Four teams in one year. That’s Shane McElrath’s 2022 story, as he started with Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS until that squad folded, then filled in with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna and Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha. Then, he made a deal with the new Rick Ware Racing team, which had started pursuit of the new FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX).
The problem for Shane is that just two years ago he was a high-level racer in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, battling none other than Chase Sexton for the 250SX East Region Championship. But he pointed out of the AMA’s 250 class without a title, and since then has found himself scratching and clawing for rides, advice, support, and even pay.
Then he landed with Rick Ware and won the SX2 title in the new version of WSX. He’s finding his footing again. Here’s how that whole program came together, and what it means for Shane’s career going forward.
Racer X: So, how would you describe this team? Did they reach out to you? Did you reach out to them? How did you build a bike?
Shane McElrath: Yeah, so Rick first came to me, and he said “Hey, I want to win a World Championship, and I want you to do it. I don’t know what that looks like, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes.” It honestly took us six weeks to two months to try to get this done. Because I wanted to search out every avenue. If you want to win, we’ve got to do everything we can, and I wanted to make sure he was aware of that. So I talked to different people and different teams just to see if I could get any help—even suspension help. And at the time there just wasn’t a lot of options out there. I was actually going to lease a bike from ClubMX, before they had committed to World Supercross. So Brandon [Haas, ClubMX Owner] had to say no. He said, “There are certain parts that are hard to get and I can’t promise you that I would be able to give you a bike.” So we got to the point where we were going to build a bike from scratch. Twisted Development would do the motors and Enzo would do the suspension. Those are good resources. Rick said what he was willing to pay, and we kind of negotiated a little bit as far as the terms of it, and what it looks like for still racing AMA supercross, and keeping things open. So, we got a two-year agreement for World Supercross only, with an opening for AMA supercross where I can ride for any team and any brand in supercross. And for World Supercross, I could pick any bike brand, from scratch.
At the time it was me, Colt [Nichols] and Ryan Breece, we were all on Yamahas. They had Joey [Savatgy] and he wanted a Kawasaki. It was fine. And the way the series worked out, with paying the teams, Rick didn’t need sponsor money. So it was like, we’re gonna do this deal this way right now, in hopes of someday getting a manufacturer deal. Once we get more time to get more sponsors, we can have other money to do other things.
Where did you do your riding and testing?
Before Cardiff I only rode four days. Two days on the race bike before they got shipped out, and two days on the practice bike the week before we left for Cardiff. We rode at Scott Road with the MotoConcepts and MDK guys. It’s the track that Derek Kelley leased, right in Menifee. It’s private, but the MCR guys and MDK rented it. We also got the Yamaha test track for two days, and then we rode at the Yamaha track again for two days between Cardiff and Australia.
So you just used some connections to get onto the factory Yamaha track?
Yeah pretty much. At first Colt was kind of scheduling everything for us, but when he left, I got Jim Roach’s [at Yamaha] number from him and asked if we could ride there. He said it was no problem.