Canton motocross pro scores major win

By Kyle Perrotti | Jan 12, 2017
Photo by: Max McElrath Canton resident Shane McElrath, right, signs autographs before a motorcross race.

For the McElrath family of Canton, motocross racing is part of the pedigree.

Max, the patriarch, said there are stacks of old Mountaineer articles written about his love and aptitude for racing, and each of his five kids — two sons and three daughters — all raced at one time or another.

So when his fourth child, Shane, won the first major motocross event of 2017 last weekend, it should come as no surprise that his heart swelled with pride.

The win was especially great, considering the serious injuries Shane has sustained over the last couple years. Just over a year ago, he broke his wrist on his throttle hand and required 10 pins to rebuild the joint. Since then, he has had severely limited range of motion.

And that’s not even the worst of it. In July 2016, he suffered a terrible crash which left him with seven broken ribs, a bruised lung, a concussion and a separated shoulder.

But Shane never lost his positive outlook, which his father Max said runs in the family.

“He’s definitely an optimist through and through,” he said. “I’m one of those guys who sees the donut, not the hole, so I guess that’s where he got it from.”

Three months later, Shane returned to the track, and the result was downright disappointing. Although he was making the podium just prior to the injury, at the Monster Energy AMA Supercross he finished in 11th place.

Fast forward just three more months, and the 22-year-old won the Anaheim 1 — the first major win of his three-year career. And Max said that although Shane has recovered mentally, he still doesn’t think he is back to peak physical shape.

“He’s probably about 90 percent now,” he said.

Although Max said he is very proud of his son and even humbled by his success, he added that the fear of seeing Shane crash again is always lingering in the back of his mind.

“It is very nerve wracking,” Max said. “I didn’t used to worry about injuries because he kept all that protective equipment on. But pro riders don’t wear that stuff because they go so fast and jump so high that it doesn’t help as much. It used to be like he was covered in bubble wrap.”

But all the same, Max noted that his son is still driven to pursue his passion.

“The love of doing it drives him,” he said. “That’s how he overcame his injury and even his fear of injury.”

A major step for Shane, which may be a few years down the road, will be stepping up to the 450 cc class. The move, which is based on points earned by performing well on the track, can sometimes be delayed based on how long a rider is forced to stay off the track.

“He’s been injured so he hasn’t had the chance to move up yet,” Max said.

The tough part about moving up in class is that the races become more physically exhausting, especially considering the bikes are much faster and weigh about 30 pounds more. But despite the tough transition, Max noted that his son often trains on the bigger bikes and that he should be able to make the transition relatively easily.

“He’s big enough and strong enough to make the change,” he said. “Smaller riders are the ones that usually struggle with that.”

But for now, the focus has to remain on the present and continuing to build on the recent success Shane has enjoyed.

“I texted him the other day and told him to not get too excited about the win and keep his feet on the ground,” Max said.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still immensely proud of his son and all that he has been able to accomplish.

“Not bad for a redneck from Canton, I’d say.”