Back in 1972, the American Motocross Association launched the AMA Motocross Championships which brought together the best racers in the world to compete on a weekly and season-long basis. Ever since then, there have been plenty of names that have come and gone, but only a few truly dominated the sport. Out of all of the AMA racers, here are the five greatest in the organization’s history.
5. Ricky Johnson
One of the OGs of professional motocross, Ricky Johnson was a dominant force during the 1980s, especially in the later part of the decade. Johnson won several championship titles, including the 1984, 1986, and 1987 AMA 250. Johnson would continue to race well after the 1980s ended, too, but started focusing on other sports.
Johnson would get involved with stock car and off-road racing in the late 1990s. He participated in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series and Stadium Super Trucks. It wasn’t until after the 2021 season that Johnson decided to retire, and his legacy of motorsports is one of the best in the world. In AMA, Johnson secured 22 titles to earn him the fifth overall spot.
4. Bob Hannah
Slightly ahead of Johnson on the list is Bob Hannah, who notched 27 career wins during his competing days in the late 1970s and all of the 1980s. The outspoken Hannah was part of the American surge in motocross, and the Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee started off his season-long championship resume with a 1976 AMA National 125cc title.
Hannah added back-to-back AMA National 250cc championships in 1978 and 1979, and throughout the 1980s he continued to dominate. Hannah had slipped toward the back of the pack in 1989 and called it quits after 15 years in the pros, ending one of the greatest careers in motocross at 33 years old.
3. Eli Tomac
Nobody dominated the amateur circuit quite like Eli Tomac did while growing up, so it only makes sense that he would go on to become one of the greatest professional racers in history. Tomac and he would stake his claim right away. In his first professional race in the 250cc class, Tomac took the top of the podium, making him the first in AMA history to do so.
Ever since then, Tomac has been setting records left and right that some thought would never be broken. At the lowest points in his career, Tomac is still a guarantee for the podium in at least half of his races. With time still on his side, Tomac has the chance to take the number one spot in almost every record.
2. Ryan Dungey
The pride of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, Ryan Dungey has a title in every major motocross and supercross circuit with seven AMA championships. Dungey got off to an incredibly strong start in his career, averaging a finish of 2.38 in each AMA race. By 2012, Dungey reached the podium in every single event.
Dungey has nearly 40 wins in the 450 Motocross Class and another 34 in the 450 Supercross class, and over an eight-year span finished outside of the top 10 in just two races. In 2015 and 2016, Dungey won back-to-back ESPY Awards for the Best Male Action Sports Athlete and would retire in his 20s before making a comeback in 2022.
1. Ricky Carmichael
While the rest of the list is certainly up for debate, there is nobody that questions Ricky Carmichael as the greatest AMA racer of all time. Carmichael is to motocross what Wayne Gretzky is to hockey with the type of dominance he had during his career. Carmichael won multiple season-long titles in several classes and even branched out into NASCAR.
Carmichael won three 250/125cc class championships, five supercross 450cc championships, and seven motocross 450cc championships during his illustrious career. He also won multiple gold medals at the X Games and had a top 10 as a stock car racer with the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2010.