Darrell Shultz will go down in history as one of the most gritty, determined riders in AMA Motocross history. Shultz, who is best known for winning the 1982 AMA 500cc Motocross National Championship, raced nearly his entire career in pain. The Northern Californian screwed up his left knee early in his career, having major reconstruction surgery when he was just 17. The knee never fully healed correctly and doctors told him he should quit racing if he were to have any semblance of a normal life when he got older.
Shultz decided to keep racing. He told Cycle News managing editor Scott Rousseau in 2006 that the doctor’s news had the opposite effect from what you’d expect. “If my knee was going to be screwed up for life, I had no choice but to make it now!”
Amazingly Shultz had a solid pro career in spite of his knee and other injuries. Shultz’ hard-charging style often put him in a position of winning or wiping out big. He raced the entire 1980 season with a broken wrist. Darrell came up big twice at the most grueling Supercross of them all – Daytona. Shultz won the Daytona Supercross two years in a row (1981 & ’82) to become the first rider to win the 250cc class at Daytona International Speedway back to back.
Shultz raced for Maico, Suzuki and Honda during his relatively short five-year pro career. In all he won eight nationals (including a Trans-Am race) in all equally divided between motocross and Supercross. Ironically Shultz finally broke through to win his one and only championship, the AMA 500cc Motocross class, in 1982, his final full season on the tour. During the off-season after winning the title he suffered through three surgeries trying to repair his bad knee. It was then he decided to retire from the sport.
The last I heard Darrell had a successful business and was living in Boise, Idaho, and was proud that he was still getting around on his original issue knees.