GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Luke Shepherd

Tuesday Toolbox: Luke Shepherd

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | 10:15 AM
Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | 10:15 AM

At High Voltage, Luke Shepherd was able to win his first-ever Amateur Overall. The 28-year-old ATV racer from Marion, Ohio, has overcome a lot to get to this point. A devastating injury while racing motocross temporarily derailed his career, and this season hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park for him either. However, refusing to give up and having a great support crew has made all the difference. Things are definitely looking up for Shepherd!

Luke Shepherd leads the points standings in the Junior A (22+) ATV class.
Luke Shepherd leads the points standings in the Junior A (22+) ATV class. Ken Hill

Congrats on earning your first-ever amateur overall award! Can you tell us about it?

Yes! It is my first time on the overall podium at all, actually. This is the first year I’ve ever really had everything together enough to be able to win it. It still took a lot to get there though. At round one in Florida I had it won, but then passed out from heat exhaustion with only a few miles to go. (Shout-out to Jared McClure for getting me back on the quad and making sure that I was okay!) After that I still dealt with a lot, but overcoming that stuff is part of racing, whether it’s other racers, mechanical issues So, it became that one thing where you want it really bad but then things just keep happening to keep you from getting it. Like one thing after another. But at High Voltage I put it all together.

What do you think allowed you to finally make it happen?

A good start, smooth riding, solid decisions and a well-built machine got us there! The other thing too is that when you have problems you can’t make excuses; you have to fix the problem or find someone else who can help you fix it. Then you meet your goals and move on to the next one.

And how does that feel?

Honestly, I don’t think it’s really sank in yet – I’m kind of blocking out all the emotion and accomplishments we’ve already had so I can keep my routine and stay driven. I feel good right now on and off the quad and want to keep it going.

Since you do have that monkey off your back now, do you have any further goals for the rest of your season?

Well, to win of course. My class, another amateur overall, the championship, whatever I can. Heck, if there’s a race to the race I wanna win that too! (laughs)

Shepherd stood atop the amateur overall podium at the High Voltage GNCC.
Shepherd stood atop the amateur overall podium at the High Voltage GNCC. KB

You mentioned earlier in previous years you didn’t really have things together enough to be competitive for a podium spot… Were you just not up to speed yet or was there other stuff involved?

Mostly it was trying to come back from my injuries from my big crash at Unadilla. That first year I came back I was so timid and out-of-shape that I was barely a mid-pack A rider. Now I have the speed and conditioning to run up front again, which is awesome!

Backing up a bit here, tell us about how you got started riding and racing.

As a little kid, I rode dirt bikes until I was 11 or 12. My dad raced ATVs professionally until about ’98, so we actually had a national caliber moto track in our backyard while I was growing up! I ended up quitting for awhile because of school sports and I was tired of getting hurt. It’s kind of a funny story, but shortly after I graduated high school my buddy Zach Lanthrop and I went to Cedar Point and he made me ride all the roller coasters. Now, I was terrified of them and didn’t really want to, but I ended up having a blast and it kind of reminded me of how much fun I used to have riding. I decided I would give racing and racing another shot. My dad had a spare quad sitting in our shop, ad I took it to a local race and ended up winning the race. That’s when the addiction began (laughs). From 2011 to 2014 I raced ATV motocross and in 2015 I switched full time to GNCC and have been doing that ever since.

Why did you switch over to GNCC racing from moto?

Well, I actually chased both GNCCs and ATV Motocross for awhile. But then when I had that bad crash at Unadilla I was telling you about, I started side-by-side racing, and GNCC was the only place you could race them at the time, so that’s where I went. After I got picked up by SBR I got started on ATVs again at the GNCCs and now here we are.

Since you’ve mentioned that crash a couple times now, I’m gonna go ahead and ask what all you injured, if you don’t mind telling us.

I broke a shoulder blade, my spleen and some brain stuff. The brain problem is what set me back. I wasn’t the smartest guy before the crash but after it I was even worse (laughs). Honestly it just messed with my confidence and everyday life. Before I had always been a really outspoken and outgoing guy, and the part of my brain that got messed up is involved with emotion and stuff. I had like no drive and no reason to do anything. When a year went by and I wasn’t any better, I really started focusing on myself and figuring what I needed to do to put the pieces back together. It was really hard to overcome but I think I’m finally myself again.

What advice would you give to anyone who is coming back from injury or even just dealing with a run of bad luck or setbacks the way you were earlier this season?

Just set a goal, stick with it and let nothing stop you from reaching it. And surround yourself with people who have the same goals and want them just as bad!

Shepherd has been working hard to come back strong this year, and earn the Jr. A class championship.
Shepherd has been working hard to come back strong this year, and earn the Jr. A class championship. Ken Hill

Funny you should mention surrounding yourself with people who share your goals – I recently interviewed your wife, Megan, a GNCC racer herself. She mentioned that the two of you met through racing?

Ah, my beautiful wife! We met through racing. I went down to Texas to train with her day, Dee Manshack at Rage ATV, and of course met Megan while I was there. We became really good friends over time. Eventually we started dating, and when she won her championship at Loretta’s, I proposed with the help of my buddy Rodney Tomblin. She said yes, and we got married in December of 2015.

Besides having shared goals, does having a partner who is also a top level racer help you out as far as training goes?

Not so much as far as training goes, because we both kind of do our own thing and honestly don’t talk about it much. We’ve both been at this long enough to know what we each have to do and what works for us individually. But as far as racing itself goes, yes, it’s a huge help. First, since she races before I do, she comes back after the morning race and tells me about how the track is holding up, and based on that info I can have the guys adjust my set-up for it. We are also each other’s biggest fans, though Megan’s mom might fight me for that honor (laughs). We support each other and push each other so hard to be the best we can possibly be, at racing and everything else too. A big reason for my success this year is her.

Is there anything I didn’t ask about but you would like to mention?

I guess I should probably take a minute to plug my company a little (laughs). I own LS4, which makes cosmetic parts and heat shields. We’re a racer-based company, with all our parts made here in the USA! The website is

Shepherd has earned three class wins thus far in the 2019 season.
Shepherd has earned three class wins thus far in the 2019 season. Ken Hill

I didn’t realize you ran LS4! How did you get started with that?

We started up about two years ago. I was farming with my family at the time but kind of wanted to go out on my own. This company came up for sale and I made the decision to buy it in about two hours. (laughs) It was really just meant to be a side gig but it took off quick. I’ve been able to grow the company each year and it’s really cool to see our parts at the races. I even have fellow competitors running my stuff now which is awesome! I love our sport so to have a business in it is amazing. My favorite part of the job is developing new parts and trying to come up with useful stuff that hasn’t been thought up yet.

And who would you like to thank?

First, a huge shout-out to Stewart Boys Racing and the Stewart family for everything they do for me. I would like to thank all the people who have helped me and continue to help me, plus the rest of my sponsors: DeRisi, Action Offroad, Action Tire, LS4, Gold Speed, Tire Spine, Fly, Rage ATV, SSI Decals, All Balls Fox, Houser, Rekluse, Rath, Honda East, HMF, Carbsport, IMS, Fast Company and Works Connection.