Born and raised on a dairy farm in #Petaluma, this was the landscape for which she first learned how to ride motorcycles. She rode motorcycles out of necessity rather than for pleasure. Her love for riding on two wheels came when she got her first motocross bike and was able to take advantage of having fun on them in the open fields on their ranch. It was here she dreamed of becoming a motorcycle racer. For road racing she only became part of it as a fan watching Petaluma’s Bostrom brothers (Ben and Eric), known by other racers as “The Boz Bros”. She not only idolized them, but Eric became a role model for her when she became part of the same racing team Parker Brammo.
In racing sports there is always someone right on your tail trying to beat your personal best. However there are some firsts that no other female will ever take away from Shelina. In this interview you will learn about them and some other things about her you will not find anywhere else. She’s loves her home town and often appreciates it more when she travels. Following is an interview that I conducted with her after recently finishing the LARRs Qatar Superbike Championship in the Middle East to learn more about this amazing young rising star in this fast sport on two wheels. At the conclusion of this interview you will find out about a local camp that she is hosting for young racers, and a recent video interview on Wall Street Journal Live: Shelina Moreda: The Next Danica Patrick on Two Wheels?
Wayne: You were recently in the Middle East, was this your first time? Tell us about your experience there.
Shelina: I’ve been to Qatar 3 times now for racing, and had never been there before racing. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was first asked to go there to race for the QMMF Racing Team, but I’m always excited about new adventures, so of course I dove in to this one head first too. Qatar is a huge supporter and promoter of sports, so my experience there reflected that. I am treated so well when I am in Qatar by everyone associated with racing there. I joke and say I feel like a Motorcycle Princess when I’m there, but it’s only partly a joke. I feel like I’m really in my element in Qatar. There is a ton to do before and after the races and I’m always given time to explore. I got to visit the “Old Souq” market and try all kinds of candies and local foods, got to ride quads in the Arabian desert, got to check out their malls and went on a boat ride in their beautiful blue ocean. Even driving around there is interesting, the buildings are all being worked on constantly and it’s a completely different experience than here in the states. I’m all about the experience.
Wayne: You recently finished the LARRs Qatar Superbike Championship how was the competition and how did you ride?
Shelina: The LAARS Championship is such an honor to be a part of. The Losail track is world class, we get to race at night under the lights and it’s just a spectacular experience for me. Racing at night is my favorite. They invited 5 of the fastest girls from each of 5 different countries to come race against the Qatari guys in the LARRS series and this makes the competition there pretty stiff. I’m proud to be racing against such great competition. For me, starting midway through the season meant I had to catch on quick. My first race weekend was great, my second was a struggle, and by our final round I started to find my groove. I wrapped up the season with 2nd place in one race and a crash out of 2nd in the next, securing 3rd overall in the Championship, with a trophy that I’m extremely proud of.
Wayne: I understand this was your first time racing at night, did that make if more challenging?
Shelina: I love riding at night, so racing at night is something I’ve wanted to do since I wanted to race. For me I love the ambiance of riding at night. It’s the coolest feeling ever. The lights at Losail are really great, so it’s not hard to see the track or anything. But when you look up at that black Arabian sky… it’s amazing and I could live in that moment for a long long time. It makes it more rewarding, more satisfying.
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Wayne: Did you grow up in Petaluma? What do you like best about Petaluma?
Shelina: I was born and raised in Petaluma on the West Side on a Dairy farm. I love everything about Petaluma and the more I travel the more I realize that. It’s beautiful and has a small town feel, even still, and the old Petaluma families are all pretty tight-knit. I couldn’t do anything wrong growing up or the Dolcinis, the Cordas or the Chedas would go tell on me. I love that we are close enough to the city that I got to learn both worlds, country and city, but got all the values that growing up in a farm-town has to offer. I loved showing at the fairs and having a really short drive to the beach. I also love the community feel that Petaluma has.
