The 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, is now just four days away! The 50th Annual Hangtown Classic, just outside of Sacramento, California, will go off the starting gate on May 19.
Five years ago, on the eve of the 2013 outdoor season, the editors and contributors of Racer X Online did a countdown of the 30 Greatest AMA Motocrossers of all time, ranking the best riders on the AMA Motocross circuit. You can check out that list right here.
But now we’re five years past that list, and in anticipation of a brand-new season of racing, we decided to revisit and update that list, adding in the results and championships accumulated in the past five years to our existing results, which go back to 1972. Our rankings include a mix of championships, race wins, and podiums; a rider's efficiency and longevity; the competition they raced against; and, of course, pure talent and speed. Remember, these rankings are based on the AMA Motocross Nationals—international events like the Motocross of Nations and Grand Prix events here and abroad will not be factored into our tally.
When we last did a list like this Ryan Dungey came in at #10. He was one spot behind Ryan Villopoto, his nemesis, and still had years in the tank. Little did anyone know that RV, arguably the faster of the two, was very close to the end of his body of work as an outdoor motocross rider. Villopoto had one more Lucas Oil Pro Motocross campaign in him, 2013, which he won. Dungey, on the other hand, had a few more to go. When 2013 was starting RD was coming off a ten-race winning streak, one of the longest in series history. Dungey had made a habit out of being at the right place at the right time, and his sheer longevity, which lasted until May 2017, helped him rack up some very impressive records—numbers much higher than anyone might have expected for a kid from Minnesota that was barely known as an amateur.
For instance, back in 2010, while Dungey was still with Rockstar Makita Suzuki, a terrible crash at the St. Louis SX knocked Villopoto out of title contention in both SX and the following AMA Motocross series. That made for a fairly easy run for the efficient, fast Dungey, who already had a 250 National Motocross Championship under his belt. Not bad career stats for a kid from Minnesota who was plucked from the obscurity of the amateur ranks by star-finder Roger DeCoster, then built a unique training setup where he gleaned all he could from the retired master Ricky Carmichael, whose ranch track he rented.
Villopoto won four straight Monster Energy AMA Supercross titles between 2011 and ’14, and in the summer won two 450 AMA Motocross titles. Straight up, he was better head-to-head during their time on the track together with Dungey. But then RV left, Dungey kept going after switching to Red Bull KTM to rejoin DeCoster. He was consistently at the front for several years after Villopoto retired. In the process his race wins and titles continued to accumulate.
In looking at their pure numbers—Nationals entered and wins—Villopoto was much more efficient but also more fragile. Dungey was a workhorse like Jeff Stanton; Villopoto was more like Rick Johnson—often dominant when he was healthy, but not always healthy.
Villopoto stopped racing outdoors after a title run in 2013. Dungey stayed with it through the summer of ’16. He scored another 450 title and posted numbers second only to the GOAT himself, Ricky Carmichael, in several columns.
- Ryan Dungey has 39 career AMA Motocross wins in the 450 Class, second only to Carmichael. For comparison’s sake, Villopoto and James Stewart have 32—combined.
- Dungey has 69 podiums in the 450 Class, again second overall to RC’s 84.
- Dungey was not as good on a 250 as Stewart on the 125 or RV on the 250F, but he did get seven more wins and 22 podiums.
- Dungey won four AMA Motocross titles, three on 450s, one on the 250. But he finished runner-up three times on the 450 and once on the 250. And let’s not forgot he was also part of three Motocross of Nations wins.
- Off the track, Dungey was the first motocross athlete to win an ESPY. He actually won two (2015 and 2016) in the Best Male Action Sport Athlete category. He also became the only motocross rider to grace the cover of the Wheaties box.
All told, Ryan Dungey sits second in many categories of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. He didn’t have the dominance of Stewart or Villopoto, let alone Carmichael. But he had many more chances to win in extending his career and staying healthy for much of it, unlike Stewart and Villopoto. His longevity must be accounted for, as well as his speed and success and staying power. That’s why he’s #4 on our list of the NBC Sports Gold 30 Greatest AMA Motocrossers list.
You can see all of Ryan Dungey's results here in the Racer X Vault.