PHOTOS | KTM Media
Ryan Dungey has always been one of the classiest riders in the history of the sport, and his retirement speech was no different. In fact, Red Bull KTM put a significant amount of effort into their press conference to announce his retirement. Below is Ryan’s speech, which includes his introduction to the sport as a pro, his accomplishments, the team that helped him reach success, and his reasons for walking away.
“Hey guys, good morning. I want to thank you all for coming out; it means a lot to have you all here for this moment. It's definitely hard to believe that this day has come, but after a lot of thinking and praying over the last couple months, today I announce my retirement from racing professional Supercross and motocross. This decision has not been an easy one. My whole racing career has been a blessing. Racing started out as something my brothers and I did for fun. Back then I never dreamed I could make a living racing dirt bikes, and even if I thought I could, nobody ever expected a kid from Minnesota to make it. I'll never forget that moment when I saw Supercross on TV for the first time. That moment sparked something in me, and all of the sudden I knew I wanted to be a Supercross racer. My parents did everything they could to make my dreams come true. When I was 15 years old, my life changed forever, I lost my grandmother to cancer. She fought a good fight, and she taught me to never give up. That inspired me to never give up on my dreams, because life is short.
“One year later, I got the opportunity of a lifetime, to try out with Factory Suzuki, lead by Roger DeCoster. The day couldn't have gone any better, and I saw my first professional contract at 16 years of age. It's rare to come out of the amateurs and straight into a factory deal, and some say I didn't deserve it, but I knew it didn't matter what everybody else thought, this was my chance and I was going to make the most of it no matter what. As a rookie, I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the most influential riders in the history of the sport; people like Ricky Carmichael, Ivan Tedesco, Roger DeCoster, and Ian Harrison. They took me in as part of the team and helped propel my career in the right direction. I fed off of the minds of champions, and hoped to become one myself. I didn't know what to expect from myself the first year, but I was surprised to get some wins, and in 2009 we won both 250 Supercross and motocross titles. In 2010 I made a move to the 450 class, and as a rookie my goal was to make some good results for my team, and little did I know, we could go on to win both 450 championships that year. I couldn't believe that at 20 years of age, I had won every major title in the sport, including winning the Motocross of Nations. It was a dream start to my career.
“However, good things to come to an end, and the next few seasons were tough. I finished runner up in almost every championship, in addition to Roger and Ian leaving factory Suzuki while I still had another year left on my contract. I found myself lost and confused, and knew I needed to make a change. In 2012 that opportunity for change came, and I was able to partner back up with Roger and Ian, this time at factory KTM. At the time, most said that this change was career ending. A career ending move in that I would never win on a KTM, but I knew that with Roger and Ian, and belief from his superior, Pit Beirer, who was offering us all of KTM's Austrian support, we could do the impossible. Going from being the least favorite to arguably the top manufacturer in the industry was a tall order. Surprisingly to most, we were able to win the 2012 motocross title that year. This was a great start to the Red Bull KTM team and all, but we knew we wanted more. We knew a Supercross title was our main goal. We faced many challenges over the next few years, but everyone at KTM kept working incredibly hard and in 2015 they developed a new KTM 450 SX-F that we would go on to make history with, delivering KTM not only it's first Supercross title, but we've gone on to win three Supercross championships in a row, along with adding another motocross title.
“I say this humbly, but I've achieved more than I ever could have imagined or dreamed of. Standing here today, we have nine championships, three Motocross des Nations wins, two Espy Awards, and a Wheaties box cover. The idea that people could think of me as one of the greats is truly amazing to me. For all of this, I am incredibly humbled and honored, but by no means did I do this by myself. This has been a team effort from the beginning. From my family supporting and guiding me, to Roger and Ian who gave me that once in a lifetime chance when I was just a kid that I am forever grateful for, you guys have been with me through the good times and the bad, and the bonds we have are unbreakable.
“I need to say a very special thank you to Mr. Pierre, thank you for believing in me and your motorcycle brand. Thank you Pit Beirer for always motivating and understanding me as a racer, and my wife who goes above and beyond to support me every day. I love you and I wouldn't have gotten through any of this without you. To my mechanic Carlos [Rivera], and the whole Red Bull KTM crew, I can honestly say I've been blessed with the best team, and my trainer Aldon [Baker], who not only helps me physically, but has mentally and spiritually impacted my life, and also my agent Mark, who always has my back. I've been blessed with some of the best personal sponsors in the industry; sponsors like Fox, Oakley, Red Bull and Target, who have believed in and supported for most of my whole career. I want to thank Eddie, Joel, Dr. G., and there's so many other people involved. Without all of their support, I don't think I would have enjoyed all of this success without them. I have to thank my day-to-day training partners as well, Marvin [Musquin], Jason [Anderson], and Zach [Osborne]. We have pushed and challenged each other to get better and faster, and I know I wouldn't have continued to grow as a racer without you guys challenging me every day. It truly takes teamwork to make the dream work. Also thanks to Fox Sports, NBC, and MAVTV, and all of the media partners, for growing our sport and broadcasting dirt bike racing on both national and international platforms, and Feld and MX Sports for the opportunity to go racing and do what we love. Thank you, the fans, without you racing wouldn't be what it is today, and I've truly enjoyed meeting so many of you who have supported me throughout my career. Lastly, I want to thank God for always guiding me and leading us in the right direction.
“I've gone as hard as I can, for as long as I can, and our sport is tough. The seasons are long, and it takes a huge amount of sacrifice, hard work, and discipline to stay on top. Physically I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life, however, mentally this year, I have struggled. I have always raced because I loved it and wanted so badly to win, but this season was just different for me. Getting my head into the game each week just wasn't the same. Lining up and being able to focus like I always had in the past was just different. I never thought I would get to a place where I would have to talk myself into starting a race, but that's how it was for me and the truth is, it bothers me a lot. I could easily just take a paycheck and race to the finish, but that's not who I am, and that's how I want to race or be remembered. Also, this sport can be brutal competing at the highest level. I found that out for myself last year in Colorado. A moment’s lapse in judgment can be costly. To be healthy and stay fast takes a lot of focus for an entire race, let alone 17 consecutive Supercross races, along with 24 motos, and the additional races that get incorporated in the offseason. I said on the podium in Las Vegas that this championship probably meant the most of all of my Supercross titles because the truth is, I had to fight the hardest for this one; not necessarily because of the battles on the track, though those were good and tough, but because I had to push myself mentally like never before to get it done, and to come out on top and hold onto that championship title for the third year in a row is an unbelievable blessing. I love racing, and I love our sport, but I just feel that in my heart that I'm ready to take a step away now, happy and healthy, and totally blessed. I've accomplished everything that I set out for, and so much more. Although I'm taking a step back from racing, I still plan on being involved in the sport and will try to continue to make it better in any way that I can. The sport has blessed us so much, and I'll be forever grateful for the memories and friendships I've made along the way. As this chapter in my life comes to a close, I'm excited to see what the next chapter has in store for us.
“I hope that I have contributed enough to help make our sport better off than when I came into it. Through this journey, I've learned that my job on the track is important, but who I am off the track equally, if not more important. I realized that being a good leader, role model, and an ambassador for the sport is important. My hope is that I've been a good example and inspired others to know that anything if you never give up and always give it your best and believe. Even if you're a simple kid from a small town in Minnesota, just like me, if you dream big, work hard, and believe in yourself, big things can come your way. Again, thank you to everyone who's been a big part of this journey with me, and I'm so very grateful and blessed. Thank you.”