It has been a few weeks now since the UTV World Championship. I haven’t had much time to really decompress from what felt like a whirlwind couple of months leading up to the event. We switched gears right into the Mint 400 leaving me very little time to really sit down and think about what we had just put on in Laughlin. Since now both the UTVWC and The Mint 400 are done I thought it was time I put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keyboard and put my thoughts out there.
What we pulled off was nothing short of amazing. Before I get to far, it should be noted that the effort it took to put this event together was entirely a team effort. There is no way this event would have happened without the support and hard work and dedication from Matt & Josh Martelli at Mad Media. They are the most important factor into why this event looked and was so professional. Their years of experience with growing the Mint 400 were applied to this event and in the end what you saw was one of the most spectacular first year events ever in our sport. In addition, our teams at UTVUnderground.com, Mad Media and Best In The Desert worked tirelessly to put together something that would change the landscape surrounding the UTV race industry. I believe we did that.
The UTV World Championship idea was actually birthed many years ago. Ever since the last Soboba GP in 2012 we here at UTVUG had discussed what it would take and be like to actually host our very own race. We knew we could get the support from the race community, but its the logistics of actually planning the event and the time needed that had delayed us for all these years. We slowly would grow the idea and then last summer out of no where Matt Martelli comes to me and says “we are doing the UTVUnderground race and BITD is in to sanction it!”. Right then things got real and next thing you know we had a date. From there it was up to me to decide what kind of race this would be. I always envisioned a super event of sorts so naturally I wanted to bring short course and desert racing together. It had to have a land rush start and I wanted other things like a jump contest and big prizes to be involved. With the date selected we needed a name and we needed to act quick to get to promoting the event so racers and sponsors could add it to their calendar. The race was on, but only internally at that point.
To put on an event the likes of The Mint 400 it takes money, and lots of it! We knew we weren’t going to be The Mint 400 but we also knew that we had some expectations both on our side and on the sponsors and racers side. If UTVUnderground and Mad Media are going to partner on an event it had to be big. To put on a race you have to raise funds, there is no way we could fund this out of our own pocket so we had to build a plan and then go sell it. It took months to formulate our plan before we could talk to our first sponsor. Part of the planning was establishing the name of the event. We played with many options but ultimately settled on the UTV World Championship. To us this was a long term event. While we knew wouldn’t get every racer from the around the globe today, in the future we like to think this will be the premier event that racers from all over the world would want to be at to race and attend. The name stuck but now we needed a title sponsor.
Selling a sponsor on a first year event is not easy. Luckily for us we have a good reputation and a track record for delivering on our promises. Our word holds value and our track record was our leverage to get companies to believe in us. Polaris was the first big sponsor to respond to our proposal. Matt and I flew to MN and met with Polaris at their corporate facility. It was not an easy sell and at the time I left the meeting still unsure if they would commit or not. A couple of weeks later and after some small negotiations Polaris was on board to back our efforts. From there Randy Anderson at Walker Evans Racing jumped on board and we were off and running. We now had enough backing to start promoting and to start making our push towards putting on the sports biggest race event of all time. It wasn’t going to be easy but we knew we could do it.
Between us announcing the event and actually hosting it in February we had a ton of obligations to still fulfill that had nothing to do with the UTVWC. We had to still rollout our full XP1K2 campaign, attend and cover Camp RZR, multiple BITD events, the Baja 1000, SEMA, etc etc etc. In between all of those massive projects we had to start building the UTVWC. Time was not on our side but experience and hard work was. Together we drew up a plan, worked with sponsors, met with city officials in Laughlin, formulated a plan with BITD and began activating on our event marketing. I never knew how much time and effort this would take and believe me there were days when I thought we had bit off more than we could chew. I especially began to feel the pressure when sponsors began asking where they will vend, how to book hotel rooms, what the race rules were, how do they register, etc etc etc. It was a bit overwhelming at times and those were all of the things I never planned for in terms of the work load. I immediately grew a new appreciation for race promotors and what they do to build events that give people a place to have fun.
