Shaun Russell, Grand National Dirt Track #28posted Jul 31, 2007
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The man himself speaks….
I got my first motorcycle, a Yamaha PW 50, as a Christmas gift from my parents when I was six years old. My dad had motorcycles that he would go trail riding on with his buddies, and he thought it would be a good idea to take me. He might have had a different opinion on the matter if he knew then how much time and money it would end up costing him over the next several years. I started riding in my front yard, which was a small area, and through the streets of my neighborhood. After I learned the controls, balance, and all the basics, I would go ride in the fields and hills around my house.
Racing wasn’t the plan that was in mind when my parents got me my first motorcycle. I don’t think the thought ever crossed their minds. One of my mom’s customers had a son who raced motocross and was just getting into some flat track racing. They knew that my parents had bought me a bike and suggested that they bring me out there and give it a go. I was seven years old, and it was at the Monterey State Fairgrounds that I raced my first race. I really don’t even remember how I did in that race, but I know I didn’t win. I had a stock bike, and besides the important protective gear, like a helmet, gloves, and goggles, I just wore some jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt, and some work boots. At that stage of the game results didn’t really matter, it was something to have fun with, and I was having fun. We would make the race weekends a family thing, and my parents enjoyed going just as much as I did. That’s what it’s all about. As I got older and gained experience, we traveled to different tracks, moved up the ranks, and got on bigger bikes.
When I was sixteen, I had the opportunity to test a bike for Bartels’ Harley. They were looking for some new riders, and I guess I was in the right place at the right time. After the test, they called and offered me a job riding all of the Sporster Performance Nationals. That first year was quite an experience for me. It was the first year without my parents at the races every week, and I was living away from their house. Eric Bostrom, Johnny Murphree, Billy Martin, and I spent the summer in St Louis, MO, at a house that RK Stratman owned. It was actually an old grocery store that he used for storage for his business, and the upstairs was converted into an apartment. Talk about a learning experience!
It seems that no matter what I am doing, everything revolves around motorcycles. I enjoy riding them today just as much, if not more, than I did when I first started. The only difference is that today there is a lot more work involved. There is nothing like going somewhere with a group of buddies and riding motorcycles. For me, being on a bike, whether it’s at the racetrack or on the trail somewhere, is the most relaxing thing. It just lets me be in my own world. Especially these days, the work off the track is harder than it is on the track.
Aside from racing, and motorcycles, I enjoy doing lots of other things. Since the racing season is in the summer months, most of my free time is in the winter. During this time I enjoy snowboarding, and hanging out with friends and family that I don’t get to see that much during the season. Since I have a bit more time to train, I also get to eat more ice cream than I get to during the season. I kind of like that.
I also get to spend time as a guest instructor at American Supercamp. This is a school based on teaching the technique of flat track, and riding a motorcycle in general. I recommend it to anyone who rides, or is thinking about riding. If for nothing else, the fun you will have is well worth the price of admission. Now that I spend quite a bit of time in the Mid West, there is also riding on the ice, when the lakes freeze over.
It takes a lot of people and sponsors to be successful in motor sports. Motion Pro is a big part of my success and they have been with me for a long time now. Bartels’ Harley Davidson, TNT Action Sports, Gutterridge Harley Davidson, Walter Brothers Harley Davidson, American Supercamp.com, Teknic, Arai, Supertrapp, Red Line Oil, K&N Filters, Cytosport, A&A, Pro Plates, Jim Gutterridge, Flattrakfotos.com, Greg Crow Racing, and Rod Lake are also a big part in making what I do possible.
The most important thing that has come from racing motorcycles is the people that I meet. Whether it’s other racers, fans, sponsors, or people I have met through the industry, I have gained a lot of good friends, and some awesome people to associate with. Equally important is that I have fun doing what I do and I get to call it a JOB.
Update on Shaun for the 2007 Season:
Shaun made a new start this year by switching to Suzuki RMZ450 singles for the season opener at Daytona. Having only had his new bikes for a couple of weeks, Shaun easily made the main in one of the toughest races to qualify for in a long season, and finished 14th. In a season that is as competitive as it has ever been, Shaun has had 5 top 10 finishes, with a season best of 5th at Volunteer Speedway in Bull’s Gap, Tennessee. He is currently 6th overall in the Twins series points. Go Shaun!