Interview with Shelly "Scooby Snacks" Kann
11/25/98 - Debbie Matthews

DMSports-
Congratulations on your very successful season in 1998.  Could you give a quick recap?

SHELLY-
Thank you.  In 1998 I earned the number one plate at the Ladies International Cup and the AMA Amateur National Championships and finished out the year with fourth in the WML/AMA National Championship Series. 

DMSports-
First question is obviously, How did you do it ? 

SHELLY-
Actually this year I settled down and just decided that I wanted to do it.  I just put in all my heart and desire and I went for it and I did it. 

DMSports
Who or what do you credit your success to? 

SHELLY
Mostly my parents for supporting me all these years, Frank Gallo for letting me train with him and Pro Action for being there for me and supporting me through everything. 

DMSports
A lot of people don't seem to realize that you have been a part of the WML since almost the beginning.  Can you tell us a little about that ? 

SHELLY-
My first experience with the WML was during the 1995 Stadiumcross Series that Debbie Matthews organized with Mickey Thompson Entertainment.  We raced Supercross and Ultracross.  That was a good experience.  It worked out really well for the women and it just seems that from there we have progressed more and more.  I like the direction that it is going in and it seems to be working out really good. 

DMSports
You're racing career is filled with a lot of firsts.  You were the 1995 WML Stadiumcross Champion, the 1996 WML/AMA Outdoor National  MX Champion and became the first female competitor recognized at the AMA Pro Awards banquet that same year for your WML/AMA National title.  How do you do this ? 

SHELLY
I guess I just have the need for speed.  I live to race and race to live.  I just really like to ride.  Sometimes I just think I am at the right place at the right time. 

DMSports
What motivates you to be the best ? 

SHELLY
I'd have to say myself motivates me, but there are other factors that help me like I don't like to lose.  It's a combination of many things. My dad helped me through the years, with "You can do it." "You can do anything you want to do just as long as you put your mind to it." 

DMSports
Do you feel that women are beginning to get into the spotlight a little bit more in the industry ? 

SHELLY
Yes, I do.  I feel that a lot of the top women are getting recognized.  You can say one of the top women's names to a lot of the people and they respond with, "Yeah, I remember I saw her at one of the National races like Unadilla during the series."  It just seems like the word is spreading and it's looking good. 

DMSports
What are the pressures or responsibilities and demands of being one of the most recognized female athlete figures in the sport? 

SHELLY
Mainly just keeping your mind straight.  Don't do anything crazy, or make a bad scene for yourself.  Keep a level head and keep in touch with the people that you want to keep in touch with. 

DMSports
What about being a role model ?  Are the women riders now in a position of being role models ? And how and why is that important ? 

SHELLY
A lot of the mom's love the women riders.  They look up to them.  Even the little girls They look up to us too.  I think our responsibility is to talk to them tell them if they want to get out there and ride, tell them they can do it.  Sure, they're not going to be as fast as us right away, but we all practiced and we all got better.  Everyone else can too ! 

DMSports
Is your example as a rider important to those that are watching, be it sponsors, spectators, or potential women riders ? 

SHELLY
Yes, of course !  When I pick a role model, I stick with them.  Someone will pick a role model such as one of the women racers and stick with us, follow us and get more people to follow us.  You more or less do it yourself, but you must be able to stand up to the role model status. 

DMSports
What do you define the role model status as being ? 

SHELLY
To be friendly and easy to talk to.  To get along with other riders, have good sportsmanlike conduct, and get along with and be accessible to the fans.  

DMSports
In a sport that has been slow to recognize and embrace it's female champions and riders, what has kept you going all these years ? 

SHELLY
The desire to race, the desire to win, desire to just keep going.  It's all heart and desire. 

DMSports
Do you see the sport growing ? 

SHELLY
Yes, I do.  Since 1995, and that's only been a couple of years.  I've seen a lot more women come out and the women are riding a lot faster.  There is more competition, and it's growing quickly.  I like how it looks. 

DMSports
What is your role in that growth ? 

SHELLY
I think it is important that we keep our audience (the fans) happy with good competition and good races and that we have fun. 

DMSports
What legacy would you like to pass on to future riders ? 

SHELLY
Attitude.. The importance of having a good attitude, being sportsmanlike and friendly.  Also it's important to be there for the other riders.  Right now there is not as many women as there are men riders, so we need to stick together.  It will all work out eventually.  Maybe someday when I have a kid ( a girl) and she goes out there and she races we are paving the way for them.  

