RD Coffee fuels Ryan Dungey’s passion

Ryan Dungey Coffee
Mike Vizer

An athlete’s life moves quickly and the nine-time Supercross/Motocross champion was not ready to slow down when he retired in 2017 – so Ryan Dungey looked around for something else to fuel his passion and RD Coffee was born.

During years of circling the United States and traveling internationally as an ambassador for motorcycle racing, Dungey drank gallons of coffee. Some of them were good. Some were bad. A few were great.

Anyone who has had a great cup of specialty coffee – that did not come from a can of pre-ground beans from a grocery store and is not doctored up with steamed milk and artificial flavors – knows how subtle the difference between good and great can be. It is much like the tiny differences in a race that build up to seconds at the checkered flag.

The coffee journey starts with the bean and ends in the cup. Any mistakes along the way can ruin the experience.

“I started drinking coffee early in my racing career as a professional,” Dungey told NBC Sports. “I was probably 16 or 17 when I got introduced to it and it grew on me from there. I went from casually drinking coffee on the way to the track, stopping, grabbing a cup and meeting friends. Also it was our thing to do when we were traveling the circuit, going to different cities – different states, different countries. It started to really grow on me, so I developed a passion for it.

“As I learned more, I had friends who had an interest in coffee. It was super interesting to me about what made a good cup of coffee; what made a bad cup of coffee, sourcing the beans – which beans are good, which are not and the whole process down to the roasting side of things. I became fascinated with it all.”

Dungey was a highly touted Supercross 450 class freshman in 2010. In his first top division race, he went toe-to-toe with the rider many assumed would walk away with the championship that year and he came away with a near-miss, finishing second to James Stewart in Anaheim I. He won the next two rounds at Phoenix and Anaheim II. Then he went on to win his first 450 SX championship on the strength of four more victories.

He won the Motocross championship later that year, achieving two of motorcycle’s greatest accomplishments as a rookie.

Ryan Dungey CoffeeFueling that drive was coffee and he knew then that it would become more than something that got him up in the morning and kept him awake all day.

“Back in 2010, that is when I had the dream that I wanted to do something in the coffee industry,” Dungey said. “I didn’t pursue it immediately because my racing career was full time and I didn’t want to have any distractions, so I chose to wait until after racing.

“I decided when it became to time to end my racing – I always thought I would open up a coffee shop – but with everything that was going on I thought it was a lot simpler to set up my own roasting process, roast my own beans and share it with everybody.

“I didn’t have all the overhead (that a shop would) so I could put all the resources into the web development, getting the roaster, getting the build-out set up and it went from there. We launched June 1 last year.”

RD Coffee is a direct-to-consumer e-commerce site.

For most, finding the perfect brewing method is key. But that is only possible because of everything that went into the process before they ever press the button on the grinder. One cannot make a good cup of coffee with a badly-roasted bean. And one cannot achieve a great roast with an inferior cherry.

Roasting coffee is not as simple as putting green beans on a heat source and waiting for it to change color. To get the full flavor of the bean, a roasting profile has to swell and wane like a symphony until the last notes of the allegro fade.

“My biggest concern was dialing in on what roasting processes I wanted to move forward with,” Dungey said. “There was a huge learning curve. I knew a lot, but I needed to hone in on the last details of the roasting process, where I was going to source the beans, the web site. I was a one-man band back then.”

Dungey sat in his garage with a 2.5-pound air roaster and learned by trial and error. He chose air over drum roasting because he believes that provides a more consistent profile. When he thought he had the process right, Dungey asked friends and family to sample the coffee along with him, then took their comments and poured that back into the process.

“I focused on specialty coffees – the highest grades available – and so you’re getting high quality beans,” Dungey said. “As I was going through this process and sampling different origins, the flavors and notes that are inside these beans and being able to adjust the roasting profile to bring out the maximum flavors: When to start, when to stop and the end-temp.

“These beans have lots of flavor. They are really smooth, they are really balanced and complex. I was blown away with how much taste they have.”

Dungey’s first coffee was from Cajamarca, Peru, high in the Andes mountains. He found that a nice medium roast brought out hints of almond, lemon and toffee. And so his first coffee, which he’s named Accelerate, was born. A darker roast was needed for a true espresso, so he combined beans from Colombia and Guatemala to create his most recent offering, Holeshot.

“We know life can be a grind at times and we want to be a small part of your journey in helping you get to the finish line,” reads one of the taglines at RDCoffees.com.

To that end, RD Coffee offers subscriptions that deliver every one, two, three or four weeks. Aficionados can by a single pound or mix and match different varieties – either way, there is a five percent discount that gets substracted from the total. Consumers who subscribe to Dungey’s coffee are entered into a drawing for race-themed merchandise in a monthly giveaway.

Strong rebounds for Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi amid some disappointments in the Indy 500


INDIANAPOLIS – Alex Palou had not turned a wheel wrong the entire Month of May at the Indy 500 until Rinus VeeKay turned a wheel into the Chip Ganassi Racing pole-sitter leaving pit road on Lap 94.

“There is nothing I could have done there,” Palou told NBC Sports. “It’s OK, when it is my fault or the team’s fault because everybody makes mistakes. But when there is nothing, you could have done differently there, it feels bad and feels bad for the team.”

Marcus Ericsson was a master at utilizing the “Tail of the Dragon” move that breaks the draft of the car behind him in the closing laps to win last year’s Indianapolis 500. On Sunday, however, the last of three red flags in the final 16 laps of the race had the popular driver from Sweden breathing fire after Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden beat him at his own game on the final lap to win the Indianapolis 500.

