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One fast Clay High dude

Randy Lefko
Sports Editor
Posted 12/31/69

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - One would not see Clay High senior Ryan Shoenfelt and think, world class athlete, but the Clay ROTC member is quite the contrary. "Not many people know what I do on most …

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One fast Clay High dude


GREEN COVE SPRINGS - One would not see Clay High senior Ryan Shoenfelt and think, world class athlete, but the Clay ROTC member is quite the contrary.

"Not many people know what I do on most weekends," said Shoenfelt, 16 with 17 years right around the corner. "It has been a passion for quite some time from when I used to ride a street bike on the tracks with friends when my friend Tommy Supparano told me I looked pretty good on the track. That's how it kind of started and I went a bought a 400 with my Papa Murphy money."
Shoenfelt, once geared up in his Ironman-looking safety suit and helmet to change his normal high school kid look, is a part of a SuperBike 400 SuperBike 300 motorcycle racing circuit; Pan American Superbike racing, that provides road race scenarios for fast-moving motorcycles.
"The Pan American Superbike circuit starts with the small bike 300s, the 400s that I compete in and the bigger 600 bikes meaning 300, 400, 600 cubic inches of engine," said Shoenfelt, who donned a Team Rhino shirt; rhino being his kid nickname for always crashing into things. "The top end speed is about 115 miles per hour on a Grand Prix type course about 2.5 to three miles around."
Shoenfelt, who is ranked fifth on the circuit, recently finished second at the Homestead Miami Speedway track; same as NASCAR cars use, finishing second by 50 points. The Pan American circuit is an eight-race series around the southeastern United States with the trio heading to New Orleans for the their next race.
"The races accrue points over the series that ranks the riders as the season progresses; much like NASCAR points," said Shoenfelt. "In the races, it's very fast, very close with some bumping with most races separated by less than seconds."
For Schoenfelt, his secret sauce is to "read" the track first, then execute accelerations at the right time.
"Just get on the gas, brake later and go," said Shoenfelt. "You want to keep both wheels on the ground unlike the videos people might see with wheels up. You lose some time with one wheel off the ground."
For Dale Shoenfelt, son Ryans' passion has lead to five motorcycles at up to $10,000 fully geared up with mom, Dianne, the cheerleader and fingernail chewer.
"One thing he is good at is taking calculated risks and not getting in dangerous situations," said Dianne Shoenfelt. "The objective is to finish the race and he hasn't had any mishaps except a mechanical failure."
The family interest in motorcycles may have transcended for Dale's early interest his renewed interest with his son.
"Dad started racing recently, adding to the budget," said Ryan Shoenfelt. "Sponsorships are not big at the level I'm at, but we hope soon."
The prize money, at the amateur level, is not prolific enough to make a living from it. Dad, a U.S. Army retiree, is working locally in I.T., and Mom is support with Ryan in starting a new job.
"The weekends have a two or three-day trip with practice runs, we check out the course, then race," said Ryan Shoenfelt. "The prize money right now is about enough to cover the entry fees to race."
Shoenfelt trains and workouts to keep himself able to hold on to the fast-moving projectile he sits on as well as deal with the heating element of the sports, but he admittedly thinks he was just built for the sport.
"We have a sitting pedal bike at home, but I somehow have the genetics that I can just hop on and go," said Shoenfelt. "At this stage, that works, but the future is bigger bikes, longer races and more bumping in races that will need some physical shape. This is my first year and I'm learning as I go."
Shoenfelt felt that his ability to "read" the track has been his primary edge in strategy.
"When I was young, the tracks I went to had markers before the turns to give the rider information on upcoming turns and I learned from that," said Shoenfelt. "When we got to race tracks, I may get a map, but you have to get on the track to see what's out there."
Shoenfelt's season runs from February through September with races upcoming in May in New Orleans, May 19 in South Carolina, June 17 in Georgia, July 1 in Alabama, August 5 in Homestead, August 26 in Georgia and the season finale in September 16 at the Talladega Gran Prix Raceway.