Wayne: How did you get into it motorcycle racing?
Shelina: I blame it on my parents for telling me that I could do anything in life that I want to do…. I took them seriously and went for it. They taught me to work hard, and it’s a good thing because racing is way more work than I ever thought it would be. We always rode motorcycles on the ranch, Dad put us to work bringing the cows in with them, and he just didn’t have any idea what he was starting. I got a dirt bike when I was 12 and we watched AMA road racing out at Sears Point. I had all the Pro riders posters on my wall and just decided that’s where I wanted to be. I snuck home with a street bike when I was 17, started riding on the back roads and up Highway 1 and one day decided to go seriously chase my dreams. I went pro only a year and a half after that day.
Wayne: Where did you graduate from High School? What was your favorite subject and teacher?
Shelina: That’s a tough one… I graduated from Petaluma High and I think I’d have to say that in high school, my favorite teacher was probably Mr. King, my welding teacher. He was so strict, but such a good teacher. He expected a lot of us, and he saw a fire in me. He pushed me to compete, brought me to welding competitions and even helped get me my first welding job at Martin Ranch Supply in Rohnert Park. I ended up becoming a certified welder while I was in college. Not only did Mr. King give me a skillset that I used in “real life” but he also taught me to push my limits, expect more, and to be the best at what I did. He didn’t accept less, and I admire that.
Wayne: When did you start racing?
Shelina: I only started racing 5 1/2 years ago. I’m still relatively new actually. I never rode at the track before I raced or anything.
Wayne: Who is your inspiration for the sport?
Shelina: For one, my Dad, if he wasn’t a dairyman he’d be a pro flat track racer. He’s so fast. I love riding with him too, we love spending that time together. Also all the guys I used to watch on TV and have on my wall… the Bostrom Brothers (from Petaluma), Aaron Yates, Steve Rapp, the Haydens. I really always looked up to those guys. It’s pretty awesome, I’m friends with most of them now and they give me racing tips.
Wayne: How did your mother and father feel about you putting on leathers and spinning around tracks at high speeds on two wheels?
Shelina: They didn’t like it at first. Not one bit actually. Not only for the danger but also the cost, it’s really expensive to get into racing and they made it clear that they would not help me out in that department. My parents are very business savvy and they didn’t see going racing as a smart business decision. They’ve always morally supported me in all of my [sometimes a little crazy] decisions though, and they came around on this one too. I think Dad was sold when I became the first female ever to race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a motorcycle, and Mom was sold the first time she got to go to Italy with me because of my racing. Now they are my go-to’s on a lot of my racing decisions and they help me a lot with the Girlz MotoCamps that I started.
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Wayne: You are really breaking the glass ceiling in a male dominated sport, can you tell me about your firsts as a female in motorcycle racing? Do the male racers give you a hard time?
Shelina: I’m out there to be a racer, and the guys know and respect that. I’m not there to prove anything for the girls and I’m not getting any special concessions as a female on the racetrack. The guys give me at least as hard a time as they give the other guy racers, and I expect nothing less. Nobody likes to get beat by a girl (not even me), so sometimes I do hear some trash talk when I’m faster than a guy, but that’s almost like a compliment anyway, it means I did well. Mostly the guys are super supportive. They want to see me beating the other guys.
It was pretty awesome making history at Indy as the first female to ever race a motorcycle there, and being on TV and the radio for it. I was also the first female to race an electric bike on the international level, the first female to race in the FIM e-Power series, and the first female to race in the AMA Pro Harley Davidson Vance & Hines Series.
Wayne: A first for Harley – I understand those bikes are much bigger and harder to handle – how was that experience?
Shelina: Heck yeah, they are big bikes (510 lbs) and I’m a little girl! But Man are they fun!! I grew up riding horses and the ones that buck are always the best challenge 🙂 The XR1200 is a ton of fun and a really awesome sounding bike. I wanted to race it for about a year while I was still racing AMA Pro Supersport on the 600s. It’s a completely different bike to the Yamaha R6 that I’m used to, and a lot of fun too.