As we got into January of 2015 things really began to heat up. Every day we were on the phone or meeting to discuss onsite activation for Polaris and other sponsors. Our marketing began to ramp up and now it was all about making sure people knew about the event. In addition, we had to really work hard to make sure racers were actually going to attend. As time went on we knew were getting a good response from the race community so then our attention shifted to making sure fans were going to come. See, we didn’t build this event just for racers, we wanted this to blossom into an industry event where enthusiasts who may not even like racing would still want to come because it was the biggest thing happening in our sport. BITD worked with us to integrate the SXSPerformance Family Fun Poker Run which would give racers and enthusiasts a chance to see the race course from behind the wheel of their own machines. We had to work with Polaris on drawing up the plan for demo rides so that people who didn’t yet own a UTV could come out and experience one for their first time. We had parties to plan and merchandise to design. The devil is in the details, while I was spinning in circles mentally, the Martelli Brothers were keeping me calm and showing me the way.
For the UTV World Championship we wanted people to have an opportunity to take home a piece of merchandise that could commemorate the event. Event t-shirts and hats are the norm at every event you go to but I had no idea just how much time and money would go into just that phase of the UTVWC. We also knew we wanted racers to come away with some cool gifts and UTVUG needed to have fresh new gear to represent our brand as well. In total we would create almost 15 new items including shirts, hoodies, hats, beanies, bags, patches, posters and magazines. Tens of thousands of dollars would be poured into merchandise alone! To make all of this happen we hired a new hand at UTVUnderground & Mad Media. He goes by the name of Carter and if you ever meet him you will instantly see why we had to have him as part of our team. No one understands branding and merchandising better than he and combined with our friend Todd Davis at Active Screen Printing, we had the ultimate merch team in place. All I had to do was help approve some sick designs from Mad Media and Carter and Todd did the rest.
We have become known for our video and photo content and so there was no way people were going to expect us to not produce some amazing content from our own event. Part of our program for the Polaris RZR UTV World Championship would be us building out a hour long TV show that would document the races. This show will air at a later date and we can’t wait to produce a show that helps people understand just how strong the UTV race culture is. Yours truly also will host a half hour show on Destination Polaris which airs on Fox Sports from this years event that will also air at a later date. In the mean time the team is cutting 3 web edits that will highlight each of the 3 races held at the UTV World Championship, the Walker Evans Racing Desert Championship, the Holz Racing Products Production Championship, and the Youth Production 170 Championship. These pieces will begin dropping in the coming weeks.
With the foundation of the event in place and our onsite activation ready to roll out it was time to ramp up our online marketing to make sure everyone was ready for the biggest race to ever hit our sport. We began heavily promoting sponsors, racers and the event schedule and as we neared the event the buzz began to echo around the world. Sponsors and racers were committing to join the event up until days before, the response from our community was everything I could have ever dreamed up. Now it was up to us to execute our plan!
Our team of over 60 personnel would began our move into Laughlin on Tuesday of that week. BITD and our crew at Off Road Management Group would already be at the track working on the layout, course marking and trackside logistics. Our TV production had begun weeks prior with some private filming with a few select competitors but onsite our team would go into action with filming what they call b-roll as the event began to kick off. On Thursday we would pop off our first event of the UTVWC, the Business to Business Summit. Here is where we would bring all of the players in the industry together to have a meeting of the minds to discuss the current state of the UTV industry and where we want the industry to go. This part of the event was important for us as we want to use the UTVWC as a platform to not only grow the sport from the race and enthusiast side but also from the business side. We hope that one day the summit is as important for the industry as the race itself. The summit this year was amazing and we know next year will be even better. While we were meeting in the Summit our team outside was moving in the 50+ vendors in preparation for Friday’s massive tech and contingency party.
With the work for the day complete, it was time to put on our first party. Each night of the event we would all gather to have some food and drinks at our good friend Guy Fieri’s Restaurant. It was a coincidence that after we selected Harrah’s as our host hotel that we found out that Guy Fieri would be opening a restaurant inside of Harrah’s in time for the UTVWC. Naturally we worked with hotel and Guy’s staff to plan parties for each night at his place. As Guy would say, the food and drinks were “off the hook” and everyone had a great time. I would like to note, we did so good that every night was a record breaking night for the restaurant. To say Guy and his staff were pleased with the UTV community is an understatement. Guy wanted me to express his personal thanks to all of you who supported the parties there.
