GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Tyler Shepardson

Tuesday Toolbox: Tyler Shepardson

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 | 3:05 PM
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 | 3:05 PM

Tyler Shepardson is a 24-year-old rider from Charlotte, North Carolina. He hasn’t been riding very long, but is already totally immersed in racing, especially the GNCC series. In addition to competing on his YZ 125cc in the 125 B/C class, Tyler has worked on the Racer TV crew and has since started up an off-road focused podcast with a fellow racer. Tyler is currently sidelined due to injury, so we won’t be seeing him at Ironman, but he hopes to be back in the early part of next season. 

Tyler Shepardson raced in the Open C (22+) class in 2016, finishing fourth in the class.
Tyler Shepardson raced in the Open C (22+) class in 2016, finishing fourth in the class. Courtesy Tyler Shepardson How did you get started racing? 
Tyler: Well, I’ve only been riding just over three and a half years now, so I was a bit late getting into the sport compared to most people. I grew up wrestling and have always been pretty competitive. My buddies were planning on racing Big Buck back in 2014, and for some reason I decided it would be a good idea to try it. That was my first race ever, and I’ve been full-blown obsessed with the sport ever since. 

What was that first GNCC like for you? 
That first race was pretty crazy! Since it was two hours long, a dead-engine start, with a bunch of people all racing at the same time and my first race, I didn’t know what to expect. I ran pretty good most of the day, until I came through a section of whoops covered in “spider roots”. My bike swapped, I went flying over the handlebars and I got the wind knocked out of me. Despite that and the fact that my hands pretty much turned into one giant blister, I was still hooked! And then my second race ever was Snowshoe …… I legit didn’t think I was ever going to make it out of the West Virginia woods! 

Have you primarily stuck with just racing in the GNCC series?
I’ve raced a handful of random moto races here and there, but my bike doesn’t like to fly (laughs). Other than that, this is my third season of the local Mid-East Hare Scrambles, and this would have been my second full season of the GNCCs if I hadn’t gotten hurt. 

What injuries are you dealing with?
I have a torn labrium from a practice crash at a local sandpit, and my shoulder hasn’t really been right since. Twenty-one dislocations later, here we are. I have a MRI and surgery lined up next month. On top of that, I’m dealing with some pain and loss of strength in my hand from my crash at Tomahawk. Hopefully I can push through all this and be back by next season. I know we get four drops, and I think I should be able to get back out there with my racing family in the GNCC Racin’ Nation! 

How did the Tomahawk crash happen?
It happened on the first lap. Randall Ervin and I had already put a good-size gap between the rest of the pack; we were trying to push hard. We came through a high-speed straight with a sweeper turn into the woods. My front wheel broke traction, and I went into an uncontrollable slide that ended when I hit a tree square-on. That crash broke a bone in my hand, another bone in my thumb, did some ligament damage and broke the collarbone on my “good” side too.

Tyer Shepardson finished inside the top 10 in the first four rounds of racing this season in the 125 B/C class..
Tyer Shepardson finished inside the top 10 in the first four rounds of racing this season in the 125 B/C class.. Courtesy Tyler Shepardson

I wish you a speedy recovery! Assuming you’re back to 100% by the beginning of next season, what are your plans?
I’m still up in the air. I may race the same class, because it allows me to take pictures of and cover the pro race. But I also have a bit of an itch to try my hand at the three-hour race. Plus with the new FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class and that shiny new 125cc I have sitting in the garage, that XC3 class seems tempting. I know I wouldn’t be in contention to win or anything, but man that would be a cool experience!

In addition to racing the GNCCs, you’ve worked for the series a bit too, haven’t you? 
Yep, I worked with Racer TV the first eight rounds this year. I did a little bit of everything, really. I helped set up the podium presentations and announced the UTV broadcasts. The first two rounds this year I got to announce the Pro Bike and Pro Quad races. It was a huge honor to get to announce alongside Jason Weigandt and Rodney Tomblin at round one! After that I switched over to filming, and shot from the finish line camera at every race – hey Thad [Duvall], sorry for the Camp Coker fuel shot (laughs). I think my favorite thing I did for GNCC though was being in charge of the On-Track Program school visits. It was awesome to get to speak in front of the kids with the riders at local schools before each round.

How did you get started with all of that, and why did you only do it for eight rounds? 
After Megawatt left last year, GNCC put in an ad to hire a new announcer. I was really torn and couldn’t make up my mind. Finally I sent in a resume and cover letter at the last possible second, just before midnight on the last day the application process was open. I got an interview with some of the people in charge, and even though I didn’t get the full announcing job, they brought me on for the all-around assistant role I described earlier. The problem came when I got hurt at Tomahawk. Not only was I pretty useless at the next round, since I couldn’t pull my weight with set-up and tear down because of my injury, I had left them a man short filming the Pro Bike race when I got hurt, which I felt absolutely terrible about! So we decided it would be best if I took a step back, especially since me racing and working was not everyone’s favorite idea in the first place. 

You’ve still been working a little on the media side of things though, right?
Like I said before, this sport is my passion and I wanted to stay involved, even though I was no longer able to work with Racer TV or even race, for that matter. So my buddy Devin Byrum and I started up On The Pipe Podcast. We both noticed that there is a ton of online media centered around moto and supercross, but not as much for off-road. Our goal is to help try and get more exposure for GNCC and other off-road racing. The podcast gives racers another platform to tell their stories and represent their sponsors, and gives fans another way to stay involved. You can listen to us on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or any other podcast app, downloads are free too! 

After suffering an injury at Tomahawk, Tyler hopes to be back racing the GNCC circuit next season. 
After suffering an injury at Tomahawk, Tyler hopes to be back racing the GNCC circuit next season.  Courtesy Tyler Shepardson

What are some of the interesting things you’ve done so far?
We’re only five episodes in, so we’re still just getting started. Actually our most interesting guest so far isn’t a woods guy at all. His name is John Basher. He worked as the lead editor of Motocross Action Magazine for 12 years and is the head FMX judge at the X Games. He is also the current communications manager for the JGR MX team, which is a lot of what we talked about. Some of his stories and the stuff he’s been involved in are just unreal. As far as off-road, we have a lot of really interesting content coming up soon. Damon Bradshaw is coming in sometime the next month to talk about his GasGas deal and his experiences racing GNCCs. We have a WXC racer coming in right after Ironman and multiple XC1, XC2 and XC3 racers scheduled for the off-season. It’s pretty exciting for sure! 

And who would you like to thank? 
I’d like to thank Armored Graphix, BUR Seatcovers, Capital Ford of Charlotte, Carolina Cycle Service, Dixie Fuel, Fuel Clothing, Scott Motorsports and my buddy Brandon Peterson for helping me get to the races!