By Kyle Cowling
When people hear the name, Shae Bentley, the first thing that probably comes to mind would be his crazy lever position. Shagnasty was very well known for is extremely high lever positioning, as well as cart-wheeling half way down Mt. St. Helens in 1998 at the Glen Helen National. Shae eventually signed on the dotted line for Mitch Payton in hopes of bringing home a championship for the very well established Kawasaki team. In 2000, Bentley, David Pingree, and Greg Schnell battled in what would be one of the most memorable 125cc West Coast Supercross Championships to date. Not only did these three riders take the championship battle all the way to the last round in Irving, Texas, but it took several minutes after the race was completed to figure out that Shae did, in fact, end up on top. He edged out David Pingree by two points for the title. Right after the friendly Georgian won his very first Supercross championship, he became extremely ill heading into the 2000 East/West Shootout in Las Vegas. Since then, the former Supercross champion has been unable to get back on track, as many injuries and illnesses have plagued his career. We recently heard that Shagnasty suffered a seizure at a local track in Georgia recently and things weren’t looking very well for him. We decided to track down the Georgia native to see exactly what’s been going on with him and where he has been for the last couple of years.
All right, Shae. You’ve been out of the racing world for several years now. What have you been up to during this time?
My last race was the Daytona Supercross in 2005. During my nighttime qualifier I pulled off the track with a broken ankle. When my wife came to me and I was crying. We got in the truck and as we were driving back home I didn’t say a single word. She asked me what was wrong and I told her I was through racing. I called my agent asking him to write a press release informing everybody of my retirement from the sport. I then became an agent for Mike Brown, Brett Metcalfe, and a few other riders. I did that for somewhere around a year when Tucker Rocky made me an offer so I moved down to Palm Bay, Florida. I did a great job for them; unfortunately they cut their territories and I was in one of the territories they had to cut. My wife was unhappy, I missed my family, and so it was time for me to move back to Georgia. When we moved back home I went to work for Western Power Sports due to the fact they were a Christian backed atmosphere, and my brother had already worked for them. We thought things were going to work out, but I became sicker as each day progressed. It got to a point where I couldn’t even go to work. I ended up leaving and that was the end of it.
What is your exact diagnosis?
I do have Crohn’s disease, along with a bacterial intestine infection. The doctors found a Polip in my colon, which I’m 28 years old, and normally you do not find that in a 28-year-old person. On top of that I have a high risk of Cancer and a high risk of Diabetes. The doctors also believe once I get all of my medication dialed in (which I’m on a lot of medication right now) that I’ll be okay. I’m just getting the medication under control right now.
How was your amateur career? Did you have a pretty successful career before making the jump into the pro ranks?
I had an amazing amateur career! As many people know, I grew up with the all-time winningest rider, Ricky Carmichael, and I’m the only rider to truly beat him on a regular basis. The only reason I couldn’t beat him more…I was a mental case! I would get nervous every time I raced him. If I rode like I know how to ride I could have beat him a lot more. I think I won four Loretta Lynn’s titles along with numerous titles at Texas and Las Vegas. I had a wonderful amateur career. I was with Kawasaki my entire life. Bruce Stjernstrom, Sharon Richards, and Craig Martin all took such great care of me. I also want to give props to Todd Hicks at Fox. He really took good care of me.
What was it like for you coming into your first Supercross race? Weren’t you riding for Team Tecate, or something like that?
Yeah. Well…a lot of people don’t know this, but I showed up at my first Supercross race on a regular Mitch Payton bike. It was nothing too special. I ended up getting the holeshot in my very first Supercross race. I was leading the thing and I only had one and a half weeks on the bike. I ended up getting pretty nervous and falling in the whoop section. I hit my stomach and knocked the wind out of myself, but it scared me so bad I realized I had to back it down a little bit.
How was it being able to ride for Mitch Payton? Is there a lot of pressure coming from him?
There is a ton of pressure when you ride for Mitch Payton, but most of the pressure is coming from yourself. He was tough on me, I’m not going to lie; he was very tough. I fought through it and won a championship. I stayed with Mitch for five years. He told me he had a lot of riders like Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath come up through the ranks, however, he never had somebody whom he truly cared about like he did me. What hurts my feelings now is I feel like I’m just another rider, I understand that’s business, but he told me anything I ever need to let him know. I’ve been teaching motocross schools now. I just want to thank Kawasaki, Pro Circuit, WPS and Tucker Rocky for the opportunity, Parts Unlimited for being so good to me, and the rest of my sponsors. I want to thank the Lord, Jesus Christ for giving me the ability I have!
How are the motocross schools going?
They motocross schools have been going very well! If anybody wants to do a motocross school I can be reached on my cell phone number: 770-865-8374. Shaebentley.com is also in the works. I charge $300.00 a day, for two days it’s $500.00. There are different levels of riders, so I have my own private tracks in Georgia. I can also go to the rider as well. I’m going to Bermuda before Loretta Lynn’s to train a few kids.
What do you have planned for the future, Shae?
Carey Hart and Huntington called me recently and they’re interested in starting an amateur team with me. Bell Helmets and Vortex are interested in having me work for them. I’m working on an invention right now, but I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t want somebody to take my idea from me. My biggest goal is to put God first, and my family. We want to have more kids. I want to be the husband and father that I’m suppose to be. Those are my goals.
How was it having Carey Hart approach you asking for your help in starting an amateur program?
It was amazing! Carey Hart didn’t actually call me; it was his partner, Donny. I am looking for a job, so if anybody out there is looking for a hard worker, who takes their stuff seriously, I am available and willing to talk. I want to thank my mechanic Todd Dunn for sticking by my side for so long! He’s been a wonderful friend to me and it means a lot. I also want to thank Kyle Cowling for always supporting me throughout my professional career and still wearing the big number 583 (making it look fast)! I want to thank all of my riders (they know who they are)! Finally, I want to thank Dano at DVS Shoes. He’s one of a kind and a great person.