Ryan Dungey rides again, takes on Supercross legends in MotoCar Fite Klub
Former Supercross champion Ryan Dungey does not believe the first rule of Fite Klub is not to talk about it. Dungey wants his fans to know that he, along with fellow Supercross superstars Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath and Chad Reed are going to be part of a grudge match at Travelers Rest Speedway Thursday, Feb. 25.
The specialty race will benefit the Road 2 Recovery Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 to help AMA-licensed motocross and supercross professionals and action sports athletes with financial assistance after sustaining career-ending injuries.
“I saw that (Ryan Villopoto), and McGrath and (Chad) Reed posted something and it wasn’t really familiar to me,” Dungey told NBC Sports. “But I guess they were going to reach out to me shortly after those posts - and they did – but (Fite Klub) reached out to me first and said this is what we’re doing. These are the guys we’re trying to get involved. We want you to be a part of this deal.”
It took a couple of days to decide, but when Dungey noticed the dates perfectly coincided with a gap in his schedule, his competitive nature kicked in and he decided this was an excellent opportunity to show the five-time Supercross champion Carmichael, seven-time champ McGrath and two-time champ Reed that he could stack up against them on four wheels as well as two.
Fite TV is a pay per view entertainment company focusing on extreme sports featuring motorsports, boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts. With a two-wheel motocross-style Fite Klub special under their belt, they decided to see what these athletes could accomplish with four.
Dungey and the other competitors will get an opportunity to practice on Wednesday for about an hour. On Thursday the competition begins at 5:30 ET. In identically prepared Crate Sportsman cars provided by the local racers from Travelers Rest, Fite Klub will pit them into two-man, head-to-head challenges and then a 20-lap Main.
“Before (the other competitors) put on the helmet it will be fun and jokes, but as soon as they put the helmet on, they’re are competitive,” Dungey said. “They’re going to want to win and that’s what is going to make for a great race.
“Nobody is coming to lose.”
Originally intended to be a single division show, Travelers Rest has expanded to ticket to include Hornets, but the Crate Sportsman cars are the headliners.
Dungey has some obstacles to overcome. Several of his competitors have more experience in four wheel racing.
Carmichael did a stint in NASCAR in the Truck series. In 68 starts there, he earned 18 top-10s; four of these came on short, paved tracks. McGrath has run short course, off road trucks. Reed has been trying his hand in sports cars recently since retiring from Supercross last year.
On dirt, the playing field is more level.
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“I had no experience on dirt on four wheels,” Dungey said. So he headed to Cherokee Speedway in Gafney, SC to get some experience. “I’ve driven some (paved) late models, I had a shifter kart that I spent a lot of time in and a few other things. Then I looked at the competition – at (Brian) Deegan, McGrath, Ricky – a lot of these guys have four wheel experience.
“The the competitive side kicks in. I’d better get prepared. So we went down and did a car test and it actually went really good. Learned about the car and about the skills and being able to adapt to different conditions of the track, which was really helpful. I’m really glad I did it because this is something I wouldn’t want to go into cold turkey by any means.”
Travelers Rest and Cherokee are both 3/8-mile South Carolina dirt tracks, so Dungey’s practice session will be put to good use.
But Dungey thinks there is an even bigger crossover from his experience on two wheels. After all, racing is racing and it’s about controlling the speed and path through the corners.
“I think there are a lot of similarities that carry over from two wheels to four wheels,” Dungey said. “They are much different, don’t get me wrong, but there was a lot of similarity in setting up the corner. Getting on the gas, getting off the gas, corner speed.
“There’s a certain saying in our sport that sometimes it looks fast to get the rear end swung out wide and steer with the rear the whole of the corner, but it’s actually slower. So just trying to find that balance where you get the rear to step out and turn the car, but not where you’re completely sideways and scrubbing all your speed off.
“There were a lot of things that came quickly to me. By the end of the day, I felt like I had a good understanding of the car.”
MotoCar Fite Klub can be accessed on the company’s web site Fite.tv at a pay-per-view price of $19.99. Users will need to download an app to access the video.