Weekend Warriors | McElrath & Bell At REM

The back of Glen Helen Raceway is best known as the “REM Motocross Track,” and nearly every Saturday the dedicated Vet classes of Southern California take to the course for 20 minute motos. Built much like what they spent their early years riding, the prep and sheer number of bikes turn the track into a choppy circuit that challenges even the best racers, without any jaw-dropping leaps or risky obstacles. Just before the start of each Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the promoters at REM Motocross lure some of the sport’s fastest to the line by upping the Pro divisions to 30 minute motos, so we headed out last weekend to catch Shane McElrath and Zach Bell run with the weekend warriors.

McElrath and Bell overcame small issues in the day, as McElrath was shuffled deep in the first moto after a poor start and Bell crashed following an issue with a lapper in moto two. But the incredible speed and racing talent both displayed by running against each other and through the Intermediate class (which hit the track on a second gate-drop) proves the young racers are ready for the long summer ahead.

Weekend Warrior | Zach Bell

Healing from the latest injury and the required time off…

“Everything is going good. I've had a good offseason of training with my trainer Gavin Gracyk. I came out here to get a little bit of preparation in before the National and it was all going good until the second moto. I think I got into the lappers on the second lap and one cut over on me and took me out. Other than that, it's been a good day.”

“It's really good to come out, get on the starting line, and get your feet wet. Shane (McElrath) was riding awesome today and the track was rough, so you had to be smooth to do what you needed to do.”

“My collarbone healed up in like a week, but they actually cut some muscles from the top of my collarbone and that took longer than anything. It was about a two and a half month process, and four months until my shoulder felt completely good. I'm just looking forward to the Nationals.”

“I've been on the bike again for two months now and it has been solid time. I wanted to come out here to show that I am strong and can be in the front. It was good in the first moto, but not the second.”

Training in Florida with Gavin Gracyk compared to California…

“I like it a lot better staying back at home. I have my own facility with four tracks and the weather is a lot hotter there, so it is good to train in the humidity. These West Coast Nationals are pretty hot also, but it is dry and you have to be used to everything.”

“Gavin is a good guy and trainer, and there is no quitting when we are in the gym or on the track. He has helped me out a lot and can't think him enough.”

Coming back after injury, expectations for the summer, and contract talks for 2015…

“Putting 15 years in it, I'm not going to quit now. It's always time to put your head down and keep looking forward. You can't bring the negatives in, because it will only bring bad vibes. I'm just going to let it go and do more motos.”

“Right now my speed is good and my fitness is a lot better than last year. I just want to be in the top ten for every race, because last year coming in with a shoulder injury and not knowing what was wrong with it, I couldn't do much. But this year I am strong and ready to go.”

“We have to wait util the end of the Nationals. The last few years have been rough and I haven't been able to catch a break. But I want to land on the podium and show that I'm the guy to beat.”


PAGE TWO: Shane McElrath

Weekend Warrior | Shane McElrath

Reflecting on his rookie Supercross season…

“I was just kind of getting the feel for everything, just trying to keep it fun. I was getting better and better at every race and was looking forward to it during the week. San Diego came and I had my best race, but then we had a seven-week break. It kind of offset me a bit, because I was in the flow and feeling good, and then we started on outdoors. It took a while to get in after that and I had some mishaps in the last couple of rounds. I maybe was expecting too much out of myself, because I knew where I could run. To finish healthy and in the top ten, I can't take anything way from that.”

“Growing up you are like, ‘All I want to do is race.’ And that is really what we get to do. We train during the week and that is our job and what we are paid to do. I enjoy working out and getting better, so it's not as tough on me as it is for the other riders who just want to show up and race. I enjoy every bit of it and it is pretty close to what I expected. But it is still tough work.”

Prepping for the Nationals…

“We haven't gotten to do too much testing. Between Seattle and Vegas I didn't ride much, and then pretty much took the week off after Vegas to refresh and everything. I cleared my head and this past week has been our first week of testing and training. We knocked out quite a bit then and we still have quite a bit of time left to go before Glen Helen.”

“I'm excited to get back to ClubMX and back to training with the group of guys there. It is not much different (than last year), but as we were doing Supercross it was more about quantity of working out prior to Loretta's last year. We upped the game a little bit and intensified a little bit to keep going.”

“I can't wait to go back East. I've gotten used to it out here and don't mind it, but I'm out here by myself all the time. In the last couple of days I've gotten sweet tea from Chick-Fil-A and since I haven't had any since leaving home, it's good [laughs].”

The benefit of racing REM over an ordinary practice day…

“When you are training to do long motos, it's never the same as when the gate drops. To get into the race mode and pace as practice before the Nationals is good. Your mechanic will say, ‘We are going to do this,’ and you go out whenever you want and finish when he says time is up. But now everyone starts together and finishes together, and the intensity is higher anytime you race over practice.”

Expectations for the summer…

“Last year I came in dealing with a shoulder injury and know I've overcome that. I was kind of intimidated to race with everybody and having all the fast guys there. But after racing Supercross and getting to know how all the riders do there, I am ready to start racing. I'm not worried about where I am going to finish; I just want to go out and do motos the same way I ride at the practice track.”

Contract talks for 2015…

“We are waiting it out right now and don't have anything set-up yet, but we are talking and it looks pretty good. But I need to go out and do my best.”