In the midst of feeding calves, milking cows and vaccinations, a racer was created. Shelina Moreda is a fifth generation dairy farmer from Petaluma with a passion for professional motorcycle racing. No goal is too out of reach for Shelina and her unstoppable determination has made history. She is the first female to have raced a motorcycle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While she continues to push boundaries in the racing world, Shelina stays true to herself and her roots.
“We grew up riding quads to bring in cows and do ranch chores. My dad never knew what he was starting. That developed my love of motorcycles because you feel this freedom when you’re on a motorcycle; even when you’re just going to bring the cows in,” Shelina said.
At first, Shelina met some resistance from her family when she shared her dreams of becoming a professional racer. “Growing up on a ranch having a crazy dream like being a professional athlete is out of the ordinary. It’s not condoned. You’re supposed to grow up and work on the ranch or follow a normal career path. But both my parents also taught me that I could do anything in the world that I wanted to do,” she said.
Shelina wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of the dreams she’s had since age 12. So without the full support of her family but instilled with the values they taught her, she built up the confidence to get her racing license at 23. Receiving her license was followed by testing her bike, and her third time at the track was for a race. Shelina was determined to become a professional racer despite her inexperience when compared to her competitors.
“I thought for sure I could do it and I dove into the deep end. I started racing and realized it was a lot harder than I thought. Those guys had been racing on tracks since they were 10 years old. They had a lot of years on me. I struggled at first, but by the end of my novice year I took third place in the women’s championship in our region,” Shelina said.
Shelina’s can-do mentality and strong work ethic earned her professional status a year and a half after she started racing. Just one month beyond becoming a pro she received her expert license, which is completely unheard of, Shelina said. She firmly believes her athleticism is complemented by her upbringing, which is a great influence on her success.
“Every way that I was raised has helped me to develop into a strong racer and to be able to do the business end of things, not just twist the throttle. I didn’t realize how much work went into racing. You have to work your butt off to get sponsorships, partner with companies, get yourself known by the media and be able to speak in public. I credit growing up on the ranch for my knowledge about business, my work ethic, my values and being so grounded,” Shelina said.
Shelina’s business sense comes from direct involvement in the family dairy. Her father Donny transitioned Shelina and her siblings, Travis and Stephanie, from outside chores to paperwork and payroll as they got older. With a degree from Santa Rosa Junior College in Agriculture Business and a real estate license in addition to her racing one, Shelina is fully equipped to manage her racing career and stay involved with the growing family business when she is on the road.
A business background and public speaking training from the California Dairy Princess Program has served Shelina well as she gathers big-name sponsors to support her racing career. As with most aspects of her career, it has taken her tenacity and drive to gain promotion from title sponsors like GoPro and Vance & Hines. Also in keeping with the tendency of her career, it all started in her backyard.
“It was a grassroots effort at first. One of my first big sponsors was Wallaby Yogurt Company. That’s who we ship our milk to. They heard that I was racing and they wanted to step up and help out. For me being born and raised in agriculture, that’s something that is close to my heart, so I like to be able to promote the dairy industry when I’m racing,” Shelina said.
Shelina’s enthusiasm caught the attention of international sponsors as well. In her second year of racing she was asked to race an electric motorcycle for the CRP Group out of Modena, Italy. With the support of CRP she became the first female to race a motorcycle at the international level. That led to opportunities with racing teams in Japan, Spain and Qatar. In Qatar, Shelina represents the United States on a team of five women from around the world.
Shelina is humbled by these incredible milestones and acknowledges that her career is still evolving. “Everybody is always asking about my goals. My goals are always changing and always set too high. I’ve always been a big dreamer and I’m always reaching for something further than anyone thinks is attainable. But I’m crazy enough to think that I can accomplish it,” she said. “I’m always working for the next thing. I’m not going to feel like I’m successful until I’m as big as Amelia Earhart.”
One of Shelina’s current goals is to grow her Girlz MotoCamps. The racing camps give young women personalized coaching from professional female motorcyclists while building their confidence, skill level and network. Shelina has held camps locally and she is also focused on mentoring young women on a national scale.
“I have a passion for lighting the spark in people. I saw that people wanted to learn how to do what I’m doing. I think there is a real lack of ways, for females especially, to get involved in things like that. I decided that I was going to develop a stepping stone for people to get into riding and racing,” she said.
Shelina would also like to incorporate her dairy farming background into the camps and use them as a way to teach people about agriculture. She encourages the girls to have a balanced diet by supplying milk, yogurt and cheese as easy protein to fuel their racing.
“Everyone is interested in agriculture but city people don’t have a vehicle to get good information. For me to have some kind of crossover between agriculture and city, which is motorcycles, I have a huge opportunity to teach people. I would love to push my agricultural agenda there,” Shelina said.
In addition to promoting agriculture through her racing career, Shelina has also used her business, She’z Racing, as an avenue to get involved in the community. She recruited a group of athletic women from Sonoma County to work with charity events like the Wine for Wheels Golf Tournament and the RIP City Riders Chilly Billy Memorial Run. She’z Racing was also the platform that Shelina started the racing camps from. “The whole idea of She’z Racing is to bring something to females who are not only active in motorcycling but with different sports in general. It’s to really push females to do something bigger,” Shelina said.
There is no limit to what Shelina can accomplish and any adversity she may face is just a bump in the road on the path to greater things. “When people from Sonoma County come up to me and say that I’m making Petaluma proud or making a name for Sonoma County, that is huge to me. It’s an incredible feeling knowing that I’m in the history books and it’s something that no one will ever be able to take away from me. I feel like I have to make everybody that gave me that opportunity proud. I feel like I have a lot riding on my shoulders because of it, but I’m proud to be in that position,” she said.