GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Brycen Neal

Tuesday Toolbox: Brycen Neal

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 | 4:40 PM
Tuesday, October 10, 2023 | 4:40 PM
  • Wiseco Logo First of all, congratulations on capturing your second ATV Pro National Champion! Has it sunk in yet?

Brycen Neal: Hey thanks man, I appreciate it! and it’s just now starting to look around the shop and thinking back on the year! 

Neal would come out and earn the round one win back in February.
Neal would come out and earn the round one win back in February. Ken Hill

Let’s talk about the Buckwheat 100, you ended up making it very interesting. You ended up with a 13th O/A result that was enough to get the job done. But after leading the first half of the race you suffered a mechanical that had you beside the track for more than 5 minutes. What was going on in your head during that time? I have to think seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours.

Man, a lot. I was trying hard to diagnose the problem and figure it out, it was a first time ever problem that happened to us. At one point I started to think about all the things I was gonna have to do to the bike to prepare it for Ironman to seal off the championship whenever it reached a point of “idk if I have much time left to get back into this race today” lol But the race was saved literally by having a problem in front of my team. If it would’ve happened 2-3min later then I would’ve been over the ridge on the farthest end away of the property where there was nobody all race long so I’m thankful for that! 

As you reflect on this season, what were some of the highlights that stand out to you? 

Looking back on the season I’d say some big ones for me was getting wins at FL, Snowshoe and Beckley. Those ones have eluded me over the years, and it was really cool to think I’ve grabbed a win on every track on the schedule!

Which championship was harder, 2022 or 2023? 

Man that’s a tough one! Both were tough in different ways, but I would have to say 2022 because it was the first and it went all the way down to the wire. Biggest thing this year was not to be the only guy on an atv since 1993 to not back up the championship with a consecutive one! 

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Neal would continue to battle for the overall wins, putting himself in good championship placement throughout the year.
Neal would continue to battle for the overall wins, putting himself in good championship placement throughout the year. Ken Hill

We’ve talked about it in the booth until we’re blue in the face. But you found that fine line between riding like a wild man and knowing when to reel it in a bit to be smoother. The results speak for themselves. 22 career overall wins and two ATV Pro National Championships. There was a lot of question marks surrounding you coming into the 2022 season after the injury. In past interviews you talked about getting stronger mentally while rehabbing from the injury. When did things finally click for you, and how do you resist the urge to go “full send” from the waving of the green flag to the checkers? 

It clicked in the beginning half of the ‘22 season! Up to that point late 2020 and the 2021 season I hadn’t figured out that happy medium, yet which ended my season not being patient enough. That’s a tough question because every race is different with different circumstances, some races you get a good start up front and things have fell into place where you can just keep going forward and maintain and then there’s others where you get a bad start or get stuck early on and have no choice but to try and ride like a mad man to catch up. It’s one of those things that I’ve learned how to adapt to that days current situation and make quick decisions to whatever gets the job done!

You’re chasing history. Now sixth on the All-Time ATV Wins list. With the championship wrapped up you still have an opportunity to make headlines at Ironman. With 22 career overall wins under your belt you’re just one win away from tying Ironman Bob Sloan for fifth on All-Time ATV Wins list. As you reflect on your career, put this feat into perspective.

I’m very grateful. I was never the hottest up and coming youth rider who won all the championships and races. I never won my first GNCC race until 2010 when I was 15 after following the sport for several years. My dad and I together have had many races that went like this past Saturday with issues and problems, but we kept pushing forward and we’ve been able to put the puzzle together over the years! I just try my best to stay humble and keep working hard and make a kid smile every chance I get.  

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Neal secured his second-straight GNCC ATV Overall National Championship at this past weekend's Kanati Tires Buckwheat 100.
Neal secured his second-straight GNCC ATV Overall National Championship at this past weekend's Kanati Tires Buckwheat 100. Ken Hill

There was a lot of questions surrounding you going into the 2022 season after your injury. In a similar way those same questions were being asked of, arguably, your biggest competitor, Walker Fowler, this season. Many… “experts” criticized anyone praising Walker Fowler after his win at the Buckwheat 100. Racing is racing, mechanicals are part of it. Walker knows it, you know it, anyone who’s competed at your level knows it. Sometimes you beat the man straight up, sometimes you get a little help. How short some of the “experts” memory must be to not be able to reflect back on every win by yourself or Walker for that matter. Obviously, you want the honor and praise that comes with beating someone straight up. But when you have as many wins as you and Walker have, you “inherit” a few over the years. That doesn’t mean they’re not still your wins. They count. You can only control what you and your machine are doing. As you look forward to 2024, I have to think the Champion and competitor in you wants to see Walker Fowler at 100%, as well as guys like Hunter Hart, Cole Richardson, and the rest of the XC1. What are you expectations for 2024? 

I can’t wait! We’ve made solid improvements on the machine and also learned some lessons this past season. All in all we’re gonna have our strongest program to date next year and absolutely I want everyone at their best because that’s the ultimate test! I live for this, so I say bring on 2024. 

Enough about racing. Let’s talk personal life. You got engaged! Do you and Brooke have a date picked out yet? How is wedding planning going? 

Haha yessir! July 27th next summer! and wedding planning is smooth sailing for me, I’m gonna show up wedding day and look around and think “dang this is pretty cool” lol! Brooke on the other hand is in her element, she’s had this planned for a while now she was just waiting on me! lol 

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Neal is getting use to seeing these checkered flags first.
Neal is getting use to seeing these checkered flags first. Ken Hill

I know this Championship run didn’t happen alone. You’ve got a lot of great people and sponsors behind you. Who would you like to thank? 

I’d like to thank my Dad, Mom, fiancé Brooke and my sister! Uncle Mike Gheen, Justin Fallon, Troy Eddlblute, and all my family and friends from back home who come out to the shop or on race day and hangout and support me. I’d like to give a huge thank you to David Eller, Wayne Eller, Heath Harrison and the entire Phoenix Yamaha racing team. Yamaha, Blu Cru, Dan & Brandon Lamey and Lonnie at Dasa racing, CST tires, a huge thank you to JD Higgins and RedBear Racing, Moose gear, Parts Unlimited, DWT wheels, Tireballs, Elka Suspension, Jay Gobel & Dustin at Impact Solutions, Jeff & Rob at Houser Racing, WISECO Pistons, Web cams, Hinson, Vortex ECUS, Twisteddevelopment, Sunstar, Walsh, Waynesburg Yamaha, Acerbis, EKS Goggles, 6D helmets, Motul, Lonestar, ODI, Gear Bicycles, Antigravity Batteries, SSI decals, Arma, DP Brakes, IMS products, Precision, Guts seats, DirtworksMotorsports, Evans coolant, Factory43 bumpers, VisionAir intakes, Twin Air, Outerwears, Cometic Gaskets, Peak Powdercoating, UPP racing, BCC skidplates, JSR nets, Works Connection, 38 Motorsports, TLO racing, Moto clown designs, Jim Hardy and my trainer Ben Greenwood!