GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Andrew Matusek & Shelby Rolen

Tuesday Toolbox: Andrew Matusek & Shelby Rolen

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 | 6:15 PM
Tuesday, August 14, 2018 | 6:15 PM

There aren’t very many riders that can race both GNCC and motocross successfully – but these two can. Shelby Rolen and Andrew Matusek are two full-time GNCC racers who also raced at Loretta Lyn’s amateur nationals this year. Shelby races Women’s Pro Motocross (WMX) and the Women’s Pro class in the GNCC series (WXC), while Andrew raced the 30+ class at Loretta’s and Vet A at the GNCCs.

Andrew Matusek came to race the GNCC Series in 2003.
Andrew Matusek came to race the GNCC Series in 2003. Ken Hill

How did you finish at Loretta’s this year?

Andrew Matusek: This year I finished fourth overall in the 30+ class after 7-2-3 moto scores.

Shelby Rolen: I raced in the WMX round at the end of Loretta’s week (I’m no longer eligible to compete in the Women’s 12+ class at Loretta’s). I went 3-3 for a third place overall finish

And how had your GNCC season been going?

AM: The GNCC season has been a huge learning curve for me. The tracks are completely different now then when I used to race them years ago. However, I have won five out of the six races I’ve competed at so far, with one third place from Florida where I ran out of gas and had to push for a few minutes.

SR: It’s been up and down. I’ve made some strides in certain areas, such as making better line choices and being more confident in the difficult sections, but I still struggle with the pace of my first couple laps. I’m working every race to improve the areas I struggle in. This season I did land my first-ever GNCC WXC podium at the John Penton, which was really exciting! I’m looking forward to the last four rounds of the season.

Shelby Rolen earned third overall at the Loretta Lynn WMX round.
Shelby Rolen earned third overall at the Loretta Lynn WMX round. Ken Hill

Are you satisfied with these results?

AM: Yes I am satisfied with my results overall. As a racer I always want to go out and win in any discipline against whoever I’m lined up with. However, racing is racing, and I have done everything in my power to live up to my potential as a racer. So that is why I’m satisfied.

SR: I’m satisfied with the improvements I’ve been making in my riding, and with my first podium, but I would like to be inside the top-5 more often.

Which discipline is your favorite?

AM: If I had to choose a favorite discipline I would have to say MX because of the higher intensity of the races.

SR: While I love both, moto is definitely my favorite.

Do you come from a woods background or a moto background?

AM: I come from a moto background. As a child I learned my colors and numbers from watching the pro supercross and motocross races! When I was three years old I actually asked for Jeff Ward as my Christmas present (laughs).

SR: I come from a 100% moto background. My dad always wanted me to trail ride as a kid, bit I would never even give it a try.

Matusek has earned five Vet A wins thus far in the GNCC season.
Matusek has earned five Vet A wins thus far in the GNCC season. Ken Hill

Why did you decide to cross over and compete in the other type of racing?

AM: After a crash at Ponca on August 1st, 1998 when I was 11 years old, I was in a coma for four days. I was in the hospital for a month and had to re-learn everything: who my family was, my colors and numbers, everything I had learned in school. The doctors told me I would never race a dirtbike again, and my long-term goals after leaving the hospital were to ascend and descend stairs without assistance, and to be able to do multiplication and long division again. Fortunately, I mastered both of those things, and made a complete recovery. In 2003 I convinced my parents to let me race again, but this time we raced in the woods at the GNCC series. I crossed over to the woods as another avenue of being able to race competitively on a national level, my dream ever since I was a toddler. I retired from XC2 racing in 2009 after I lost my factory support, but now I’m back racing in Vet A!

SR: My first experience in woods racing was the Ironman GNCC in 2009. I had some friends who kept telling me how fun GNCCs were, so I finally gave one a try, And I had so much fun at that first one that afterwards I decided it was something I wanted to continue to do and pursue seriously.

What are some challenges you face training for both motocross and GNCC racing at the same time?

AM: I enjoy training for both at the same time; once you have the cardio base built so you can compete both in shorter races at high intensity and have the endurance to make it through the longer GNCC races, the only thing that varies is what I put more focus on actually riding during the weeks leading up to the event.

SR: It’s hard to find time to practice enough of either discipline – that’s the biggest challenge! A lot of times I think my results in the woods suffer due to the fact that I don’t get to ride much woods during the week. I think that’s especially problematic since I don’t come from a woods background to begin with. Another challenge is trying to balance the cardio. You need to do longer cardio for off-road versus the shorter sprint-style workouts for moto.

Rolen earned a podium finish at The John Penton GNCC in Ohio.
Rolen earned a podium finish at The John Penton GNCC in Ohio. Ken Hill

Do you have any advice for a GNCC rider who would like to give moto a try, or vice versa?

AM: Work on the fundamentals. It doesn’t matter that much woods to moto or moto to woods… your dirtbike does the same things in both disciplines, time after time. As long as we know what the bike is going to do before it does it, we can continue to attack the course and ride harder. Consistency + Control = Speed.

SR: If you’re trying to go from woods to moto I would say be patient with the jumping. For everyone I’ve ever tried to help transition into moto, jumping was always the biggest challenge. Their ground speed was awesome but getting them used to jumping was always difficult. For those going from moto to woods, I would say try to ride with as many experienced woods riders as you possibly can. Watch how they go about picking their lines. You would also need to learn to slow down and not go all out your first couple times, because trees don’t move! (laughs)

Matusek earned fourth overall at this year's AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship.
Matusek earned fourth overall at this year's AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Ken Hill

What are your goals for the rest of the season?

AM: I would like to wrap up the GNCC Vet 30+ A title and win some championships at Mini O’s later this year.

SR: For the last WMX rounds, my goal is to finish on the podium all three races in both motos, and I would love to get another overall win after finally getting my first one this year. For GNCC, the goal is to be in the top five at the last four rounds, and I would love to get on the podium again!

It was great talking with you guys! Who would you like to thank?

AM: God for keeping me safe and letting me pursue my passion, my mom and Dad, Todd and Aaron at Fox, Joel and Kyle at FMF, Chris Wheeler and Tim Castrone at Suzuki, Chris at Roost MX, Paul Perbijnos at Pro Taper, Mike Sauer at Cometic,  Al Pizzino at Wiseco, Mark at Twin Air and MotoMaster, Jeff Hill at Hill Suspension, Brent at Carbsport, Maxxis, Rob Hinson at Hinson and Justin Monsrud at Team Rehabilitation for keeping my body working well.

SR: First and foremost, thanks to my mom, dad and little brother for everything they have sacrificed so that I could follow my dreams, and my friends who are very supportive as well. Thanks to SOB MX, Ryan, Matt, Freddie, Mike and everyone there who makes my training possible because without them none of this would be possible. I also want to thank my sponsors: Suzuki, RM Army, Iron Pony Motorsports, Fox, Leatt, 100%, Asterisks, FMF, Dunlop, Wiseco, Pro X, Cometic, Rekluse, Maxima, FiveSixO graphics, Cycra, No Toil, Emig grips, Works Connection, Tamer Holeshots, Motool, Thrill Seekers Collection, Zilla Grip Tape, Way Up Apparel Company and MX Tire.