DMSports
We sometimes see ourselves as being out there with the machetes hacking out a trail . Because there has never been a trail that existed before.  

SHELLY
That's right. 

DMSports
How did you get started ? 

SHELLY
I was 3 or 4 years old.  I was very young.  I got my first dirt bike in the winter.  The first thing I did was get on that thing and run right into a snow bank ! (laughs)  I still have the pictures with my head sticking right into the snow bank. 

DMSports
It would be really fun to have access to those pictures. we could always put it up on the website. 

SHELLY
That would be really great. 

DMSports
Word is that you are attending school.  What is your course of study ? 

SHELLY
(Pause) I'm not attending school. 

DMSports
Oh, you're not attending school. 

SHELLY
(Laughs)  No, not yet 

DMSports
Oh, it's a fib.  Good rumor to start.  (laughs)  (Note-As of 2000-Shelly is attending school to have a career in Radio)

DMSports
Is it important for women to pursue their racing as well as their school ? 

SHELLY
For me, I made the choice to race.  I knew that if I made the choice to go to school and race that I could only do each half way.  Since I wanted to race, I decided to hold off school, since there is no rush right now for me.  As long as I still feel like I want to race, I might as well do it because I'm not going to have that feeling all my life.  I can go back to school, but I need to take advantage of the opportunities that I have today. 

DMSports
How do you keep it in balance, I know you are working.  with work, racing and training ? 

SHELLY
This summer all I did was work and train and ride.  Nobody else saw me except for the guy that I train with and a few other friends.  That's when you know that you want it. When that's all that you do.  That's the way I feel.  I don't think there is any way to juggle it around, other than just doing it.  You don't juggle it around.  If you focus, it will all fall into place.  If you try to incorporate anything else into your program it gets out of control.  

DMSports
Yes, you start making trade offs which affect reaching your ultimate goal. 

SHELLY
Exactly ! 

DMSports
What is the biggest lesson that racing has taught you ? (Besides running headfirst into snow banks) 

SHELLY
(Laughs)  Ambition. Aggressiveness .  Knowing that if you want something, you go after it and you get it.  To go after it with all your heart.     

DMSports
What is the most important lesson for a rider to learn ? 

SHELLY
The lesson of finding yourself.  When you realize that you are your own person .  That there are not a lot of girls that race  and you know that you are one of the few.  and  you realize that you are just there by yourself to race and have fun.    

DMSports
You are saying that you do it for you.  To have fun at it regardless of what anyone else says or thinks. 

SHELLY
Yes, exactly. That's exactly what I was trying to say 

DMSports
Lets talk about sponsorship for riders. Any advice  on how to get and keep sponsors ? 

SHELLY
The best way that ever worked for me is to go up and talk to them.  Sure, they are busy sometimes, but you can go up and introduce yourself to them and tell them a little about yourself and find out if they can do anything for you.  Don't just go up and ask for something, but see what they have for programs.  Send out resumes... You have to get your name out there. 

DMSports
You are talking about building a relationship with them. 

SHELLY
Exactly.  They need to know that you are there and for you to know that they are there.  

DMSports
It's definitely a two way street.  That's one of the biggest things a rider has to learn.  It's not just what they can give you, but what you can give back to them as a rider. 

DMSports
Who was the biggest influence in your racing ? 

SHELLY
I'd have to say my parents.  Definitely !  They brought me everywhere !  I raced from six years old to now. Racing almost every weekend during the summer.  Obviously, I didn't race during the winter.because it's snowing. 

DMSports
You didn't want to run into any more snow banks. 

SHELLY
(laughs)  No, but. They would bring me to races.  I have been to Loretta Lynn's for 13 years . They brought me there every year.  My dad always told me "You can do it.  If you want to do it Shell, ya gotta do it. "  More or less he just kinda let me do it by myself this past year, because he wasn't with me because I was in Pennsylvania.  He kinda left me alone and I ended up doing it myself.  Which is what he always told me "If you want to do it, you have to do it yourself, nobody else can do it for you. " 

DMSports
I have spoken to your dad recently, and he is very, very proud of you.  How did they help and inspire you ?  Why do you think they made the difference for you to help you become a champion ? 

SHELLY
What it is for one, is that they like to go to the races.  They support me all the way.  Sure, I've had bad races, but it's not like what did you do ?  They just know that maybe it just wasn't my day.  Other days when I have good days, it's good job.  They are always with me no matter what happens.  I just feel really good to know that they will always be there for me whatever happens.  

DMSports
You are from Minnesota.  You knew Donny Schmidt ? 

