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Behind the Scenes: 2021 RedBud National


The motocross season always holds a special place in my heart. After all, motocross is what we all grew up racing and there’s just something really rewarding about emerging victorious after two grueling motos. While supercross gets a lot of attention because of the bright lights, big stadiums, and the spectacle of it all, I think the biggest challenge we face as racers is finding consistency across 24 motos during the Pro Motocross season, battling through all the difficult elements of the summer.

On top of all that, the atmosphere at a Pro Motocross event is something you have to experience for yourself to understand. The crowds are extremely passionate, and we race mere feet away from them at many of the tracks we visit. It’s an experience you only get at a National.

Ryan Dungey at the 2021 RedBud National

Arguably the most special race on the calendar is RedBud, in Michigan. Since it takes place during the Independence Day holiday there’s a built-in energy around the event because everyone is celebrating. Additionally, RedBud itself may be the best track we race on all year. It’s got everything you could dream of to create the “perfect” motocross track. 

This year I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation from the broadcast team at the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship to contribute to the telecasts on MAVTV, NBC Sports Network, and Peacock. I’ve enjoyed dabbling in a little bit of TV stuff here and there since I retired, so I jumped at the chance to join Jason Weigandt, Grant Langston, and Ashley Reynard at one of my favorite races of the year.

Ryan Dungey contributing to the telecast at 2021 RedBud National

The plan for my involvement was to serve as an extra trackside reporter for the afternoon. While I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with RedBud during my career, I was able to get a couple wins there and I have a keen understanding of how difficult the track can be, especially when you’re trying to piece together two solid motos. I was excited to have the chance to share my knowledge with all the viewers at home.

I arrived in town late in the week and made my first trip to the track on Friday. It had been a while since I was last at RedBud, but the moment I pulled in all those fond, and not-so-fond, memories came rushing back. I really wanted to take it all in and couldn’t help but feel an urge to jump on a bike and do some laps on the track. Like I said, RedBud is an incredible racetrack and it’s a lot of fun to ride it.

Since it had been some time since I was last at a National I also wanted to make my rounds through the pits and say hi to some old friends. It was good to see everyone and catch up a bit. I was also happy to discover how interested people were in RD Coffee. The industry has been really supportive of what we’re doing and I feel fortunate to have a lot of advocates for our products that were considered competitors and rivals not that long ago.

The broadcast meeting helped me get a better understanding of what my role would be throughout the day. We’d kick things off with the qualifying show in the morning and then it’d be four straight hours of action once the motos kicked off that afternoon. The track was rough, but it was also prepped well and allowed riders to seek out different lines. It was also pretty warm. Nothing too crazy, but it was going to be important for riders to preserve their energy to last over the course of both motos because the track was going to demand extra effort. That meant proper hydration, proper nutrition, any necessary cool downs, and as much rest as they could get during such a busy day.

It’s those extra little things that a lot of fans probably don’t realize when they’re watching the races, and I was there to help fill that gap a little bit. Line choice is essential as the track deteriorates more and more throughout the day. Also, the amount of effort that goes into simply being able to be competitive across two motos can make or break any rider’s chances. The rider’s perspective is something that’s difficult to get when there’s so much racing to pay attention to, so I felt honored that everyone believed I could be the one to add that extra layer to the broadcast.

Ryan Dungey speaking on the telecast at 2021 RedBud National

With all my years of experience and the success I was able to achieve, I certainly have a lot of confidence in my knowledge, and I also feel comfortable in sharing that insight. However, it’s an entirely different dynamic once you step in front of that camera. Everyone always talks about how nervous they get, and I can sympathize with that! I hadn’t felt those kinds of nerves since I was on a starting gate. In that moment it didn’t matter how much I knew. I just felt a strange sense of pressure to not make any mistakes and trust that I was capable of getting the job done. It really did take me back to my early riding days when I had the exact same thoughts running through my head.

Before I knew it the day was done. It was impressive to see how much further the sport has continued to progress even in the few years I’ve been away. These riders are masters on the motorcycle with the way they’re able to carry speed through the corners, carve through ruts, and scrub off jumps. While speed will never stop being the top priority, riding technique has become the difference maker. The field is so deep and everyone is fast. What’s separating the guys at the top from everyone else are the little things most people would never notice but trust me when I tell you that what they’re doing is nothing short of incredible. 

All in all, it was a great day at RedBud. I was happy to be back at the races and I now have the itch to try and do some more TV before the season is over. Keep an eye out because who knows when I might be invited back!

Ryan Dungey enjoying his day at the 2021 RedBud National

Photos courtesy of Reed Photography and Simon Cudby