Profile: Dean Sundahl

Champion and still King of the Desert

Oct. 01, 2003 By Robin Davis
More than 20 years after entering his first race, Sundahl is still racing and still winning races. Sundahl recently captured his tenth Fudpucker Racing Team King of the Desert title last February in the deserts of Southern California. It was his tenth in 14 races, losing not to other riders but by mechanical breakdown. Unless you have been living under a rock, Sundahl's racing career is well-known. He has been racing for more than 20 years and has won more races than he can keep track of. He won 11 SCORE Parker 400s in a row before they quit racing ATVs at Parker.

And more Baja 1000 races than he can remember and several SCORE class championships. He was part of the famous first Honda ATC racing team in the early 80s. Some of his best experiences were going to races in other parts of the world.    ''Australia was great and Holland and France....and then Alaska that was great too.'' Remember the Veronica Beach Race in Holland? He's won that one twice, maybe three times but he can't remember.

He's also picked up wins at races in Paris and the Fink 100 in Australia when he raced for Honda of Australia. One of his worst race memories was when he was racing a Kawasaki in the SCORE Great Mohave 250 and lost the race in the last 100 miles.

''The chain wadded up and it locked up the rear end. I had a huge lead in the race and winning it would have made me $5000. It was unbelievable frustration.'' Jump'n So after 20+ years of racing, what keeps Sundahl going and winning? He is not a man of many words and does not easily sing his own praises. But plainly and simply he says, ''It's still fun.'' But fun doesn't keep you competive when the competition is almost 20 years younger than you and was only in diapers when you started racing.

When you look at his riding style, that hasn't changed much. So, you have to look at the developement of the machines Sundahl rides and the technology he has put into them. ''If my riding style has changed, then it's been so gradual that I haven't noticed,'' he said. ''I think what keeps me competitive is developing new stuff for my bike. I am always trying to develop something new for the bike.

  There is always something that I am trying to make better.'' His new Banshee is fast enough to make your eyes water and has even the most experienced riders raving at how smooth it is. He sports 16 inches of travel in both the front and rear of the bike. He is currently changing over aluminum parts for ones made of carbon fiber, which he says is almost 60% lighter and stronger.

You can see it in his look, he is always thinking of some way to make his bike work better. ''My new bike is so much better. It's so smooth and works so well. But even though it works good, I still give every race 100% effort. And it's good exercise, too.'' To keep himself on the edge, Sundahl rides almost every weekend.

He sets aside each weekend to work on some aspect of the bike. If he thinks that the carburation is not right, then he spends the entire weekend fine-tuning the bike. If the suspension is not right, then he will work on the suspension for the whole weekend. ''One thing that really change the bike was the works performance shocks'', he said. ''Miracles happened when the shocks changed. It made even me go wow!''

Next, he would like to put fuel injection on his bike. He likes the way fuel injection works and has seen it in use on hill racers at Glamis. And he says that he has a few other top secret tricks up his sleeve. ''I've got some really new and different stuff that will make a big difference that I am developing. But they are top secret and I don't want to give my secrets away so that someone else tries to copy them!''

So, after more wins than he can remember, does he ever get tired of winning? ''No'', he says. Is the thrill still there? ''Yes''. And does he ever get butterflies on the starting line anymore? ''Nope, I just think about riding.''

When asked how long he will stay racing and when will he call it quits, his reply is, ''Do you have to ask such a question? I have no idea. It still feels great. I don't want to go there yet! I just go out there and ride and do the best that I can. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't do what I am doing now.'' See Ya' So what does the new millenium hold for this talented rider? ''Hopefully the same thing,'' he says. He would like to get into a car someday. A truck or class 10 car sounds fun to him. Also, the possibility of doing riding tours in Baja California, Mexico, appeals to him. And with the growing popularity of the internet, he says that he would like to market racing products over the web and thinks that the potential is unlimited.

In spite of his world travels, Sundahl still thinks that Southern California has the best riding in the world. Superstition, Plaster City and Glamis can't be beat as far as he is concerned. So, youngsters beware! If you think that you can beat this forty-something guy in his own backyard...think again. He has proved more than once that he is still champion and King of the Desert!


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