted as a huge rising amateur star that would go straight to a Makita Factory Suzuki team and win his first race. Nico Izzi, and quite a few others like him, HAVE been that person.
Let me know if you agree or disagree below.
Regardless of my opinion, the Spy Vurb Platinum by Ryan Walters is one hell of a trip down memory lane. Multiple tracks, helicopters, beach houses… I need to go back in time and kick myself in the ass for not going on that shoot as well.