Despite the two disappointments, team owner Chip Ganassi was seen on pit road fist-bumping a member on his four-car team in this year’s Indianapolis 500 after his drivers finished second, fourth, sixth and seventh in the tightly contested race.

Those are pretty good results, but at the Indianapolis 500, there is just one winner and 32 losers.

“There is only one winner, but it was a hell of a show,” three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Chip Ganassi Racing consultant Dario Franchitti told NBC Sports. “Alex was very fast, and he got absolutely caught out in somebody else’s wreck. There was nothing he could have done, but he and the 10 car, great recovery.

“Great recovery by all four cars because at half distance, we were not looking very good.”

After 92 laps, the first caution flew for Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing hitting the Turn 1 wall.

During pit stops on Lap 94, Palou had left his stall when the second-place car driven by VeeKay ran into him, putting Palou’s Honda into the wall. The car sustained a damaged front wing, but the Chip Ganassi crew was able to get him back in the race on the lead lap but in 28th position.

Palou ultimately would fight his way to a fourth-place finish in a race the popular Spaniard could have won. His displeasure with VeeKay, whom he sarcastically called “a legend” on his team radio after the incident, was evident.

“The benefit of being on pole is you can drive straight and avoid crashes, and he was able to crash us on the side on pit lane, which is pretty tough to do, but he managed it,” Palou told NBC Sports. “Hopefully next year we are not beside him. Hopefully, next year we have a little better luck.”

Palou started on the pole and led 36 laps, just three fewer than race leader Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren Racing.

“We started really well, was managing the fuel as we wanted, our car was pretty good,” Palou said. “Our car wasn’t great, we dropped to P4 or P5, but we still had some good stuff.

“On the pit stop, the 21 (VeeKay) managed to clip us. Nothing we could have done there. It was not my team’s fault or my fault.

“We had to drop to the end. I’m happy we made it back to P4. We needed 50 more laps to make it happen, but it could have been a lot worse after that contact.

“I learned a lot, running up front at the beginning and in mid-pack and then the back. I learned a lot.

“It feels amazing when you win it and not so good when things go wrong. We were a bit lucky with so many restarts at the end to make it back to P4 so I’m happy with that.”

Palou said the front wing had to be changed and the toe-in was a bit off, but he still had a fast car.

In fact, his Honda was the best car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all month. His pole-winning four lap average speed of 234.217 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a record for this fabled race.

Palou looked good throughout the race, before he had to scratch and claw and race his way back to the top-five after he restarted 28th.

In the Indianapolis 500, however, the best car doesn’t always win.

“It’s two years in a row that we were leading the race at the beginning and had to drop to last,” Palou said. “Maybe next year, we will start in the middle of the field and go on to win the race.

“I know he didn’t do it on purpose. It’s better to let that pass someday.”

Palou said the wild racing at the end was because the downforce package used in Sunday’s race means the drivers have to be aggressive. The front two cars can battle for the victory, but cars back in fourth or fifth place can’t help determine the outcome of the race.

That is when the “Tail of the Dragon” comes into the play.

Franchitti helped celebrate Ericsson’s win in 2022 with his “Tail of the Dragon” zigzag move – something he never had to do in any of his three Indianapolis 500 victories because they all finished under caution.

In 2023, however, IndyCar Race Control wants to make every attempt to finish the race under green, without going past the scheduled distance like NASCAR’s overtime rule.

Instead of extra laps, they stop the race with a red flag, to create a potential green-flag finish condition.

“You do what you have to do to win within the rules, and it’s within the rules, so you do it,” Franchitti said. “The race is 200 laps and there is a balance.

“Marcus did a great job on that restart and so did Josef. It was just the timing of who was where and that was it.

“If you knew it was going to go red, you would have hung back on the lap before.

“Brilliant job by the whole Ganassi organization because it wasn’t looking very good at half-distance.

“Full marks to Josef Newgarden and Team Penske.”

Franchitti is highly impressed by how well Ericsson works with CGR engineer Brad Goldberg and how close this combination came to winning the Indianapolis 500 two-years-in-a-row.

It would have been the first back-to-back Indy 500 winner since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.

“Oh, he’s a badass,” Franchitti said Ericsson. “He proved it last year. He is so calm all day. What more do you need? As a driver, he’s fast and so calm.”

Ericsson is typically in good spirits and jovial.

He was stern and direct on pit road after the race.

“I did everything right, I did an awesome restart, caught Josef off-guard and pulled away,” Ericsson said on pit lane. “It’s hard to pull away a full lap and he got me back.

“I’m mostly disappointed with the way he ended. I don’t think it was fair and safe to do that restart straight out of the pits on cold tires for everyone.

“To me, it was not a good way to end that race.

“Congrats to Josef. He didn’t do anything wrong. He is a worthy champion, but it shouldn’t have ended like that.”

Palou also didn’t understand the last restart, which was a one-start showdown.

“I know that we want to finish under green,” Palou said. “Maybe the last restart I did, I didn’t understand. It didn’t benefit the CGR team.

“I’m not very supportive of the last one, but anyway.”

Dixon called the red flags “a bit sketchy.”

“The Red Flags have become a theme to the end of the race, but sometimes they can catch you out,” Dixon said. “I know Marcus is frustrated with it.

“All we ask for is consistency. I think they will do better next time.

“It’s a tough race. People will do anything they can to win it and with how these reds fall, you have to be in the right place at the right time. The problem is when they throw a Red or don’t throw a Red dictates how the race will end.

“It’s a bloody hard race to win. Congrats to Josef Newgarden and to Team Penske.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500