SHELLY
Yes, I did.  

DMSports
How did he affect your life and career ? 

SHELLY
Everyone called him Peanut in Minnesota.  When he raced in Minnesota he would just annihilate the 125 and 250cc A classes before he went Pro.  I was little at the time.  The first time I mainly met him face to face was at a banquet in Minnesota for district 23.  I was fooling around and I asked him to dance.  That's when we started talking.  He always wanted to help me and said whenever I needed help he would be glad to help.  He's a pretty busy man He helped me more than he thought he did.  Every time I saw him he would always give me good words of encouragement, and I went to a few of his schools.  He always used me as an example.  I always felt really proud just to be a part of  what he had to say because every one knows he is a legend.  

DMSports
Did you ever get to ride his famous Snow Supercross track ? 

SHELLY
No, actually not. I wish 

DMSports
Sounds like you could use a little experience racing in the snow. 

SHELLY
Yeah, those snow banks really jump out at ya. 

DMSports
What do you think about when you are racing ? 

SHELLY
Well, this last year I was pretty focused on what I had to do.  When I got out there I was pretty intense.  

DMSports
I can vouch for that.  This year I got to really watch and I learned a lot watching about your mentality and in essence kinda what goes on in your head.  If you ride long enough you can look at a rider and almost tell what is going on in their head just by their body language and how they attack the track.  

DMSports
What's your biggest complaint about racing ? 

SHELLY
Wow, I have to be honest with you, I don't see why I would have any.  Racing has given me nothing but good as far as life lessons.  I don't have any complaints.  I just like to race. 

DMSports
How do you stay so relaxed at the races ? 

SHELLY
(laughs)  oh, I'm glad I looked relaxed.  Honestly, all in all I'm pretty relaxed compared to some of the girls.  When I get on the starting line, I think in my head that this is what you came here for. Actually, I'm pretty nervous, but still all my years of experience being at big races almost all my life pays off.  I have experience.  I don't get as nervous.  I know what I have to do and I just go out and do it. 

DMSports
I'm going to give you some words, which have been given to describe you , based on what people see at the races. Intense, fun, crazy, moody, driven, cool. Are they accurate and would you like to add anything ? 

SHELLY
I like crazy.  Crazy is good.  That pretty much says it.  Moody I noticed right away.  I have to admit, I probably am a little at the races when I'm tuned into the races.  I try not to let that stuff get the best of me and a lot of times I can shake it off right away, but sometimes it gets the best of me. 

DMSports
You missed the Washougal National, which in reality probably cost you the 98 WML National Championship title.  Why did you miss the National and was it worth it ? 

SHELLY
In the whole outlook of everything, no, it wasn't worth it.  But, yes it was..  It wasn't worth it , but a big goal of mine was to win Loretta's, and when I found out how much the plane ticket would be to get from Pennsylvania  to Washougal to Tennessee to Pennsylvania, It was a little over my budget and I had to make a choice.  It's one of those things.  You win some, you lose some.  

DMSports
Those races are very close, they are literally just a few days apart.  It has to be very tough to make both.  You still ended up with a 4th in the National Series, narrowly missing the top 3.  What are your plans for 99, since it looks like the schedule is going to be very similar ?  Does it look like your support may be increasing a little bit to where you might be able to make both, or are you going to take it as it comes ? 

SHELLY
It's looking better as far as my support, that they will help me get to all the events.  But also, I've always played it as it comes.  That's kinda my style.  

DMSports
What do you think of the venues for the nationals ? 

SHELLY
I like the places that we go.  I think that they help us out as far as letting us race on a National track.  It's really not that easy of an accomplishment to have us race out there.  I appreciate them letting us come out there and I love the track. 

DMSports
You understand that, because your dad is a promoter.  It's a little bit of a different perspective from that of a rider.  As a rider you look at it as why can't they do it, but from a promoter's standpoint, when you are trying to get 1800 riders through a course in a day or two it is a challenge. 

SHELLY
For sure !  

DMSports
What do you think of the women's purses at the events ? 

SHELLY
 Honestly, I enjoy them.  Of course I like the money, everyone does.  I don't complain about the money one bit, especially if I win.  Who would ?  

DMSports
They are still small.  

SHELLY
Yes, you can say small, but there are different types of small.  They are small obviously compared to the guys, but we are not quite to that status yet.  That is what we are working toward. 

DMSports
A few years ago purses for women didn't even exist.  As an organization, this is one of our concerns to get the purse money up to cover at least some of the traveling expenses to follow the circuit But the flip side is it is a fairly new program and it takes time to get them where we feel they need to be. 