As the sun came up on Friday our production team was meeting and ready to start filming for our TV shows. While I was out hosting TV, our staff was starting to move racers and sponsors into line at contingency, people were heading into Harrah’s for racer registration and everyone was getting ready for the SXSPerformance Family Fun Poker Run. Now, no event comes without its fair share of problems and mishaps. While we run a well oiled machine, we did have some growing pains. Most were good problems to have such as not enough room for as many sponsors as we wanted to have at tech and contingency. But one issue that hit us unexpectedly was the decision to cap our entries for the Poker Run. As registration for the poker run kicked off we found out that the BLM had changed our permit to only allow for around 55 entires. This threw all of us for a loop including people who were planning to register onsite. We immediately rushed out to the track to work with BITD and BLM to correct the issue which they ended up doing. Unfortunately before we could get the decision overturned we had lost a lot of people who left thinking they would not be allowed to participate. This was a huge let down for us and while we still had well over 100 vehicles participate we knew we had let a few people down and that wasn’t ok with us. For that we apologize. In the end the SXSPerformance Family Fun Poker Run went off and everyone had a great time, me included. We gave away over $6000 in prizes to participants and we learned a lot for how we want to handle this part of the event next year.
Tech and Contingency was a massive success. Everyone we spoke too said they had a great time and it was by far the biggest tech party any UTV race event had ever had. Of course Baja and the Mint 400 is bigger, but this one rivaled any of those and for being a UTV only event it was certainly a big and successful part of the event. Going into the drivers meeting that night we would find out that we would have over 120 UTVs entered into the first annual Polaris RZR UTV World Championship Presented by UTVUnderground.com. The drivers meeting was awesome, it was packed and it was really exciting seeing all of the UTV racers so stoked on the race that next day. After a passionate speech by Robert Blanton of Warfighter Made, the drivers and staff split off to prepare for an early morning at the track and a full day of exciting racing.
With all the pre event festivities out of the way it was time for only one thing and that was competition! Bikes and ATVs would kick the race day off with a 6am start and would get the race day underway. A lot of people, including the bike and ATV racers wondered why they were included in the UTV World Championship. When we first laid out our plans for the race it was obviously a UTV only event. However, BITD who sanctioned the race had already locked in a permit for the weekend in Laughlin. They explained to us that they would like to allow the bikes to compete in our event so that they didn’t have to eliminate one of their races. We signed off on the decision and thought this would only be beneficial for both sides. On one end the bike racers get to retain one more race weekend on their schedule and for us we would have more people attending the race who may in the future decide to race in the UTV class. While I take personally responsibility for not having more exposure for the bikes involved, I do want to make it clear that we were happy to have them and would be happy to have them again. If they choose to have bikes with our event in the future we will do more to try and reward these competitors like we did with our UTV racers.
The first UTVs would line up at around 9am on Saturday. As the last of the bikes finished the first race for UTVs would stage and get ready to take off on one of the years most exciting courses. The Walker Evans Racing Desert Championship would start with a dead engine land rush that forced racers to fire their engines and head off into the first corner 15 cars wide! With almost 60 vehicles the start allowed for one of the most exciting starts in the history of UTV racing. The desert racers were very skeptical over how this start would work. They are used to starting either side by side or one at a time, not in land rush format with 15+ vehicles. In the end racers held their lines and no one crashed as many feared would happen. The race would go on for about 4 hours, many would succumb to mechanical failure and others would charge through the unrelenting dust and terrain to finish the race in style. Areas of the course like the FOX Proving Grounds were filled with media and the course infield was packed with spectators. Winners were awarded with a massive amount of gifts and prizes including cash payback from BITD. In the end it would be Brandon Sims in his Lone Star Racing Polaris RZR who would take home the win and the ultimate prize, a brand new 2015 Polaris RZR XP1000!
