INTERNATIONAL motocross star Luke McNeill is preparing to go full circle when he returns Nowra Showground, the place he cut his teeth in his early teens, with action-sports entertainment juggernaut Nitro Circus on Saturday.
It’s part of an incredible journey for the proud South Coast son, that’s taken him from his hometown of Jervis Bay to the bright lights of Hollywood as a stunt double for action star Vin Diesel in the recently released action flick, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.
It’s something the 25-year-old could only dream of when he first graced Nowra Showground, a budding freestyle motocross star, at just 13 years of age.
“I was only reflecting on it the other day, I’ve competed against my childhood heroes, I’ve won against some of them, now I’m doing shows with them I’m doing movies with the biggest actors in the world,” McNeill said.
“When you’re a kid it’s just a dream and it’s so far away, when you’re actually there it’s surreal, you’ve got to pinch yourself.
“I was a kid at 12 years of age going to watch Crusty Demons and watching Nitro Circus on TV.
“All the tricks I thought were so ground-breaking when I was a kid… now I’m out there doing the same thing. To be a part of all that now is a dream come true.”
McNeill enjoyed a stellar career on the Australian FMX circuit, being named rookie of the year in his debut season at just 17 years of age, benefiting hugely from the mentorship of another South Coast product, global extreme sports superstar Robbie Maddison.
“Robbie’s been amazing, he’s done the world of good for me,” McNeill said.
“He’s given me a place to ride as at a young age. I was that little kid at 10 years of age hanging out with the big boys but he always believed I had potential. He’s not just a great mentor he’s a great friend.”
It was Maddison who recommended McNeill as a stunt double to the producers of xXx to stand-in for Diesel in the high-octane action scenes.
“I definitely had to pinch myself,” McNeill said.
“When I first got the phone call I took it with a grain of salt thinking this could happen it could not happen.
“I had to go through a rigorous training program before I got there to double for Vin because he’s a big dude and quite muscular so I was training twice a day, eating seven times a day, putting a lot of weight on.
“It was definitely an eye-opener when I got there. It was a learning curve but I feel like I adapted to it pretty well and it’s real family and tight-knit community within the industry particularly with the stunt people.”
Which brings him to Nowra Showground this weekend and a promise to deliver on a rare chance to showcase his full arsenal of breathtaking tricks in front of a home crowd.
“I’m pumped to have such a big show like Nitro circus come to my home town,” he said.
“Any event happening in my backyard, I want to be a part of to show the kids that you really can get to the top no matter what it is you want to do.
“I’m over the moon and that excited to do it in my own backyard in front of my family, my friends, all the people I grew up with. When you’re there performing in front of your home crowd you really feel like they’re on the bike with you and it gets the adrenalin pumping even more.
“I’m bringing my A-game and I’m definitely bringing some big stuff to the table. Whatever you can think of we’re going to do, we’re going to throw-down for you.
“I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long time, so do it in my backyard, on this scale, is a pretty special feeling.”