Harley-Davidson Engineer / Founder, The Collective Experience / Former Motocross Racer
There’s nothing like the feeling of adrenaline and excitement that comes with riding and racing. Dave Drakes of The Collective Experience, LLC knows that feeling all too well. A lifelong racer and two-wheel enthusiast, Dave has been chasing that feeling all his life, both on the bike and behind the scenes at top motocross and Supercross events.
Dave got his start in the sport racing back in New England on minis in the mid-2000s. Throughout his racing career, like most of us, Dave traveled the country honing his skills and completely immersing himself in the sport. One of the best parts about the sport of motocross, in Dave’s opinion, is the people. To this day you can always find Dave making new friends and chatting away at the races.
Racing season after season helped Dave increase his passion for two wheels as well as make some early connections in the racing world. Once college time came knocking, Dave found himself wanting to start a career in the motocross industry. It was his fascination for anything around two wheels that drove him to pursue a certificate in motorcycle overhaul and repair. At 17 years old, Dave started his own engine repair/race shop which helped support numerous local racers as well some pro MX and WMX athletes. This path allowed Dave to learn the ins and outs of race team operations as well as what it takes to have a successful business in the motorcycle industry.
After a few years of engine building, it was time for a bit of a change. Dave decided to go back to school and, as always, he let his passion lead the way. It was a mechanical engineering program at Connecticut’s University of Hartford that caught his attention. The excitement of racing paired with the challenge of engine design seemed like a perfect fit for an enthusiastic young engineer. Dave worked to keep up with school costs by working part time at local race shops and building engines between classes. It also helped him to continue to positively impact the racing community.
If that wasn’t enough, Dave also held down a major engineering internship and worked on a NASA-funded turbine research project on top of being a member of various organizations and around campus. Never straying too far away from his true passion, Dave continued to race and announce at local races. As luck would have it, a few months before graduation Dave met a few recruiters at an engineering conference and got an on-the-spot offer from none other than Harley-Davidson!
Always wanting to give back to the sport and impact fans and racers alike, in 2017 Dave created The Collective Experience (TCE), LLC, a one-of-a-kind fan experience program. Dave’s program is based around giving race fans from all over the world an immersive and all-access experience behind the scenes at the races with their favorite riders and teams. Some people come to TCE for a day of red carpet treatment with their childhood heroes, while others come seeking to get a foot in the door to the motocross industry.
Dave knows the importance of building relationships and TCE gives other people who share his passion a space to do just that— networking for dirt bike enthusiasts! To date TCE has helped dozens of past interns land roles as mechanics, videographers, trainers and even brand reps for major industry companies. Many privateers can credit the program in helping to fund their racing efforts over the years as a vast majority of the proceeds from TCE goes directly to support lower tier racers and teams.
Of course, being the nonstop guy that Dave is, he runs TCE on top of continuing to help design some of the coolest Harleys to date. This guy lives and breathes motorcycles! If you’ve ridden a newer Harley, there’s a chance Dave had a hand in designing and adjusting the bike’s handling characteristics. You can also catch Dave every week on his TCE YouTube channel showcasing interviews, vlogs and discussions from the races. It’s Dave’s dedication to the sport that drives him to keep giving back and helping riders, teams and fans alike.