As the desert championship wrapped up racers in the next competition would begin to stage. But this was no ordinary class of UTV racers. Staying true to the sport we wanted to include a youth class where we could put on display the future of off-road racing. What we ended up with were 12 Youth Production RZR 170 racers who would get their first taste of what it was like to compete in the big leagues. They too would land rush start and would race for 30 minutes, putting on an exciting display of racing. It was a highlight for me and for most who witnessed the action that these youths ages 12 and under displayed such amazing skills and determination. One racer stole the show and earned his spot in UTV racing history. Young gun Seth Quintero in his Magnum Offroad built Polaris RZR 170 would lap the competition and forever put his name in the books as the first ever Production 170 Champion at the Polaris RZR UTV World Championship. I still think Seth is floating on a cloud and his win is still paying off as he and his family got to enjoy a weekend of fun as guests of UTVUnderground and The Mint 400 in Las Vegas at The Mint 400 race event. Seth displayed his race winning RZR front and center on Fremont St. during the Mint’s epic contingency and was able to tell his story to fans and racers alike. He got to meet some of his own racing idols and was able to gather a lot of great words of encouragement from these pros.
With the youth race complete it was time to unleash the Holz Racing Products Production Championship race. Over 60 of the sports fastest production UTV racers from WORCS, GNCC and BITD would like up to take on this epic 10 lap battle. The fans lined the fences and with the drop of the green flag, racers shot off into turn one in land rush rows of 15 UTVs at a time. By now the sun was hot, the track dry and the tensions high. The dust was engulfing and the racers quickly realized this was no ordinary short course MX race. This was the Polaris RZR UTV World Championship and they were going to have to earn the glory that was waiting for them at the finish line. After what seemed like hours of exciting door to door racing and numerous lead changes the winning UTV would cross the line. Privateer racer Jacob Shaw in his Magnum Offroad Polaris RZR would take the win and his prize, a brand new 2015 Polaris RZR XP1000. Finishers from 2nd to 10th place would also take home some awesome cash and prizes.
With racing complete we only had about an hour to clean up and get down to the beach to host our UTVWC awards ceremony. Here we would give the top 3 in every class an awesome UTVWC trophy made our of pure billet by UTV Inc. In addition we passed out over $100K in cash and prizes to winners and finishers including the 2 Polaris RZR Xp1000’s that went to Jake Shaw and Branden Sims. Some special awards were given including the Warfighter Made Perseverance Award and the UTVUnderground Hard Charger Award which was given to paralyzed competitor Josh Frederick whom competed in his newly finished Holz Racing Products Polaris RZR. Dalton sponsored 2 fast lap awards and we also had the FOX Big Air Award. In the end we celebrated an amazing end to a fantastic event with friends, fans, family and racers!
Looking back on the event its hard to summarize it all. The story I have told is only a small part of what actually happened that weekend in Laughlin, NV. The impact we made will only be visible over time but in the weeks following the event we have been given much praise by all who were involved. The tiring efforts put out by our team was nothing short of remarkable and the reward was well worth the risk we took in taking on this massive challenge. We wanted to give racers and this sport an event that showed where this sport is today, we wanted racers to be treated like the professionals they are and we wanted to show everyone that UTVUnderground.com is not just about covering events, posting stories or videos but is actually in place to help push this sport into areas that until now we didn’t know we could go. So if I summarize the event I guess I would call it the coming out party for UTVs. If UTV racing wasn’t on the map prior to the UTVWC, it is now and it will be forever.
Thank you to every single person who attended and participated in this historic happening. Everyone of you matter whether you are a racer, sponsor, fan, team member, staff member, city official, trackside volunteer or vendor. We could not have done this without all of you so on behalf of myself, Josh & Matt Martelli and our entire teams at UTVUnderground and Mad Media we thank you with our upmost respect. To BITD, while it was not easy we appreciate all of your efforts in ensuring racers were safe and that all in attendance had a good time. We can’t thank Casey Folks and his staff at BITD enough for all that they did. Last but not least, I need to say thank you to Polaris RZR and to each and every sponsor who supported this event. You guys believed in us, you supported us and you came out and activated to ensure that our event was as successful as it could be. Do not think for one minute I don’t look back on this event and appreicate what you guys did. So to all of you, thank you!
