James “J-Mac” McNeill is a military veteran and an avid BMX rider. J-Mac, a 52-year-old Corpus Christi resident, races class and cruiser bikes at his local BMX track, STX BMX Raceway. J-Mac, who joined the Coast Guard in 1988, served 23 years as a helicopter rescue hoist operator and Falcon jet drop master. He was also an aviation maintenance technician First Class. While he loved his life in the military, he continued to have a passion for riding bicycles.
When asked about his BMX beginning, J‐Mac put it this way, “I rode BMX before racing existed.” The first race that he ever rode was in a park that had one obstacle – a mud pit! This was just the beginning of his BMX racing career. It wasn’t until the 1980s at the Orange County YMCA racetrack that he started racing real BMX.
J‐Mac said that he liked BMX when he first started riding because it was not a team sport. It was a sport that depended solely upon the rider. In BMX, the success of the rider depends upon how hard the individual pushes himself. In the more than 30 years of riding BMX, J‐Mac has had many successes. According to J-Mac, his biggest achievement thus far is reaching two goals in one season. He ended the 2016 season at number 2 in District and State on his cruiser bike. His current goal for this year is to make Expert on his 20‐inch class bike. J‐Mac is currently sponsored by The Valor Club, an organization dedicated to military veterans and active duty.
When asked what advice he would give to the younger generation racers and newcomers to the sport, J-Mac said, “Ride more. Ride the track until you can’t ride anymore, and ride all over town when you can. If I could ride as much as I want to, I would be so much better. Ride like crazy!”
This response clearly shows his passion for the sport. I know firsthand that this is truly how he feels because I am a rider at his local track. J-Mac suggested one day at practice that everyone do ten laps without stopping. It was tough, but we learned that it was doable. J-Mac is a great role model because he not only motivates other racers to set lofty goals and push harder to achieve them, he shows them how it’s done.