The career trajectory of most professional motocross racers is like that of an asteroid moving through space—unassuming, hard to locate with the naked eye and only vaguely memorable. However, asteroids can burn bright when passing through the earth’s atmosphere. And so it goes with many racers’ success, which is best measured by the impact they make. Only the very best become Red Supergiants—the largest stars in the galaxy—because motocross is a sport dominated by a select few.
There are those racers who fall somewhere in between—the sun-like stars, if you will. They are fast enough to compete at the highest level for a long time, but not quite capable of winning titles. Granted, the pinnacle for many is winning a professional race, because finishing first is not easily achieved.
New York’s Scott Sheak is among the fortunate of winning an AMA Pro NationaL. Sheak’s one and only win, on May 25, 1997, doesn’t tell the whole story. Scott’s path to the top step of the podium is right out of a dream.
Sheak, a native of Germantown, New York, had shown flashes of brilliance in 1996 aboard a privateer Suzuki. In fact, Scott Sheak won his first 125 National moto at High Point in 1996, the same track where he would later win his sole National overall. Solid finishes in the 125 East Supercross class, along with two 125 podiums outdoors, caught the attention of factory Honda. They signed Scott to a two-year deal. He would be teaming up with two-time 125cc National Champion Steve Lamson. The future looked bright for Scott Sheak.
The increased support and a factory Honda CR125 did wonders for Sheak. He was consistently a top-five threat, and he began the National series with 6-2-3 overall finishes. It was only a matter of time before Scott would log his first career overall. Little did anyone know that Scott Sheak’s finest riding would be shown between April 12, 1997, and May 25 of that same year. During that time he finished fourth, second, third, fifth, and then took the win at High Point.
Growing up in New York, Sheak was familiar with riding in the mud. The High Point National in 1997 was a deluge. Corners collected rain, and the elevation changes made it nearly impossible for most of the racers to navigate the terrain. Even Ricky Carmichael, who had three straight outdoor wins heading into High Point, had a miserable day. Carmichael could only manage 13th overall in the mud, his worst finish during a celebrated 125 career.
However, the inclement weather didn’t stop Scott Sheak from blasting to good starts and going 1-1 on the day. He bested the likes of Stephane Roncada, Michael Brandes, Mickael Pichon, Kevin Windham, Tim Ferry, Damon Huffman, and, of course, the aforementioned Ricky Carmichael.
The 1997 High Point National was the pinnacle of Scott Sheak’s career. He would go on to finish third overall in the final points standings behind Carmichael and Windham. It was a career year that he would never duplicate. From there Scott bounced around to several other teams, finally calling it quits in 2002.
Note: Scott Sheak passed away at 47 years old on May 18th, 2021. Sheak had a bad crash at a local motocross track and suffered multiple spinal and internal injuries that led to his death. He was training to race the Vet class at Loretta Lynn’s.