03/02/2012 by Pockets
March’s rider of the month is Shelby Rolen from Blaine, Tennessee. Shelby never thought she would ride a dirt bike, let alone race one. As a matter of fact, she was terrified of them as a child. Few people know that Shelby gained the public eye as a national level pageant girl. It wasn’t until Shelby turned 7 she realized she wanted a dirt bike and has been hooked ever since.
At first Shelby only raced local events however; as her brother got more into racing, Shelby’s family began to travel to surrounding states such as Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia to race more events. The next step for the Rolen family was to begin looking forward to Loretta Lynn's. In 2001, Shelby just turned 12 before the event and was able to compete in the girls 12-15 class. Things didn’t go as planned that year, but a lot was learned. The next try at Loretta’s was in 2003. Things went better, but clutch issues limited Shelby’s success. The guys from Honda concluded that Shelby was so small, that she had to use her clutch in excess to keep the front wheel down, which contributed to her clutch issues.
Finally at the end of 2004, things began to change for the better. Shelby had success in the minibike class at the WMA cup in Texas and things were looking towards a successful 2005 season. After a successful minibike season, it was time to step up to the big bikes and Shelby’s parents bought her a Suzuki RM 125. She was very happy with the bike, but still had some trouble with bike control due to her size. Shelby acquired her first four stroke in 2007, which allowed her to utilize camshafts from Hotcams to help with her motor setup. In 2008, Shelby finished 6th at Oakhill on her new four stroke and received a top 5 in several classes of the WMA Cup. In 2009, a torn ACL, along with a thumb injury kept Shelby out of competition for several events.
2010 was Shelby’s most memorable season. She was able to finish in the top 10 at Loretta’s and she discovered the challenge of GNCC Racing. Shelby finished 6th in points her first year competing in cross country racing. “I feel the Pivot Works Watertight Wheel Collar kits are a must, especially in cross country events”. Shelby also ran her first WMX pro race, gaining the experience needed to run in the premier class. At the end of the season, Shelby was plagued with more injuries. A dislocated shoulder resulted in a severe tear of the labrum, required 7 screws to properly reattach. After 4 months of recovery, Shelby was finally cleared to ride. Unfortunately, after 3 days back on the bike Shelby broke her collarbone, requiring a plate and 8 screws to fix.
Needless to say, Shelby’s 2011 season got off to a slow start. She rode a couple of GNCC races, but quickly realized that her heart was in Motocross. Shelby qualified for Loretta's again and finished 16th overall. She also decided to give WMX another shot at RedBud and finished 11th, but didn’t achieve the results she was hoping for. Shelby continued running the WMX series finishing 16th at Southwick and 14th at Steel City, with two top five starts. Shelby also finished 10th overall in the GNCC series.
As 2012 approaches, Shelby has stepped up her training efforts and is presently riding at Paradise Off-road Park in Macon, GA. Shelby has decided to run select GNCC races, all 8 WMX pro races and possibly Loretta Lynn’s. Shelby has also been an instructor at several FCA MX camps and has recently considered the possibility of becoming a trainer for the WSMX. None of this would be possible without all of her sponsors, with a special thanks to Hot Rods, Pivot Works, Hot Cams, Cylinder Works and Vertex Pistons. “These products have made it possible for me to race this season”.
Shelby would also like to thank her parents for all their sacrifices along the way. Shelby gains her inspiration from her grandfather who passed away in 2011; it’s his fight that keeps her going when things get tough.