Words: Redferrin / Photos: Biro
Shane McElrath's path to becoming motocross elite has certainly been an interesting one. Entering as a relatively unknown amateur in 2012, McElrath put in the long hours and reaped the benefits at the big dance. Earning a win in the B class on a national level is a task on any day, much less against the likes of Cooper Webb and company in Hurricane Mills. In one of the fastest classes in quite some time, Shane claimed his steak in the division leaving Loretta Lynn's with a newfound confidence, a moto win, as well as a life changing offer of support direct from the Troy Lee Designs offices. Over the next seasons, the positive results continued to pour in as the sweat poured out. Fast forward to February 2015: Supercross has left the west coast after several weeks of top notch racing have just came to a close and Shane is fresh off of his best Supercross finish yet, second overall in San Diego. Fifth place in the points standings, Shane hits the break more determined than ever. With his eyes focused crisply on putting himself into the top three, Shane's got more motivation flowing in his veins than ever before.
Shane McElrath: It was definitely a huge relief, especially coming into the break because it would have been a much longer and less enjoyable break had I not left everything on the track. I am really happy with a second because it is a good starting place but I feel like I should have won that. I kind of got too excited once I got into second and made a few mistakes and decided to just settle in to finish out the night on the box.
MP: Troy Lee and the entire crew has believed in you since long before your debut as a professional. You came out and made a statement and in return picked up a slew of support. How did your deal with TLD and the whole race team first come about back as an amateur?
Shane McElrath: My team manager, Tyler Keefe, has really put a lot of time and effort in me and believed in me since day one and even when I wasn’t believing in myself. It was crazy how it worked out, I happened to be riding by on a golf cart and Beau Markolf called me over to introduce us and I had no clue who he was… After that we had a few discussions and he ended up flying me out to ride the TLD Honda and from then on I have been so happy with everyone there.
MP: Now that you've reached the break and kept yourself inside of the top five in points, what is the game plan from here? What will you do during these next weeks to inch yourself closer to the top spot?
Shane McElrath: I think I am more excited about being fifth in points than I am about getting my first podium. It really amps me up because I know I’m in striking distance for at least a top three in points and I am going to push until the very end. Over the break we will ride some outdoors a little bit and try and pick up some speed to carry that on over to the super cross track and come out swinging at Houston.
MP: The amateur classes behind you look a lot like the pro ranks you're facing now. There are ten guys at any given time who could snag a win. What are your thoughts on the current competitive status in motocross? It's got to be encouraging to see so many people going for it just like you, pros and amateurs alike.
Shane McElrath: Yeah it’s definitely good that the playing field is getting a little more evened out. Not because people are slowing down, but because people are getting more and more dedicated and are realizing what it really takes to win.
MP: As you work closer towards the goal of winning your first main event, what do you think it is going to take to edge out the rest of the pack and land the TLD Lucas Oil RedBull backed KTM in first place?
Shane McElrath: It’s going to have to start with a good heat race to get a good gate pick and carry that to the main and pull another good start. From then on I just need to put my head down and focus ahead for fifteen solid laps.
MP: For a period as an amateur, you trained and did your own thing and some of the time you spent out west with the team. Explain the major differences in working alone verses working with a whole team. Also, what differences did you notice from working with the team as an amateur to now as a full blown pro?
Shane McElrath: Well, for one, it’s really tough getting thrown out of your element and having to push and motivate yourself and still be expected (of yourself) to be the best. That’s where I have really struggled in my past because I would try too hard and make things weigh more on me than they actually do. It is very nice working with the team and having our own trainer and test track and for supercross. It’s just so convenient and I can have people like my mechanic and trainer and team manager to really help me focus on specific things.
MP: For those who don't know you off the bike, what makes up Shane McElrath? What hobbies get your attention in regular life and what makes you tick? Obviously at this level absolute dedication is required but what do you wind down with once the riding and training is over.
Shane McElrath: Outside of riding and training I don’t have too much free time. I do enjoy being by myself a lot of the time and just being creative. I’ve got a big imagination and love designing things and/or building things. I love working with wood and being constructive…and yes I enjoy cleaning the house too. I also like to go to the rc track every now and then and also playing some xbox with my bro, Dizzle!
MP: You've really racked up some amazing accomplishments already in your career. Who all would you like to thank for helping you get to this point and making your racing effort successful.
Shane McElrath: God has blessed me with more than I give Him credit for and He continues to do so in so many aspects every day. Also the whole TLD, Lucas Oil, RedBull, KTM team. My team manager TK, my mechanic, Andy, Ryan Cox, Luke Boyk, Mike Emerson, Brian Lopes, Brian Seigrest, Dave Cullinan, Mikey Ojeda, My family, Adidas, Oakley, Dunlop, Specialized, FMF, Alpinestars, Smoke Buddy, and everyone that supports me, Thanks!!