By Jensen Amyotte
Name: Shannatay Bergeron
Date of Birth: May 26, 1992
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Occupation: Healthcare executive leadership
Race Number: 19
Bike: Honda 250f
Race Club: Rocky Mountain Riders Association and Motoplayground Events
Classes: Womens Pro (Women’s Allstar as they call it in Colorado), Womens 12+ for LL events, 250B, 25+B, 30+ B
Who/what inspired you to get into the sport of motocross and how long have you been racing/riding?
My father and grandfather showed me a love for two wheels at a very early age. My dad bought me a bicycle for my third birthday. I threw a fit, saying I wanted a motorcycle and he challenged that I couldn’t have one until I could ride my bicycle without training wheels. My brother and I took off the training wheels that day and I rode down the street, first try. I’ve been in love ever since – and my dad has refused to make a deal with me since.
When not on a dirt bike, how do you keep yourself busy? Are you involved in any other sports or extracurricular activities?
Yes! My fiance and I love to live the adventurous life. When not on dirt bikes, we are on the water – wakeboarding or surfing as much as possible. We do live in Colorado where the winters are challenging for water or dirt bike sports so we turn to snowboarding and hockey. My job keeps me very busy all year round and so does his so free time is not something we often have.
As a racer, are there any obstacles you feel a female racer has to deal with that maybe a male racer does not?
I grew up with the mentality of if I try hard enough, I can succeed regardless of my gender. I have always strongly believed that. Since becoming an adult and joining the professional world, it actually made me grateful for the world of motocross and how welcoming it is of female racers. I raced when WMX still existed in the United States – back in the (Ashley) Fiolek and (Jessica) Patterson days (holy smokes they could rip) and we raced the same days as the guys at the pro nationals which made for sponsorship and career opportunities. I’m bummed that it doesn’t exist for the future generation as it does make it difficult for financial support.
From your first ride to where you are now, what is something you never thought you would be able to overcome but have?
I was young and immature in my teenage years and I honestly never thought I’d overcome getting injured. Turns out, I had to slow down to go faster as my dad always said. I never thought I’d get faster with age but I’ve done that. Everyone I ride with thinks I’m faster now than when I was that wild out of control teenager willing to risk it all to try and win.
Who is your all-time favourite rider and why?
Oh, this is a tough question. From the women’s side, I think it would have to be Ashley Fiolek. It was so awesome watching her post the same lap times as some of the 250 riders back in the day – as that hadn’t really happened before. As for men, I’m a big Eli Tomac fan. He carries himself well and really represents what hard work can do for someone without having to have this alter ego or personality to attract the fans.
What is your favourite track and why?
I grew up in the sand dunes of California so if I had to pick I’d say a sand track would be my favorite – and in Colorado we have Sweney Cycle Park that always gives your body a run for its money with sand whoops. We were fortunate this summer to ride Swan MX in Texas after a torrential downpour. That made the track epic – so much traction, plus rough and rutted. If Swan was like that all the time, it might take the cake for my favorite.
What event do you look forward to most every year, one you don’t ever want to miss?
I love the Motoplayground events. Regardless of if it’s Camp Boom Diggity, Ponca or Spring A Ding, I’m always wanting to hit one of their races to enjoy the atmosphere, plus Harold and Layne are always so welcoming of us!
Who has been your biggest inspiration/hero on and off the track?
My biggest inspiration was probably my grandma. She grew up in the era where the wife was meant to cook and clean. Ironically, as a kid, I was not the nicest to her – only ever wanting to hangout with Grandpa. But as I grew older, I realized what a strong and independent woman she was all while still caring for her family.
Do you have a pre-moto rituals?
When I’m nervous I’ll wiggle a lot. I used to call it dancing but they’re some pretty terrible dance moves! I also like to be on the gate taking deep breaths and calming my heart rate. I try to eat good food to fuel me through the moto and through the day.
Tell us about your 2022 race season.
2022 was more of a calm year for me. In 2021 we decided we would try for Loretta Lynn’s – something I’d never been to before – and made it. We raced a lot and trained really hard (my fiance is an olympian so when I told him this was my goal, he took helping me train to a whole new level which was so awesome). Because of 2021, we decided to only race the races we thought would be fun in 2022. I say we took it easy but did earn the 2022 Women’s Allstar Championship Plate for the RMRA Plate Series here in Colorado.
