OUR MOTORSPORT EDITOR HAS A DEEP PASSION FOR EVERYTHING TWO-WHEELED (AND OCCASIONALLY FOUR!) FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIM HERE...
I'm Dave Neal. I have a passion for motorcycle racing that stretches back as long as I can remember with my earliest recollections being a trip to Cadwell Park in the late 1970s to watch Barry Sheene, Mick Grant, and the Flying Dutchman, Wil Hartog resplendent in his white leathers and blue and red helmet.
These were some of the glory days of British motorcycle racing; the sights, the sounds, the smell of 2-stroke smoke hanging in the air made for a heady mix and had me hooked from day one. As I child I had posters of Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan - the love for Rothmans Honda was strong - as well as Rainey, Schwantz and, of course, Valentino Rossi.
I was at the first-ever World Superbike race at Donington Park and a handful of races after that before work and family life meant weekends were taken up and racing was purely televised. It wasn't until the mid-2000's that I started making regular trips to British Superbikes courtesy of a good friend and the Virgin Mobile Yamaha team. The love for live racing was rekindled and I couldn't get enough. In later years after the birth of my daughter, I passed that love on to her and she came to every round I did in between her swimming competitions.
The emergence of social media had a profound effect on my love for racing, all of a sudden I had a means by which to chat with people who had the same passion as I did and with people who also worked in the sport. It was via Twitter that I got involved in a project called @paddockchatter, a motorcycle racing feed that covered all aspects of racing, adding a little humour and opinion along the way. It was from here that things took off. A little help and encouragement from Ian Wheeler, Press Officer at MarcVDS arranged a chat with Scott Redding for Motorcycle Racer magazine and things went from there. It wasn't easy to pursue 'the dream' with a big mortgage and a young family while all the time working 12hr shifts but I gave it a good go!
I was invited to co-host an internet radio show called MotoPod, this was in 2013 when podcasts hadn't come to the fore as they are today but we still had a strong audience, mainly based in the US but the European audience grew with more focussed chat on BSB and BSB-based interviews. My first task at MotoPod was to pick up accreditation for the British MotoGP round and interview Jorge Lorenzo - this was my first face to face interview, what a way to start! After that Danny Kent in the Tech3 artic and Keith Huewen and Jules Ryder in the IRTA boardroom were easy...
MotoPod was the springboard to becoming known in the British racing paddock as I embarked on a journey of over 120 shows including a string of interviews that stretched across the broadest spectrum of riders from World Champions, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso to Cal Crutchlow and Brad Binder to some of the earliest podcast appearances for Glenn Irwin and Keith Farmer back in 2014. I've been fortunate enough to interview legends of the sport such as Wayne Gardner and Freddie Spencer, Valentino Rossi's and long-time mechanic Alex Briggs along with younger riders at the time like Lee Jackson, Jordan Weaving, and riders of different disciplines like Dirt Track star, Oliver Brindley.
A change of circumstances meant I had more time to dedicate to my passion from 2015 and even though I was still unpaid at this point it absolutely didn't matter; passion for the sport is everything and that was always the motivation. Since then circumstances have changed again where I now find myself fortunate enough to be employed to do what I love.
Helping young riders is something I enjoy as well as the interviews and generally chatting about racing. I helped on the PR side for young South African rider Jordan Weaving as he won the Motostar Championship in 2014 and Josh Elliott a year later as he took the STK1000 crown in 2015, and that's where the introduction to OMG Racing came. Josh started riding STK1000 for the team in 2018 and the relationship grew from there, up to the point that I now host the RICH Energy podcast, Off Track and create digital content for the RICH Energy website and for an exciting up and coming project that will be unveiled soon.