Title: Sean Kelly aiming for success as a talented American rider in the Red Bull Rookies Cup

Author: Myanna Wedes

Sean Kelly is attending the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona-Catalunya and constantly thinking about racing as he watches the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 classes practice, qualify and race hard. Sean was born on 17th May 2002 in Hollywood, Florida, USA and has made a recent move to Spain in order to dedicate himself completely to the sport of two-wheel racing. Kelly knows how competitive the sport is and wants to work harder than ever to achieve his goals and dreams. We caught up trackside with Sean to discuss his career, the future and what he and his family have scarified to be able to continue to race in the Red Bull Rookies Cup.

Question: When did you start racing?

Sean Kelly: I started racing when I was six. I rode a motorcycle for the first time when I was five and actually wanted to do go-karting at first but then I went to a track in Miami called Opa-Locka in Florida and things changed. Miami does not have much and karts were closed although they had little motorcycles in front and they asked me if I wanted to ride and at five, of course I said yes! It started from there. I never tried a go-kart until I was like eight. I was born liking cars, trucks, wheels… really anything. Bikes it was.

Question: In terms of the passion and getting on two wheels… what was your first experience like?

Sean Kelly: Well I was five so I can not really say much but I do specifically remember my parents asking me right after if I liked it and I say yes of course. I am sure the feeling and sensation at the time was pretty amazing. Nine years later I am here. 

Question: What are your goals at present and also the dreams?

Sean Kelly: As of this year the real objective is to get a third year in the Rookies Cup and already getting a second year this year was an important objective but now a third year. We are in good progress. I am the only American racing in the Rookies Cup and I know they want an American in MotoGP and for a future World Championship. For now, just keep on progressing and get closer to the top. From then on, we have to keep progressing and everyone wants to be World Champion. This would be the best and if I can be the next American World Champion that would be great!

Question: Do you feel like you have the country on your shoulders? Is it playing on your mind? 

Sean Kelly: Unfortunately not I think. I wish I had my country on my back a little bit more. Honestly, I know I have the American flag with me…. Not so much support though. It is what it is. 

Question: What sacrifices have you made to get to this stage?

Sean Kelly: My family and I have done a lot. Last year we moved from Miami to Spain. It was really big and my family had to do a lot. We had to sell everything and our house back home is for rent and had to leave my sister back in Miami with her two daughters. This is a difficult transition. We still go every winter for a couple months so that was the biggest sacrifice apart from all the money my parents have invested in me and others for racing. This is part of it though. For me, it is determination every day. I want to be a better person every day and it is a lot of training and working. You have to do it if you want to be a World Champion. 

Question: So why come to Spain?

Sean Kelly: Miami…. The United States is not the best spot right now to progress as a rider and become World Champion. I think if you are fifteen and racing in the United States, you will not be a World Champion as of right now just because competition is not as high as Europe and there are not Championships that let you progress and come to Europe. The best riders are here in Spain and Europe. For me to start progressing and be a better rider it is to come to Spain. It is also much cheaper. I could not imagine going from Miami to Europe every month to race in the Rookies Cup. It works well and also I can train a lot more. There are more tracks and it opens the possibilities. If anything, I am more determined here. 

Question: How often are you training?

Sean Kelly: Everyday. I try to ride a motorcycle everyday and if not physical training. Sometimes, motorcycle riding and physical training takes place on the same day. On a relaxed day I still want to run.

Question: Did you previously train on your own?

Sean Kelly: When I am on my own I train by myself or ride motorcycles with my dad. It is more mental work and preparation with someone. It is mainly speaking with someone. If I have a friend that wants to work physically, we go and work out.

Question: What roles do your parents play?  

Sean Kelly: My dad does about everything from mechanic, support, help and more. He has no riding background. I am the only one in the family that started riding. Just born with it. There is more passion because I am riding in the Rookies Cup. My mom tries to follow us as much as we can. She is making the money. She is back in Miami right now. The good thing is that she is in Miami and looking after my sister as well. She is happy there. She is the one working very hard as well.

Question: Inspiration wise do you follow any particular MotoGP riders?

Sean Kelly: Not specifically. I have always said that I try to take the best out of everyone. It sounds really typical but it is true. I have never really had my head under one specific person or rider. It has always been the best of everyone. Some riders have better riding styles; some as a person are better like Nicky Hayden. I knew Nicky personally and as a person he was the best person I have ever met and then you have Marquez who is aggressive.

Question: In terms of the Red Bull Rookies Cup, how hard is it?

Sean Kelly: It is similar to Moto3. Last year I qualified 17th once and I was one second from the top which is nothing. It is the same in Moto3. Competition wise it is high in the Rookies Cup. There is a lot of Rookie riders in Moto3 like Mir. They are already Moto3 bikes, you learn European tracks and how to set up a bike and have competition there. 

Question: What about your sponsors? What support do you get?

Sean Kelly: Last year I had no sponsors. The Rookies Cup lets you have two spots on your suit and stickers on the helmet. I literally had Mom and Dad on my suit and was the only one. Then for this year it is opening up more. We have made good contacts around the sport. Most importantly this year I have Pole Position Travel and three others: MacLean Racing Team, Merchant Services LTD and H2 Performance. This is progress considering last year. We need much more and financially it is hard work for my parents. Training is very costly. Pole Position has been helping us out with hotels and other aspects. Riding everyday with maintenance, tyres and paying is costly. We would love more help. Right now, I have no American sponsors. I would love to! If there is anyone out there that wants to support me in the Red Bull Rookies Cup: please email racingkelly@gmail.com

On a final note, Sean is also fluent in Spanish and this is a major asset to have in a Spanish dominated sport. He wants to continue improving and allow the American flag to be flown with passion and to remember his great friend Nicky Hayden as well as he rides in the Rookies Cup as the only American rider. We wish Sean all the best and look forward to watching his progress throughout 2017. 


Credit: Red Bull & Gold and Goose

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.