Tuesday, July 17, 2018
The short, wild career of Darrell Shultz
“Carlsbad was actually the worst. The track itself was just so hard pack and brutal. There were such huge holes and bumps. Some of the uphills, I don’t think they had ever been graded in the history of Carlsbad. The uphills before and after the monster-long downhill, the holes must have been three-feet deep and they were as hard as concrete. That was bad. I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the motos. In the first moto, every jolt I hit hurt my lung and me knee so bad. I just cruised around in 10th and just tried to take it as easy as I could and still get some points. I hung in there and I wrapped up the 1981 500cc championship in the first moto.”
Sitting in the shade of his box van after all was said and done, Shultz knew the handwriting was on the wall. “I wasn’t in agony, but the whole year I had been seeing signs and thinking, ‘Man, maybe this is it. I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to race next year.’ By Carlsbad those thoughts were definitely in my head. I just was feeling as invincible as I had before. I honestly thought I could take any amount of pain or bumps on the ground and could withstand it. I could tell my body was pretty much giving up on me.
“I knew it was over as far as my career after that race,” he added. “I was through with racing and immediately it was just horrible, deep depression. I had to do the sensible thing and I knew I had to quit racing. I even had a contract filled out for Honda for 1983. I was just living on pain pills and alcohol and from there it got worse. Basically, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to race again – ever. Honestly, after being a pro motocrosser, there wasn’t anything left for me. There was nothing on this world or on the Earth that I thought was worth living for. I went from the highest of all highs - to not even be able to ride for fun. It was more than I could take. Mentally, I wasn’t ready to have to quit, but I had to listen to my body and quit. As it turned out I might have just kept racing and cripple myself. It was horrible. Some of the car wrecks I had tried to do that to me. It was all downhill, man. I was trying to get it over with. It got pretty bad. I was lucky I had a really strong family. They never gave up on me or shut me out. They kept talking to me and saying, ‘You’re better than this. It’s kind of stupid what you’re doing. You’re going to kill yourself.’ I thought, ‘I can’t die and I’m not going to commit suicide and no matter how hard I crash into something, I just don’t care.’ I didn’t care about anything. All the car wrecks and all the street bikes I totaled. I was always drunk and just running from the cops. It was just all the craziness I could get into out there.”