To celebrate Ryan Dungey’s latest success our US correspondent Steve Cox has penned this epic three-parter which we’ll be drip-feeding you this week. The first instalment offers an overview of Dungey’s career so far…

Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey has had a lot of chapters in his career. He started out as a pet project of then-Suzuki team-manager Roger De Coster who thought he saw something in Dungey – a B rider at the time of his tryout – that he thought could be successful in the pros. After a disappointing debut outdoors (after Loretta Lynn’s) he got to work, then won his first-ever AMA Supercross event in the 250cc class.

During his 250cc career, he got outmatched mentally by Jason Lawrence one year, but eventually did pull down championships both indoors and outdoors before he famously stepped up, after winning the 250cc National Championship, to race MX1 for Team USA at the Motocross of Nations in Italy in 2009, winning his class in his debut 450cc race.


The next year, in 2010, Dungey moved up to the 450cc class full-time, and – with a little help from an injured Ryan Villopoto – won both 450cc championships Stateside, then returned to the Motocross of Nations and helped the team defend its title.

But in the time between then and the start of the 2015 season, although he’s won quite a few races, the championships just weren’t lining up. He only managed one title – the 2012 450cc National Championship – during that time, with Dungey’s Red Bull KTM teammate Ken Roczen taking down last year’s 450cc MX title, and Ryan Villopoto taking down all the rest.

As the time went by, the young, confident Dungey was slowly replaced by an older, less confident Dungey. That was rectified prior to the 2015 season and that made all the difference in the world. This is the story of how he got there…

Racing professional motocross was always a dream for Dungey, and just like most young racers, so was the idea of becoming a factory rider. And winning championships? Sure, if that’s possible…

“First, I dreamed of being a professional racer,” Dungey said. “That’s a dream in itself. And I landed a factory ride, which I was very thankful for, and from there it was just about trying to do the best that I could. Finding myself in 15th and 16th in my debut [outdoors in 2006], it just wasn’t satisfying. And from there, we went to work, and it’s been an amazing career. I don’t want to say I didn’t believe I’d accomplish this much, because I really wanted to – I wanted to win championships and races – but it’s very rewarding and satisfying with all the hard work end effort that we put in, including the people around me and all that they sacrifice as well.”

And that last part is a big key. Unlike a lot of racers – especially younger racers – Dungey seems to understand that he’s not the only one sacrificing for him to be successful.

“I mean, I’m very blessed to be in a position I am,” Dungey said. “I mean, to go out and race my dirt bike for a living and make money doing it. Obviously with results our sport is more performance-based, so the more you can win, and win championships, you can do better.

“But I don’t know. Money is a tricky thing. I think a lot of kids are young and you get into that position and people tend to learn how to use it the wrong way. It can go backwards really fast. It was a struggle for me, in the beginning. I didn’t know what to do. But to be able to be a blessing to others. I mean, we’ve been able to do great things, me and my family and my wife. I mean, I’m not going out there blowing my money on things – that’s pointless. I have before, on a few things, but it’s temporary happiness. Pretty soon you find, ‘Ok, what’s the next void?’

“I don’t know how to describe that subject. I’m very fortunate to be at the top of the sport and to make money doing it, but that’s not going to get in the way of all that I want to do and all the achievements I want to accomplish. When you’re 16, you’re probably pretty selfish. And even when I was 24 I was probably pretty selfish. [He’s 25 now.] But the older I get, the more I’m learning. I want to be the best I can be in all areas, and not be selfish if I don’t have to be.”

Tune in tomorrow as Ryan talks about tougher times…