Sharks are common in the Pacific Ocean, but you don’t expect to find one driving a sprint car around any of the California dirt tracks. That is unless you’re Sean Becker, who as a kid growing up loved sharks and is known as “The Shark.”
Seems Becker went to a race at Calistoga Speedway in the late 1990s and the track’s T-shirt had a picture of a shark on it with the phrase “attack the track.”
“I thought that was a perfect goal to have for how to approach each race,” Becker said. “The name really seemed to stick racing outlaw karts in Red Bluff (California). The announcer there at the time really enjoyed proclaiming ‘the shark is on the hunt,’ as I battled through the field.”
Like most racers these days, Becker followed both his grandfather and father’s footsteps in racing.
“My father, Delno Becker, raced when he was younger, flat track and motocross,” Becker added. “He actually turned pro in the late ’70s. When I was around 5, he started racing stock cars at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway and eventually raced sprint cars for a few years. I started racing motocross when I was 10, but that only lasted a couple years.
“I eventually moved on to racing outlaw karts when I was 12 at Cycleland Speedway and in Red Bluff during the winters,” Becker continued. “I raced for decades together with my older sister, Jaime, and younger brother, Daniel. Racing has always been a huge part of our family and it’s continuing on as my sister’s kids are now racing outlaw karts as well.”
Becker is best known for racing sprint cars but initially that wasn’t the goal.
“It was never really the ultimate goal for me or my family to get to the sprint car level,” Becker said. “I raced for a year and a half in the IMCA modified division. I did all right, but the style it took to drive those cars is a lot different from what I was used to in the outlaw karts. So we wanted to at least give the sprint cars a try and I was able to race in a few events at the end of the 2001 season. I definitely fell in love with this sport and I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to race full time from the 2002 season until now.”
Becker has split the last couple of seasons between two teams.
“Once all the schedules come out over the winter, I’ll get together with Dan and Cindi Menne and we’ll go over what races they can make,” Becker explained. “Then I’ll get together with Dan Monhoff to see what races he’ll be able to run. Lucky for me, everyone tries to work together so we can add as many races as we can to complete my schedule.”
The Menne Motorsports car carries the No. 75, while the machine Becker drives for Monhoff is No. 88n.
“Sean is a true gem of a man, husband, father, son and friend,” said Dan Menne. “But we really don’t think that is a huge secret or surprise to anyone he has ever encountered. Everyone who knows Sean would agree, he is really a genuinely wonderful human. From our personal experience over the past seven years, we couldn’t be more grateful to have him as our driver and a part of our family. Sean is the same on or off the track.”
Dan Menne is a former sprint car driver and raced against Becker.
“Dan spoke with Sean at Silver Dollar Speedway in 2011 about the possibility of Sean driving our 410 car for a race or two, only until it sold,” Cindi Menne explained. “Dan was still driving our family-owned Menne Motorsports No. 75 (360 and 410) on a limited basis and was thinking seriously about retiring after the 2012 season. He was looking to sell the 410 motor as he had come to the realization he wasn’t comfortable racing it himself. We have four daughters — Kelly, Becca, Megan and Haylee. Kelly was going to be graduating high school in 2012, so we were thinking it was time to end his racing career.
“Honestly, we were just hoping to sell the 410 motor to begin the downsizing process and preparing for Dan’s retirement,” Cindi Menne continued. “Then, Sean came into our lives and since then we have upgraded the car hauler, our equipment, added cars, motors and increased our race schedule. We are into racing deeper now than we ever were when Dan was racing and couldn’t be happier about it.”