Red Bull Straight Rhythm Racing Returns

Ryan Dungey, James Stewart, Ken Roczen: Who will win the drag race in the dirt for 2016?

Red Bull Straight Rhythm: James Stewart and Ken Roczen
James Stewart (left) and Ken RoczenPhoto: Garth Milan/Red Bull

The most unique race in motocross is back. Racers all over the world grew up with their dads hammering into their heads with one mantra: "Jump for show, corner for dough." Speed and advantage on a normal motocross track is gained in turns. Well, sorry Dad, but not at Red Bull Straight Rhythm. It's one minute of straight-up Supercross, and it's glorious. But Straight Rhythm is more than a full sprint — anyone can hold the throttle wide open for a minute straight. Success at Straight Rhythm requires as much precision as it does all-out speed; literally landing one foot long or short on the wrong jump can spell disaster for riders on this track. It is the quickest race in the sport, and therefore the most unforgiving.

Only one man has ever claimed victory in the Open class at Straight Rhythm, and you shouldn't need anyone to remind you of the name. This event has James Stewart written all over it. A race that can only be won with perfect precision, explosive speed and just a little extra over the best riders on the planet? Go to another world, one where they've never heard of Red Bull Straight Rhythm, and describe that event, and the response you will get will be "James Stewart must crush that."

Straight Rhythm returns on Oct. 22 to Pomona. As riders begin to sort themselves out, and we get a better picture of who will attempt to dethrone Stewart, the speculation gains momentum. Is a Stewart three-peat in the cards? Riders like Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen might have something to say. Each is coming off of a championship year — Dungey in AMA Supercross, and Roczen in AMA Pro Motocross— while Stewart has struggled throughout 2016, not once standing on top of the podium in the regular season races.

Red Bull Straight Rhythm: Ryan Dungey and James Stewart
Ryan Dungey and StewartPhoto: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull

The wind is in Roczen's sails — he won 20 of 24 motos in the AMA Pro Motocross series, which is the most dominant season since Stewart's perfect 24-in-24 2008 championship run. But, Roczen just announced his move from the familiar Suzuki to Honda, a bike that he has never raced before. Honda is an incredibly strong team, so the transition pains for Roczen will likely be minimal, but again, Straight Rhythm requires exact precision, and it's extremely likely that Roczen's CRF450 is going to require more than a month of testing to get to whatever magical setting that he had on his Suzuki.

Then there’s Dungey. Obviously, Straight Rhythm is much more akin to Supercross than motocross, and Dungey crushed Supercross in 2016. He podiumed all but one race through the whole series en route to his second SX title. Dungey is also the only rider ever to beat Stewart in a single race at Red Bull Straight Rhythm; yes, in 17 races at Straight Rhythm through 2014 and 2015, Stewart has only lost once.

But, what's in the cards for 2016? It's anyone's guess. As the big players begin planning for 2017, many will look to offseason races like Straight Rhythm to begin to sort things out. As we've established, Straight Rhythm requires the riders' A game, and between Stewart, Roczen and Dungey, that caliber of competition is nearly impossible to match.

Head to and get your tickets now for Red Bull Straight Rhythm on Oct. 22 in Pomona!