SHELLY
Exactly.   I think the purses are good, and will get better as the series grows. 

DMSports
Women's racing seems to be getting bigger and bigger.  Why do you see it growing  as opposed to years past ? 

SHELLY
I think the word is out.  A lot of girls are talking to other girls that race or seeing it on TV.  Or they go to a race with their boyfriend and they like it and they end up getting a bike or riding a friends for a little bit to see if they like it and they do.  Everybody is interested and everyone is having fun at it. 

DMSports
The Women's events have had several different winners for the last two years running.  How come one rider isn't dominating as in years past ? 

SHELLY
Honestly, I kinda like that.  That's pretty cool.  It keeps the points close, the suspense up.  You just can't get on the starting line and say " I got this race made."  You know you have to be focused.  You know there're other girls ready to beat you and it's pretty cool.  It's a good thing. 

DMSports
Why doesn't any one rider dominate ? 

SHELLY
(laughs) I don't know !   I could be because of the different style of the tracks, they are not in their hometown,  and there are a lot of different factors that go into it. 

DMSports
By going to different places you are going to bring in new and different riders and new skill sets that are going to elevate the racing and again you have created that excitement  of I want to do this and I want to see how I rank.  We are taking the races to the women as opposed to having the women go to the races. 

DMSports
Any sponsors you would like to thank ? 

SHELLY
Of course !  Pro Action, Yamaha, Scott Goggles, Racer X for the awesome article, Wiseco, Cometic gaskets, Fox racing, FMF, Pirelli. I don't want to forget anyone  A special thanks to my mom and dad and Frank Gallo for letting me train with him and keeping me focused.  My brother The WML and DM Sports for having series events and making it more available to women.  Everyone ! 

DMSports
What is you favorite National track ? 

SHELLY
Wow, You are putting me on the spot !  I like them all !  They are all very cool !  You can't  complain.  You get to race on a National caliber track.  I like the way they are prepped.  But if I have to choose. I'd have to say Binghamton. (NY).  It's a fun track. 

DMSports
That was a brand new track this year for us.  And a good one for you.  A Binghamton you wrapped up the Ladies International crown and narrowly missed the win in the final national of the year ! 

DMSports
How do you train ? 

SHELLY
Let me count the ways   (laughs)  This summer I worked really hard.  Mainly I worked with Frank.  The guy that helped me trainGod bless him.   He's the man, the myth, and the legend.  He had me hit the heavy bag 3 minutes on 2 minutes off and then we would run 2-5 miles any day that I wasn't riding, and sometimes, we would go riding and come home and run a couple of miles.  Not once did I ever complain.  That was weird to me.  But you know, that 's when you know that you really want it.  I just went out and I did it.  Whatever he told me to do I did it.  It was pretty intense.  I was pretty pumped because I felt good this year. 

DMSports
There was a definite difference this year watching.  You're whole demeanor on and off the track.  As well as the obvious physical differences you could tell before you ever swung a leg over a motorcycle that you had been training. 

SHELLY
I even felt it.  I can get on the starting line and feel good.  All right ! I'm ready !  It helped so much with my confidence.  I know that I can go to the line and I  am ready to race.  That's the one thing that I think that a lot of the girls don't realize yet.  They haven't hit the spot where it snaps for them.  Once they do, and once they feel confident Wow !  It's gonna make all the difference in the world.  

DMSports
You obviously feel your training has helped.  Do you feel training is important for Amateur riders ? 

SHELLY
Yes.  I told my brother He believes me, he knows You train, you run, you do whatever suits your needs as far as training.  It's not going to be the same for everyone.  You go and train !  And when you get on that track on race day especially, you just feel so much better.  You can sit on that line and know. You will do better.  Your mind plays a big part in how you do in these races. 

DMSports
Training also plays a big part in your concentration during a race, as well as you are less prone to get injured. 

SHELLY
Exactly.  Those are good factors to consider.   

DMSports
Last question.  What do you think about the training opportunities opening for women riders ?  

SHELLY
OOOHHHH  !   It's great ! I'm there !! (laughter)    The availability for women for an advanced course for them to be with other girls and train and not have to be with the guys at the school is going to help them.  Their confidence level will increase.  It will be a big moral booster going into the remaining events.     Just a few days with  isn't gonna do them wonders, but as they assimilate and apply what they have learned, it will pave the way for them to learn what they need to know to go faster. 

DMSports
Any final thoughts. 

SHELLY
Live to race, and race to live.