Dave joined the company in 1959 as a teenager. Initially in the workshop, he later moved to the parts department where his main responsibility was the postal spares service. In 1969 30 per cent of the goods despatched from his department were for export.
With four years grass track racing experience, he had planned a comeback for 1970 with a 350 BSA B40 and a 500cc big port vintage AJS, both fitted with frames of his own design and manufacture. But he became involved in the Gus Kuhn race team, working alongside the race mechanic, Frank Kately, so weekends were no longer available for his own racing career.
Photo courtesy of George Largis
When Frank left at the end of 1970, Dave became the team's Race Mechanic. His ingenuity was legendry and he had a solution for most problems!
He was with the GK race team all through seventies until they finally retired from racing in 1979. Dave then left the company to join the Honda GB Race Team, where he worked with the likes of Joey Dunlop and Wayne Gardner.
Joey’s close friend and personal photographer, Derek McIntyre, remembered an incident when talking to MCN in 2020.
Assen was the venue for a tale of adventure in 1986 that has now become part of Joey Dunlop folklore. Derek was a passenger in the car with Joey that was crashed by Honda mechanic Dave Sleat during an illicit lap of the circuit.
"We had all gone to the prize-giving together and there were about seven of us in the car when we returned to the circuit in the middle of the night," Derek says. "The gate on to the track was open so instead of turning into the paddock Dave set off for a lap of the circuit.
But the car skidded off at the second corner and ended up on its side in a ditch. Joey’s trophy broke in half in the crash and gashed his head, and we both hurt our arms, so we only had one good arm between us. On the way home in the van I drove and he changed gear!"
Read more of Derek's memories of Joey here: https://www.motorcyclenews.com/sport/tt-road-races/joey-dunlop/
See a young Dave and his brother Peter by clicking here.
Read Jim Whitehead's memories of Dave when he first joined the company - click here.