Wayne: Racing is more than just a racer and involves a huge support system with sponsors, mechanics, etc… What does you support team look like?
Shelina: Racing involves huge support systems for sure. Sponsors are the biggest part of our racing and we couldn’t do it without them. We are constantly looking to partner with companies who want to get involved in the racing world and the marketing avenues it has to offer, and it’s more work than I ever thought before I started racing. I have a different support crew for each of the series I race in, with some overlaps. I race the Harleys, electric bikes, Yamaha 600s, Supermoto, and Flat Track. I have mechanics, engineers, PR professionals, an event manager, graphics designer and teammates, plus my family.
This season I’m very lucky to have support in the AMA Pro H-D Vance & Hines series from ChilipepperRacing.com, a really professional, yet down to earth team in the AMA paddock. Paul Diener and “Elvis” Johns are irreplaceable for me in this series.
For the Electric bikes I race with Team Parker Brammo. We have an entire crew of engineers and my job as their racer is to push the bikes to the limits and help them figure out how to make the bikes better. We are constantly improving them and it’s awesome to be a part of the newest vehicle technology.
In Qatar I race for QMMF Racing Team and my mechanic Agus Isaac, from Spain, is my right hand man. Traveling to Qatar also requires other logistical support and QMMF racing team has a crew for that.
In flat track and supermoto I’m privateer status and have several sponsors who help me out there. GP Fabrication maintains my bikes, BMC Racing brings me on their team when I’m on the East Coast, local guy Jimmy McAllister furnishes me with a bike when I’m on the West Coast.
Wayne: At high rates of speed everyone always think of the danger of crashing. Can you tell us about that?
Shelina: People always ask me about crashing and I do crash. Not something we try to do, but it happens and it’s part of racing and I learn from it every single time. I had a pretty hard crash last race in Qatar, I crashed at over 100 mph and it would have been just a lowside slide, but something caught and flipped me through the air and I tumbled an tumbled, but was able to get right up and walk away unscathed because of the awesome gear we wear. I have a great Arai helmet and top of the line AXO leathers, I have armor in my boots, leathers and gloves, and a custom back protector by Impact Safe-T armor. Its so important to have the right gear and to wear it, it’s the only reason I can learn so much from crashes and walk away from them confidently.
Wayne: Is there a way for people in Petaluma to follow you career on social media?
Shelina:I’m on Facebook a lot, I love interacting with people and race fans, and Facebook is a great way for me to do that. I’m becoming more active on Twitter @Shelina93 and now Instagram too as ShelinaMoreda. Instagram is great because I have way more photos than I want to post on Facebook so I can put them there.
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Wayne: Tell us what a typical day of training looks like for you.
Shelina: I try to stay active all the time. Living on a ranch makes this easier. I get bored if I just go to the gym so I have to spice it up and don’t have a “typical routine”. I ride dirt bikes for training a lot, that’s my favorite. When I can’t ride dirt bikes or I want to change it up, I do crossfit, go rock climbing, bicycle ride, or do hot yoga. When I’m traveling I do circuit training style WODs that I can do in a hotel room or hotel gym.
In addition to training I really watch what I eat. We grew up on whole milk, we have always had a garden, and we get fresh eggs from the chickens, so I was raised with a healthy style of eating. I try and maintain that as much as possible, and I eat a lot of high fiber foods, with real ingredients, not fake sugars and whatnot. Candy is a weakness for me though…
Wayne: When is your next race? Are there any races in the near future that will be close to Petaluma that local fans can come out and enjoy?
Shelina: We just raced at Sears Point, and I anticipate we will race there at the beginning of May next year again as well. I have a race in Monterey at Laguna Seca in July. If people really want to get a taste of what I do, I put on Girlz MotoCamps, where we have a 2 day school on how to ride or improve your riding. We have them here in Petaluma about once every month and a half this year.
