Out of the Blue | Shayla Cassidy | Schrader’s

By Jeff McConkey

‘Out of the Blue’ is presented by Schrader’s.

Name:  Shayla Cassidy

Birthday: February 25,  2002

Hometown:  Thomasburg, Ontario

School and Grade:  Grade 10

Number:  25

2016 YZ125

Race Club:  AMO/MMRS, Bayside Trail Blazers, OCMC/BTB Ice Race Series

Classes:  Ladies A, SchoolBoy 1

This week, ‘Out of the Blue’ features Shayla Cassidy. | Nicole Mistelbacher photo

How did you get started in racing?

My uncle told my dad that there were these unbelievable kids riding dirt bikes like crazy in Madoc and that we should go watch. I was 9 years old. We went on the Saturday – it would have been a Nationals weekend, I think. My brother and I already told our dad that we were definitely doing this sport, so we dragged mom out again on the Sunday. We had a little dirt bike on our farm – we’d putt around on it. Like totally putt. After we witnessed actual racing, mom threw that dirt bike on Kijiji and we bought a couple of 65’s and signed up for the MMRS school (that was cold and snowy’ish, by the way!) We’ve been addicted ever since.

As a little girl, did you ever expect to be this deep into a sport like motocross?

I have always done competitive gymnastics – power tumbling and trampoline. I was pretty used to being judged and could totally handle the stress that came with a highly competitive sport. My mom and dad are karate instructors, so ‘non-traditional’ sport is definitely a way of life in our house. (no hockey – no offense!) Honestly, I’m not sure that I actually saw ‘throttles and engines’ in my future. Everything I’d done this far had been just me and a karate or gym mat. Now I couldn’t imagine a life without a dirt bike.

Do you think motocross is harder for a female to compete in?

NO way! It’s crazy hard for everybody, EQUALLY (Laughs)! Some gates for women are much smaller – so if you looked at that alone, then you could say it’s a bit easier for some of the women – less crowded out there. But once you get hooked, like right into this sport, then you’ll find that we women will find other classes to ride in – we get out there and line up in some of the other busy classes. Mostly to push ourselves – nothing to do with equality, harder or easier – it just becomes about pushing yourself to go faster and get better. 

Who is your favourite rider and why?

My favourites are the ones that I’m close to or have raced nearby, or have watched grow with me. There are a number of super amazing girls and women of every skill level that I watch and admire or high five coming off the track. Sure, there’s all the famous Supercross guys, but my favourites will always be the ones close to home.  The ones at my side.

Is there one lady racer out there that you think has paved the way for other girls to be successful in the sport?

For me, personally – because I’d watch her ride when we were all younger, and she seemed so crazy fast and super cool – I’d have to say Lindsay Bradley. There was just something about her that made me want to get to where she was. Best day ever was getting to play cat and mouse with her on a practice day (she was always the fast cat, but it still really helped me with skills).  She is always encouraging young girls, and makes herself approachable for the rest of us. Very cool woman.

What Canadian Pro do you look up to and why?

Kassie Boone, for sure! That was always just some name that I’d hear over the PA system once in awhile at races. She was like, way way beyond me. In 2017, I got to race with her. She was completely SO far ahead of me that it was like I was in another race – but I still get to say I raced Kassie Boone!

Shayla lists Lindsay Bradley as a rider she looks up to. | Juli Butler photo

What is your favourite track and why?

Without a doubt, Madoc. Super fun track – love the pits, the town, the canteen ladies’ onion rings. And that track is where it all started for me. Love it there. AND it is extremely close to my house – so RV drive time is short and sweet.

Who is your hero?

My little sister – Cypress Wish Cassidy. She is 7 years old, and has Down Syndrome.  She is fearless and funny, wise and witty, she is completely random and curious. She is a total little ripper – SO courageous.  She always finds a reason to smile and joke around. She has been a blessing to our family and makes me keep everything in perspective. Oh..and she loves bacon.  A lot. She would step on me to steal my bacon. 

What are your goals for this season?

Work on my terrible starts.  Plus, of course…get faster. Get stronger. Oh…but most accurately, catch up to Kelcey Jones, and try to stay way ahead of Hailey Johnson! Those girls can rip on those 250’s so I need to play harder on my 125.

What are your biggest accomplishments?

I think the best thing in the sport was when that switch was flipped. I was always very happy to ‘just ride.’  Last place every race. I just cruised along, rode into the pits completely happy with how I did. Something happened somewhere along the way and I just seemed to ‘get it’ better.  Once that happened, I could then break down the track, the skills, the race, my emotions – everything. 

What is your favourite part about going to the races?

Friends, of course! Racing is amazing, any chance to ride is incredible, but none of it would be as enjoyable if I didn’t have friends at my side doing the same thing out there. And I’m not talking just about friends my age – it’s the whole pit family crew – camping every weekend with family, older generations of riders, staff, everybody. That is why I love the sport so much.

What do you like to do when you aren’t racing?

I coach gymnastics to younger kids, so that takes up a lot of my time. We have a family farm, too – chores, firewood….LOTS of firewood.  In the MX off-season, I start ice racing – so I really only get from November to January off before it’s time to hit the ice track.  

In the winter, Shayla can be found on the ice. | Mao Ouyang photo

Is it important to have a motocross racer as a boyfriend/husband, or just a bonus?

Welllll…… It just so happens that my boyfriend rides – I don’t think it’s important necessarily to seek out someone that matches your sport interest, but it does have its bonuses. Great for conversation, for sure. You know…..comparing ‘kicker crash’ stories, shopping for gear together, building tracks or whatever. Works for us!

If you ever have children, will they be motocross racers ?

Ok…I am SO not thinking about having kids right now…but eventually in the far far far away future, if I’m still riding then I would like to think my kids would be into it. But hey, if they want to join Band Camp instead, or they hate all motorsports – well, I’d want them to be happy doing whatever they enjoy.  My parents have afforded my brother and I the opportunity to follow this passion when it had nothing at all to do with their own pasts. 

Who do you want to thank?

Big huge thanks to my parents first, for sacrificing everything to keep my brother and I racing. To the entire Venedam Race Team – for being there during every step of my growth in this sport.  To Ron, Louise and Scott Cameron – for encouraging my brother and I, and for knowing when to push and when to hug.  To George Jones and Giver Racing – for being an absolute Godsend to have in our corner as a sponsor, as a teacher, a technician, an ice race king and a family friend.  To John and Jean Maguire – for giving myself and my family the very best opportunities to succeed as a family unit in this sport.  To Joseph Doran of JD Medical Brace Solutions – for insuring that my knees will see a long and healthy future with my custom fit Breg knee braces.To Dawn McClintock and FXR, for making your presence known out there and for supporting our riders.  And to my brother Saul, a fellow racer – for always keeping my ego in check.