2015 will mark Shawn "Mad Dog" McConnell's 41st year in speedway motorcycle racing. The lifelong Brea, CA resident has raced mini-bikes and motocross but made a name for himself in speedway. Starting at the local Southern California tracks like Costa Mesa Speedway, IMS and Ascot he honed his skills before making the jump to England to race in the British leagues. His exciting riding style plus his easy going attitude has made him a fan favorite on both sides of the pond. McConnell has won some of the biggest races in the United States and has proven to be quite the abassador for the sport. Before his departure to England Shawn was one of the founding partners of Team Swolen. He continued to race upon his return to the states as well as mentoring young upcoming riders and helping revive Inland Motorcycle Speedway in San Bernardino CA. Shawn was also intregal in the transition of IMS into Pirate Speedway. With the closing of Pirate Speedway at the end of the 2014 season, Shawn will be able to dedicate more to his riding for the 2015 season.
Shawn McConnell by the numbers:
40 Years - racing speedway motorcycles
38 Bikes - the number of motorcycles Shawn owns
5 Countries - Shawn has raced in 5 different countries
4 U.S. Open championships - McConnell has won 4 of these
Speedway motorcycle racing is one of the original extreme sports. Races usually consist of 4 riders racing specially built bikes. In the United States there is also handicap racing which can have up to 8 riders. The bikes have a 500cc 2 stroke engine burning metanol that produces about 85 horsepower. This allows the bike to launch like a dragster. 0 to 60mph occurs in about 2.5 seconds. Top speed on shorter tracks is about 65 mph with speeds closer to 100mph happening on the longer tracks. The bikes have basically no suspension with only a little movement on the front fork. The biggest suprise for most people is the fact that the bikes have no brakes. Turning consists of kicking the backend out and sliding the bike sideways through the corner. Imagine four riders doing this only inches apart and you'll understand the popularity of the sport. Races in the United States are held on both coasts as well as in the midwest. The sport is popular in England, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic. Every year the World Speedway Grand Prix is held with races throughout Europe. Americans Bruce Penhall and Greg Hancock have won the title multiple times.