Wayne:Tell us more about your Girlz MotoCamps?
Shelina:I do a lot of training on dirt bikes and I figured out that other people want to learn to train like this too. Our Girlz MotoCamps teach fundamental skills on a dirtbike that benefit and challenge every level of rider from absolute beginner to professional racer. It’s not just riding dirtbikes. It’s a whole experience, and it builds confidence, self empowerment, endurance and strength. One of my favorite things about the camps is the bonds they also build, the students walk away with new friends, new goals, and big smiles. I have some of the best female racers around as my instructors, Olivia Francis, Heather Mowell, and Sharon Mowell aka s_mowell190y. They are each at the top of their classes in the series they race and they are phenomenal teachers, excellent role models, and extremely encouraging of our students. I’m proud to have such a strong crew. We have one “Family Camp” in June, the 13-15 and the next Girlz MotoCamp is in August. [Click here for more information on how to register]
Wayne: I understand you created a brand called She’z Racing because if anyone asked where you were, this is the reply they would give. Tell us more about She’z Racing and what that is all about.
Shelina: She’z Racing is a brand I started to help promote my racing. We have a racing related apparel line and we have a team of umbrella girls who work for other racers as well as working events for She’z Racing. We do charity events like Wine for Wheels and the RIP City Riders Chili Billy Run. The She’z Racing crew also helps organize and support Girlz MotoCamps and offers scholarships to girls wanting to attend the MotoCamps. The website is www.ShezRacing.com
Wayne:They say you are the next Danica Patrick but on two wheels – what does your future look like in the sport of racing?
Shelina: I’m pretty different from Danica in a lot of ways, but I do appreciate the comparison. I think Danica is awesome and I respect how strong she is at marketing and getting her name known as an athlete. I want to be like the Amelia Earhart of motorcycle racing, a pioneer, advancing motorcycle technology and enthusiastically breaking glass ceilings. I want to be the best known female athlete in the United States (and beyond), and I want a lot more “firsts” and awesome adventures.
Wayne:Thank you so much for the interview and the best of luck to you
Chase Johnson from Petaluma is a 4th generation race car driver. He started his racing career at the early age of 5 and won six championships racing Outlaw Karts. Today, thirteen years later, he has 150 feature main event wins and 7 championships. Today he competes in high level sprint car racing and in 2012 was crowned Pit Stop USA Sprint Car Series Champion at Petaluma Speedway. A 2013 graduate of Petaluma High School, his peers named him “Most Likely to Go Pro” in Student Standouts section of his senior yearbook. However his racing and life came to an abrupt halt on the night of March 16, 2013 during a practice session when his sprint car’s steering wheel malfunctioned causing him to lose control of his vehicle. This terrible accident resulted in the death of his fourteen year old cousin, who also raced and was like a brother to him, and a 68 year old car owner who loved being at the track. In this interview you will learn about how Chase is doing today and how he has a changed view as a person and a competitor. Just this weekend Johnson charged to his first Podium of the Season at Petaluma Speedway placing third in the featured race.
Wayne:How does it feel to start your season off with two straight top 5’s?
Chase: It feels great, it has just pushed me even harder to improve and get closer to a win.
Wayne:Your car number is 24 – is there any significance to that number?
Chase: Yes I chose that number because I looked up to Jeff Gordon. He drove the number 24 when I was growing up and still is today in NASCAR. I look up to Jeff for many of reasons but the major one was that his career path was a lot similar to mine today. He started racing quarter midgets young in California and progressed into sprint cars and midgets which then took him to the stock car world to be a NASCAR driver. My path was I started running Outlaw Karts at age 5, then moved into the Sprint Car at age 14.
Last Saturday Chase Johnson of #Petaluma scored his first top five at the Petaluma Speedway even after overcoming mechanical problems. This was the first time he raced his family car this season. Click here for full article.