(usa) 1.88m / 103kg


Riding, travel


High Desert Adventures, DUUST CO, Bullet Proof Diesel, Freedom Rally Racing, Baja Bound Insurance, KLIM, Seat Concepts, Rekluse, O'Neal RDX Boots, ICO Racing, Taco Moto, Pacific Stair Co, Goldentyre West, SRS Creative, EVS Sports, FMF, Gray Area KTM, NORA, Moto Minded, Damerow Ford, MOSKO MOTO

First participation

2022: Baja Rally (finisher), Sonora Rally (7th, Pro Moto class)
2021: Sonora Rally (2nd, Rally 2)
2019: Sonora Rally (6th, Rally 2)
2018: 24 hour of Goldendale (1st, 40+ Expert class, 2nd overall team)
2008-2011: Baja 1000 finisher


“I've been a fan forever”

Ace Nilson has spent the last four years gearing up for his Dakar debut, but it was more like 40 years ago that he was first mesmerised by the world’s hardest rally, watching on television with his father Joseph. Growing up in Lancaster, California, Ace got his first bike from older brother Mike when he was 12 years old: a 1978 Suzuki RM80. He spent his teenage years tearing around the Mojave Desert, little suspecting that it would end up being ideal preparation for the sands of Saudi Arabia. After moving to Oregon in 1999, he began competing in offroad events and ended up finishing four consecutive editions of the iconic Baja 1000. In 2014 he also became a co-owner and guide of High Desert Adventures, which runs motorcycle tours in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho and Baja. After helping to put on a rally-raid navigation class a few years back, he found himself drawn to the discipline, so he did a training school with former Dakar finisher Scott Bright and entered the Sonora Rally in 2019. His momentum was slowed by the pandemic, but he is now ready for a first tilt at the Dakar with the highly experienced Duust Rally team. Given that no fewer than 11 Americans are entering the bikes this year, the 51-year-old will be surrounded by familiar faces -including Duust teammate Jacob Argubright, who is targeting the top 15 overall. Ace has more modest ambitions. He is simply determined to get through to the finish line and complete the rally in memory of his father, who had a miraculous cancer recovery in the early 1980s and finally passed away in 2012.

“I think it was in 2017 that I really got bit by the Dakar bug. I’ve been a fan forever. I remember watching with my dad at 10 or 11 years old, I was just in awe of what they were doing and where they were going. At that point, I really didn’t comprehend what it was all about. But about four years ago, I started thinking: I can really do this. I did Sonora in 2019, then the pandemic hit, and I raced Sonora again and the Baja Rally this year. I really didn’t expect to qualify for Dakar. I was pretty shocked when I got the news that I was in. It was actually my girlfriend Molly who saw my phone go off. She came over and swatted me and said, ‘You got in!’ ‘Into what?’ ‘Into Dakar!’ ‘Oh shut up, don't mess with me!’ Jacob Argubright had recommended reaching out to Filip Dabrowski at Duust. The vibe was really good and really professional, but kind of chill. I think we talked for an hour and a half and I was like, this is who I want to ride with. I’m looking forward to it. I’m not much of a sprinter, more of an endurance type of athlete. I’ve done marathons, triathlons, 200-mile bicycle races. I enjoy the distance, and I always seem to do better when it’s longer. My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1981. I came home from school one day and he was delivering the news that they’d given him six months to live. But his sister called and said they were conducting a study at the University of Utah and trying out new treatments. Within a week he’d packed and flown out with mum, while we were dispersed to various family and friends. Long story short: the chemotherapy and radiotherapy they were trialling did work, and he was gifted with another 30 years of life. He eventually passed in 2012, after developing dementia and Alzheimer's. He was kind of a warrior, and always encouraged me to chase my dreams and follow my passions. Me going to Dakar is because of his relentless determination to fight and live, when the odds were stacked against him. I know it's going to be extremely difficult to finish, but I'm hoping to draw on some of his words of encouragement to make it happen.”




  • KTM
  • Duust Rally Team
  • Duust Rally Team
  • Rally 2

Ranking 2023

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