Dave Mungenast, Sr. was a leading enduro racer of the 1960s and ‘70s. He rode the International Six Days Trials (now called the ISDE) nine times in his career and earned six medals in the prestigious competition, including two golds as a member of the Club Team and a silver as part of the Triumph manufacturer's squad in 1973, when the competition was held in the United States for the first time. As a motorcycle dealer and owner of off-road riding areas, Mungenast continued to support off-road riding after his retirement from racing. He also sponsored numerous off-road racing events in his home state of Missouri.
Mungenast was born in St. Louis on October 1, 1934, and except for a stint in the Army, he always lived in the area. His start in motorcycling was inauspicious, to say the least. At the age of 16, he bought his first bike, a 1946 Indian Chief. Unfortunately, Mungenast crashed the bike on his way home. He recovered from that ill-fated ride and continued riding Indians through the 1940s.
By the early 1950s, Mungenast began riding off-road, partly out of necessity.
"Every time I’d go fast on the street, I’d get myself in trouble," Mungenast confessed. "I would get tickets or the police would chase me, so I thought maybe I could go fast in the dirt and no one would chase me."
Fortunately for the aspiring dirt rider, there were several places to ride near his home, including an abandoned quarry. Soon, Mungenast began competing in local off-road events and quickly moved from the big Indians to a more dirt-worthy bike – a BSA single.
"I’d ride my bike to the races and tape over the headlight and race," Mungenast recalls. "Those were the days before we discovered trailers, so it was pretty common back then."
Mungenast raced a little bit of everything – enduros, scrambles, TTs. He first attended the famous Jack Pine Enduro in Michigan as a spectator in the 1950s and began racing the event in the mid-1960s and won his class at the Jack Pine in 1965. Another big win for Mungenast was a popular 24-hour off-road reliability event held near his home at Riverdale Speedway. The race went on for several years and was given national status in 1964, and Mungenast won the race that year. Winning that event brought a lot of acclaim to Mungenast and helped him further his racing career.
In 1967, Mungenast went to Poland to race in the International Six Day Trial, the oldest international motorcycling competition. Riding a Husqvarna, Mungenast won a Club Team gold medal. Mungenast would go on to race in the prestigious international event for nine straight years, tallying two golds, two silvers and two bronzes.
Mungenast credits fellow ISDT competitor Leroy Winters as being a major influence.
"Winters took me under his wing," said Mungenast. "I had been a motorcycle mechanic, but at the ISDT Leroy showed me what it really took to prepare for a six-day, 1,000-mile race. He was undoubtedly the best prepared rider out there."
Of the nine ISDTs Mungenast competed in, he feels that the first event in Poland was perhaps the most memorable.
"Malcolm Smith started a position behind me that year and he told me he’s never seen someone crash so much and still finish. My bike looked like it had gone through a trash compactor. I thought I had to go out there and ride as fast as I could. It was later I learned that you had to pace yourself so you and the machine would last for six days. Despite all the crashes that first year, I made it through and managed to earn a gold."
By the late 1960s, Mungenast was focusing much more on his burgeoning motorcycle and car dealerships. From the shop’s humble beginnings, Mungenast’s businesses grew to include large automobile dealerships selling Toyota, Honda, Lexus and Acura. On the motorcycling side, his dealerships over the years have carried 11 brands.
Mungenast smiled at the thought of the evolution of his dealerships.
"My first shop was nothing more than a hole in the wall. You couldn’t even call it a Mom and Pop deal. It was more like just a Pop deal, it was so small."
The demands of business caused Mungenast to focus his racing efforts primarily on ISDT qualifiers through the early 1970s. By the mid-1970s, Mungenast retired from full-time racing. His son carried on his legacy by racing ISDT/ISDE for five years.
Towards the end of his career, his fellow riders often ribbed Mungenast for racing oddball machines, including the Rokon, an off-road motorcycle that featured an automatic transmission. Mungenast explained his tendency to ride something different from the norm.
"At the end of my career I finally started getting paid to race for the first time," Mungenast remembers. "It was ironic that the slower I got, the more I was getting paid to ride. So I did ride some strange machines in my later days, but it was great. I’d fly to the races and a mechanic was there waiting with the bike and all I had to do was ride."
After his racing career, Mungenast was asked to help do some motorcycle stunts for a movie and that led to a decade-long career working in the movies. His stunt work appeared in movies such as "Hooper" and "Cannonball Run," and he did all of this in his 40s. He retired from movie work at age 50 after one particularly grueling stunt session where he was forced to do a hard stunt over three times before the director was happy.
During the 1960s and ‘70s, Mungenast began sponsoring races and bought large tracts of land and created off-road riding areas. His off-road parks featured enduros, scrambles and motocross races and even hosted a motocross school taught by world motocross champion Rolf Tibblin.
Perhaps one of the most unique parts of Mungenast’s racing career was that he spanned three distinct eras of off-road motorcycling. He raced in the early days of converted Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles, through the British four-stroke invasion of the 1950s, and finally the two-stroke era that took off in the late-1960s.
Inducted in 2000