Behind the Wheel With Amy Dargan

By Author: Tim Allen, Date: Apr 07, 2020
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For Amy Dargan, the dream was crafted at a very early age. She wanted to be in the MotoGP paddock and cover the sport for as long as she can remember. As a broadcast journalist, she is as good as it gets. Her insight, keen attention to detail, and unbridled passion for MotoGP comes through each and every time she’s on camera. We were fortunate enough to get some time on her calendar and get her thoughts on all things MotoGP, motorcycling and broadcast journalism while she’s been staying home during the current global pandemic. 

It’s apparent that motorcycles, cars, and racing are a big part of your life. What is your first recollection of being around motorcycles?

When I was a teenager I had a friend, Cat, whose father owned a garage and kept bikes at home. He was passionate about racing and would always have Superbikes or MotoGP on the TV when I would go over to see Cat. She was slightly older than me and started to work as a grid girl so I remember we used to all watch out for her popping up on the screen. I remember being totally in awe of the hustle and bustle of the grid, the build up to the start of the race and all the drama that goes hand in hand with motorcycle racing. As a teenage girl I was also sold on the idea of living out of my suitcase and visiting different countries each week.

Dargan with her certificate from the BMW Riding School

What was the first motorcycle you owned? Do you still own it?

I still have never got round to owning my own bike, I have my road license all ready to go but never had enough space in the garage to own one and when I go ride enduro, I’ve always been super lucky that my dear friends at the Mick Extance Experience let me use one of their bikes.

Tell me a little bit about how your TV career started?

I knew from the minute I started to watch MotoGP at Cat’s house that was where I wanted to work as a television reporter. So, I went to university and studied Broadcast Journalism. At the same time, I had started to work at all the races and shows, so managed to land myself a work-experience job with Eurosport who at that time had all of the superbike races. Two particular producers Charlie Hiscott and Tim Ufton gave me enough opportunities to be able to cut a reel together and whilst I was working as a Monster Energy Girl at MXGP (FIM World Motocross Championship), I was given my first job in TV the following season to be their pit reporter and presenter.

Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?

When I was a teenager watching bike racing, it was Suzi Perry I was watching. When I first joined the MotoGP paddock, she hadn’t covered MotoGP in years but the strangest thing now is that we work in the same paddock for different broadcasters. I also really respect Lee Mckenzie who has covered F1 in the UK for as long as I can remember and I could listen to her voice on repeat. Again, I had the opportunity to work with her last year for W series which felt surreal initially. Names you would probably be more familiar with; I love Supercross so used to love Erin Bates and then Jenny Taft.

Dargan covers MXGP and MotoGP for multiple outlets

What was the first motorcycle race you covered? First MotoGP race?

The first race I covered as a fully-fledged pit reporter was in Valkenswaard, Holland for MXGP in 2012. My first race for MotoGP was Valencia 2014. I started for my first full season in 2015.

Which race venue do you most look forward to visiting each year?

Far too hard to pick one; I love Austin, Mugello, and Phillip Island. 

Who are some of your favorite riders over the years?

I genuinely don’t have favorites because I do really love all the guys for different reasons. I obviously feel exceptionally grateful that I got to work in the paddock whilst Valentino was still riding. I always worried he would retire before I got my break in MotoGP. I remember at the Motocross of Nations it was always really cool when American riders like Dungey, Villapoto, Barcia, would come over as those were the guys I used to watch on TV for Supercross. 

Amy chats gets insights from Brad Binder on pit lane

The MXGP paddock was so different from the MotoGP paddock, far more intimate as we were a smaller operation and I was the sole television broadcaster so there was no such thing as asking for an interview through a press officer, you would just walk straight up to the rider. I had some really fun times and hilarious stories from my younger days working in motocross, like one particular evening when Kenny Roczen and I decided to break into the VIP cabin to get the left over Pizza but we had to go through the smallest window to get inside.

What’s the hardest part about doing your job?

It’s changed over the years, what used to be my favorite part – the traveling – is now the most challenging part. That probably has something to do with being in my thirties now and having a household and fiancée to look after! My actual job, I love still!

Dargan takes viewers behind the scenes

Do you ever feel like people take you less seriously as a female reporter in a male-dominated sport?

Perhaps, but within the paddock absolutely not. But I imagine, unfortunately, there are still the odd bods that normally don’t understand the job. David Emmett of Motomatters, I think, put it really well for International Women’s Day; “There are brilliant women in this sport, just as there are truly brilliant men. The difference is that to get here, the women almost have to be brilliant. There are very few mediocre women in the paddock.”

If I were to open the door to your personal garage at home, what would I find (cars, motorcycles, other things)?

If you could get the door open in the first place – the garage is very much my fiancé’s turf. So A LOT of mountain bikes, a motocross bike, a pit bike, tyres, paint, Sonax cleaning equipment, tools, and a crap body board. 

Do you have any favorite destinations or roads you like to go for a ride or drive on? Any roads you avoid at all costs?

Avoid – the M25 (unfortunately not very well)

Favorite roads – the Welsh valleys, the Mad Mike road in Franschhoek, and Cape Point.

If I gave you a free week’s vacation, all expenses paid, with the only caveat that you had to ride a motorcycle during that time, where would you go and why?

The Big Sur. I’ve always wanted to go, but unfortunately when I was in California the bridge had collapsed and we didn’t have enough time to take the longer route around. It would have been kind of pointless as I wanted to do the coastal road in any case.

Dargan out for a run with fiancé Sam Reynolds

What do you do to when you get a chance to get away from work? Any hobbies?

I run like a mad woman. A little less in the last twelve months as I picked up an injury but I’m getting closer to my old mileage. For the last two and half years I’ve also been studying personal training and recently passed my final exam and then for the last year planning our wedding – which is a bigger job than I anticipated!

Any final thoughts?

Just thoughts with everyone right now during this globally difficult time, hope everyone is finding their own way to keep their spirits up and to look after each other. We’re all in this one together. I know Dorna will do everything they can to get as many races away this year. I miss my paddock family and hope to join you all from a racetrack in the near future.

Thank you, Amy, for taking the time to give us some great insight into your world and the world of MotoGP journalism. We certainly look forward to getting you, and all involved in the sport, back on your feet and doing what you love to do. Until then, stay safe. We’ll see you at a circuit soon enough. 

To keep up with Dargan’s work and travels you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Tim Allen

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