What are your biggest accomplishments to date?
Honestly, I’m proud that I was able to race dirt bikes growing up and find such a passion in life. I’m also really proud that I was able to realize when I needed to step back and focus on my future, knowing dirt bikes weren’t going to pay the bills. I joke I have two personalities – one that’s the adventurous dirt biker and the other that’s a professional at the office. If I run into people from the “other world,” they are always so shocked to see the two sides of me that exist. I’m proud that I’ve found a way to have a great career while still fulfilling my passion for dirt bikes.
What is the biggest lesson that motocross racing has taught you so far?
To persevere through the hardest times. To slow down to go faster (both in racing and in the professional world).
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I love this question because my answer 5 years ago was not anywhere near where I am today. My new answer to this, based on experience, is that in five years I want to be genuinely happy, continue living this adventurous life, and adding value to my family, friends, and employees’ lives. What that actually translates to, I’m not sure. I guess we’ll have to wait five years to find out!
Are there any females out there who you feel have paved the way for other girls to be successful in motocross or off road?
I think Sarah Whitmore, Jessica Patterson and Ashley Fiolek all broke the mold. They showed the incredible talent women can have – especially during an era where “girls doing boy sports” was more taboo than it is today.
What kind of track/dirt do you feel you excel at most and why?
Sand or tacky – because who doesn’t love twisting the throttle in a sand corner and just whipping around. Then in tacky dirt, everyone is happy. The tiniest little ledge in a corner can turn into the best traction and it’s so satisfying.
If you ever have children will you give them the option to race as well?
Absolutely. It will be entirely up to them but I want them to have every opportunity like I did.
If you could give 1 piece of advice to a female of any age who wants to start riding, what would it be?
Do it. Don’t be afraid to talk to people at the track too. Ask people on social media what it’s like, where to go, or if you could even ride together. Leverage those already at the track for support. I know it can be intimidating to go to a new track, but I think most people at the track would help anyone in need or give advice to help another person fall in love with dirt bikes the way we have. Ok, that was more than 1 but I think the only way we’ll grow our sport is to help each other and share what we’ve already learned.
What was your first fear when you started riding and how did you overcome it?
Overall, I would say my biggest or most consistent fear was failure. As a kid, I was fairly fearless (to a fault even). I used to joke that concussions were the best injury because you didn’t remember what happened, therefore didn’t have fear when you returned.
What was your first race number and how did you choose it?
My first race number was 919. I picked this because my hockey number was 9, but because I was just starting I needed a 3 digit number. I didn’t want 999 and my dad suggested 199 but I also don’t like sharing or copying so although I admire Travis Pastrana, I didn’t want to share a number with him so I just went with 919.
Do you see yourself ever competing in the Canadian WMX Triple Crown series?
I’ve thought about this lately! I think it’s awesome to see it happening. Logistically for me living in the United States and having my job, it would be tough to make. Should that change, I’d be all game for it!
What are your thoughts on the Canadian WMX Triple Crown series?
I think it’s incredible there is an avenue like this for women to continue racing. I like that the races are clumped together which makes it easier for people traveling from far away to make it.
What do you like to do in the off season?
In the off season I enjoy snowboarding mostly. I also enjoy traveling with my fiance as it’s his season. He gets to go all over the world so tagging along to all the different mountains is really cool, not to mention we see some pretty awesome countries.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a person who’s made a difference. Someone who’s left an imprint on society and improves the lives of others.
Who would you like to thank?
I would like to thank my family – from my dad for always going to the races with me, to my brothers for pushing me and my sister for being our cheerleader. My fiance for his dedication and support on every goal I set – especially when it means flying straight to a race and being my pit crew with jet lag in full swing. My grandparents for always supporting my less than normal life and teaching me the love of motorcycles so young. In addition to that, Sun Enterprises, Corning Snow, Elevation Detail, Novik, MWC Creative, AEO Powersports and Never Summer Industries. I couldn’t do it without all of these people supporting my love for motorcycles, so a genuine thank you.