The Ride of My Life – David Despain Interview
Despain is by far the most recognized personality in motor-sports journalism, from his time with ABC’s Wide World of Sports, ESPN, Speed and MAVTV. Despain is truly a world-class example of a hall of fame journalist.
Overland Expo 2014
It’s the beginning of October and Brad Barker is sitting at the 2014 Overland Expo. The Overland Expo basically is a big yearly gathering were off-road enthusiasts share stories about their adventures from all over the world in a vehicle.
Sharing his personal experiences, Barker is just hanging out with some other off-road enthusiasts from the expo when he spots Despain. At first Barker is thinking, no way can this be David Despain – this guy is a legend. Shortly after reality sunk back in, Barker found out that yes, it really was him. So Despain sat down for an interview with Barker and shared his career and motorcycle riding experience.
The Early Years
After high school, Despain was a disc jockey/DJ in Fairfield, Iowa. “It wasn’t something I planned to be, I just kind of stumbled upon it and it was easy,” explained Despain. He liked the job as a disc jockey/DJ, so he kept it awhile. Soon he found out that his passion and calling was motorcycle racing.
Barker asked Despain a simple question. “How did you get started in the motorcycle industry?”
“I wanted to be a racer,” explained Despain. “All I lacked was the talent, courage and stature. Of course I was too big to be a motorcycle racer.”
Of course Despain wanted to be a motorcycle racer. He has the passion and love for motorcycle racing; this is why he has become a world-class motorcycle journalist. Motorcycle racing isn’t a sport for everyone and Despain knew it was going to be tough breaking into the sport.
He soon figured out he was good at one thing when it came to motorcycle racing, which was announcing it. “In 1972 I ended up with a job at the American Motorcycle Association writing press releases and covering the sport. This is how I got into the sport,” Despain said.
In 1975 Despain went down to the Daytona 200. The Daytona 200 was Despain’s first on air experience. “ABC Sports needed an expert analyst and I was given the opportunity to tell the world why they should come to the Daytona 200,” explained Despain.
Selling the Daytona 200 was actually was really simple Despain. He knew the sport and he had a burning passion for it.
After the Daytona 200 Despain’s life changed forever. Even though his plan was never to be on air, that is just what happened. “I never aspired to be on television. My passion was motorcycling. Five years later I was given the opportunity to continue to be on the air,” Despain said.
Despain’s first memorable broadcast moment was back in 1989, when he had the opportunity to interview Jeff Gordon. At the time Gordon was just starting his career but Dave knew that he was going to become someone special.
The Jeff Gordon interview was followed up by a Kenny Roberts interview.
“Kenny Roberts was another great interview I will never forget. I interviewed Kenny at 17 and he was a tough interview, he didn’t really talk much,” Despain said.
The short answers actually given by Roberts actually helped Despain in the long run.
At age 40 Despain decided to become a road racer. He ended up winning a novice regional race but soon after he ended up breaking his leg due to a crash. “My boss ended up making me a 12-hour opening stand. I soon figured out I better not race anymore,” said Despain.
When asked what has been the ride of his life, Despain responded, “That is really tough. The last dirt track race that I rode at Sedalia, Missouri, I had gone there and spectated as a kid. The fore mentioned Harley factory team was the team I watched at the racetrack. Freddy Nix was the man on the mile races, that was a huge thrill for me,” Despain explained. “To get to race on that race track, was pretty hot stuff.”
It is clear to see that David Despain has had a life full of awesome and powerful memories. Not only is Despain a world-class journalist, he is a true off-road/motorcycle enthusiasts.
To see the full interview, click here.
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About Brad Barker: The Ride of My Life is the autobiographical account, of Brad Barker’s passion for exploring the world from the back of a motorbike. As the founder of The HALO Corporation, a private security consultancy, Brad found him-self traveling the world’s disaster areas while witnessing some of the most difficult and darkest realities our planet currently faces. One day he pondered the question “Where’s all the good news?” and began taking the steps to seek out positive and intriguing experiences on his “life ride”.
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