Matthew Shea

Age: 40

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Classes Raced: 30 B, 40 B, and Open Intermediate

Sponsors: River Route Motorsports Lake Havasu, Carter Power Sports Las Vegas Nevada, EVS Motorsports

How long have you been racing and what led you to choose motocross?

I’ve been racing since I was about eight years old. I quit when I was 16 when my dad was almost killed in a car accident so I wasn’t able to afford to compete any longer. I grew up in Florida, racing all the big AMA stuff. The Winter Ams, Gold Cup, Loretta’s, Ponca. My Ponca results were never really good on 80s, 125s, and the two-stroke days. I quit and came back to the sport at 35 years old and I made Loretta’s in my first year back, made a top 10 and have been chipping away at it every year. Met some really good people out here at Perris Raceway, I have my friend, Brandon Beaver, he’s been a good support system for me out here in Southern California, as well as my friend Jimmy Sloan from Perris Raceway. A good family unit that gives me a lot of inspiration to have those types of people around you. I love the sport, it was a shame for me to walk away from it so long ago, but being back the last 5 years I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it.

How seriously do you take your racing? Is it just for fun or do you have bigger aspirations?

I think I’ve probably gone as far as I can so far, you know it might be nice to win Mammoth. I’ve won a few motos up there, I made it back to Loretta’s in 2014, you know racing the TransWorld stuff is a huge accomplishment. The competition is pretty good. I also compete in a lot of the AMA stuff, like King of the West, Cal Classic, and the Road to Mammoth which I won all last year. It was pretty nice to win all those championships. I’m just going to try to ride out the B class for the rest of the year and if I can continue on the pace that I’m moving at, then maybe I’ll have the aspirations to move up to the 30 pro class.

Do you participate in any other sports or have any hobbies?

I just work, I work really hard. I have my own drywall business. I remodel houses and that pays for the sport. It allows me to come out here [SoCal] for the last 5 years.

What is your favorite thing about being a motocross racer?

I think it’s the most brutal sport, like guys who play football, basketball, soccer, they get kicked in the shin or the fall down when they get hit, and they go “Oh, I got a bruise” or “I tore something” while most of us when we hit the ground we get really messed up. We’re almost like warriors, you know? We take an abundance of punishment even when we don’t crash, the body gets completely broken down, you’re battered and bruised. You see guys 30+, 40+ and they’re hauling the mail. You got to realize we’ve been doing it for a long time and we’re in pretty bad shape, but we just love it so much we can’t walk away.

What would you rather do, holeshot a race and run away or come from behind to win?

I’d say 90% of my races are from coming behind, I can never seem to get a good start.

Tell me about your bike and why you chose it, and what have you done to make it work for you?

I have a background in suspension, I’m really good at frame setup. I spent a lot of time consulting with Graham Brahm, he’s a suspension guy in Southern California. I go back and forth with him a lot, a lot of troubleshooting. My bike is well set up, I try to not modify my bikes too much, I try to keep the motors as stock as possible now. Just changed the gearing a little bit. As long as you get the frame, the rear axle, and the chassis set up really good and your suspension is dialed in, you can usually get away with a lot. It’s a lot more forgiving for you on the track if you understand those dynamics.

How is racing in the Vet classes different than regular classes from your youth?

Well I kinda moved away from the regular 450 Intermediate class about a year and a half ago. The Vet riders just want it as bad as the young guys, we just don’t tend to go as fast as the 450 Intermediate guys. When I wasn’t placing so well I realized I need to start racing in my age group. From there on, I just realized those guys are just on a step above us, youth is on their side. It’s nice to come out here, we work really hard and give it all we got. A lot of us have to go to work on Monday so we have an intensity to win, but also a huge safety factor.

What satisfaction do you get from a good weekend of racing?

There’s a lot of satisfaction, not only from winning but there are a lot of guys out here that I see every weekend and sometimes we finish 1,2,3. I come out here, and I get to share a lot of personal growth with people. You make good friends and good relationships, and it makes you feel like you win all around. When every weekend feels like that, I just feel like I’m on top.

So tell me about coming out here from Las Vegas? What brings you out here?

I moved to Las Vegas because I was all into the nightclub DJ thing for many years. I moved there and I didn’t like the nightclub business, so I went back into remodeling houses and drywall with commercial residential work. I hadn’t raced in 16 years and I went to a motocross race, my heart rate got so pumped just watching it. So, I had a good amount of money from saving for years and I wondered if I could even ride anymore after so many years, but I got a bike and I came out to Perris. I met my friends Brandon and Jimmy and it just took off from there. It’s been a blessing, but also a lot of success.

How often do you make the trip to SoCal?

Every single weekend for the past five years, unless I’ve gotten hurt. I try to race as much as I can.

The TransAm Vet Classic is March 23-25 at Glen Helen, do you think you will try to attend?

Totally looking forward to the Trans Am, that looks like a nice change in venue for the Vet riders, the three moto format should be really intense, it’ll give us a lot of track time and I feel like it will be a really great event. I am glad that TransWorld Motocross decided to do something like that for us, it’s almost like a reward in itself.