by Chris Tobin
Usually a son follows his dad in whatever sport he takes up.
In Noel May’s case he followed his son into motorbikes, although there had always been some interest, and now he has become national president of Motorcycling NZ.
“I played country representative rugby in Otago and Southland and retired at 30 and played golf.
“We were farming in Western Southland, at Tuatapere, and my wife Adele bought our son, Josh, then 6, a bike.
“I got a two-wheeler and went on trail rides and then at 8 Josh got into racing.
“I thought, ‘he’s getting too much fun’ and so I got into it.
“I’d always had an inkling for motorbikes but being in the high country, I didn’t go down that path.”
The Mays also became officials which led them to establish a company, Timing Tech, timing motorcycling events.
During the week, May sells rural real estate while his wife inputs data for their business and at weekends they travel all over the South Island providing timing services for motocross, cross-country, supercross, speedway and street racing events.
“It’s mainly motocross but we’ve done Highlands at Cromwell and the Race to the Sky at Cardrona.”
Before launching their business, May (50) said he did a lot of online research and they injected $250,000 into it from the outset.
In 2009 the Mays relocated to Timaru to take advantage of the central South Island location for their business, which involves up to 50,000km of travel each year.
He and his wife worked as volunteers for the sport over the years and in 2014 he was elected to Motorcycling NZ’s board.
“It was out of frustration about how things were being run by the executive committee.”
Motorcycling NZ has 52 affiliated clubs around the country and is run from an office in Huntly with a general manager and four staff.
It governs road racing, ATV, cross-country, enduro, moto trials, motocross and supercross, as well as the recreational side of the sport.
May’s position is fully voluntary.
He has become the first president to come from the off-road branch of the sport since 1974.
“Seventy percent of our members are off-road.”
Working to improve governance and communication are among his goals as president.
“Last Sunday I was in Whangarei and called on members there – they had never had a president call on them.
“We’ve got to be leaders and build the sport so it can be a pathway to produce the next Aaron Slight.”
Women had a big role to play in the sport also and he wanted this to grow.
“The best riders in New Zealand at the moment are all women. Avalon Biddle, Courtney Duncan and Rachael Archer are going really well.
‘We need to get women on our board – there are none at the moment – and we’ve got to get a better spread with the younger ones in their 30s, as well.”
The Mays are both life members of the South Canterbury Motorcycle Club.
“We’re lucky – the club has a tremendous family atmosphere.