We hope everyone had a great time, and I sincerely mean it when I say that I can’t wait to see you all again in Laughlin, NV for the 2016 UTV World Championship!! We promise it will be bigger and better than 2015, if you can imagine that…
Until next year…
Words By: Joey DiGiovanni // UTVUnderground.com
Photos By: Vincent Knakal, Ernesto Araiza, Sebastian Krywult, JDM Photos, and Dennis Cox
See more coverage from The UTV World ChampionshipCLICK HERE
While the West Coast UTV crowd was flocking to the Nevada desert for the 2015 Polaris RZR Mint 400, UTV racers on the East Coast were headed to Washington, GA for round 2 of the 2015 GNCC race season.
The Maxxis General is held at Aonia Pass MX Park and this weekends event was calling for rain, which at Aonia means MUD. 77 UTVs spread out amongst 5 classes would line up to take on The General. It would be a wet and muddy day of racing but that didn’t stop top racers from putting their brand new UTVs on the line.
It would end up being a great day for Can-Am as Treavis Poynter in the #591 Wicked Bilt Can-Am Maverick would take home the win in the premier XC1 Pro class and Joe Kroelich in the #075 Racer Tech Can-Am Maverick would win the XC2 Pro Sport class.
UTVUnderground.com wants to thank all of the GNCC racers and their teams who represented UTVUG on and off the track this weekend in Georgia. We really appreciate it and hope to see you all soon!
They call it the Great American Off-Road Race and I don’t know if there is a better phrase that describes The Polaris RZR Mint 400 Presented By General Tire. Its history, its pageantry, its attendance, everything about this race is bigger and better. You can make an argument for the Baja 1000 and Dakar Rally, of course King Of The Hammers, but if you actually attend The Mint 400, I don’t think you can deny that it is in fact one of the most amazing race events in the world. What The Martelli Brothers have done over the past 4 years since owning this event is nothing short of remarkable. They have not only raised the bar from an off-road promotors standpoint, they also have set a standard that few promotors in our sport today can match.
Las Vegas, NV is the host city of the famous Mint 400. The Mint 400 was started back in 1967 and there has been a few small gaps since then when the race wasn’t held, but overall its a yearly event and most recently had brought back the days of old when glitz and glamour accompanied the grit and roughness of off-road racing. The Mint 400 is much more than just a race, its a spectacle. Complete with celebrities and the sports biggest names, the industries biggest brands and of course the worlds biggest stage, the Mint 400 is the Daytona 500 of off-road racing.
330 total vehicles would pre register to stake their claim on racing the biggest race of the year. A waiting list of almost 100 racers would soon form. Pro tip: If you plan to race The Mint 400 next year, get your entry in ASAP! Do not wait! Racers and Teams began arriving as early as last Monday. Many came in Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning as they did not want to miss out on being part of the Mint 400 vehicle parade which took over 100 of the events race vehicles and paraded them down the Las Vegas Strip. I was fortunate enough to be able to drive the 1948 Monster Energy / SXSPerformance Polaris RZR in the parade with our friend Mike Lasher. It was an amazing thing to be a part of and a memory I will not soon forget.
Thursday gets rolling with unlimited race qualifying out at Primm, NV otherwise known as State-line. This is where the race will actually start and finish on Saturday, but for qualifying Best In The Desert (BITD) who sanctions the event, has laid out a 3 mile qualifying loop where Trick Trucks and Class 1 buggies will compete to determine their starting positions for Saturdays main event. It takes a few hours to run the 100+ vehicles through the 3 mile loop. Its action packed and due to the way The Martelli’s have designed their new Start / Finish area, more spectators were apart of this qualifying session then ever before. Once qualifying was complete, racers and their teams headed back to downtown Las Vegas where the evenings events consisted of announcing the qualifying order for the race, the famed Miss Mint crowning, and the coveted Mint 400 Pit-Crew Challenge! It all culminated with an epic party surrounding a stage that rivaled any major musical performers stage. The Mint 400 was well underway and it wasn’t even the weekend yet!
Contingency and Technical Inspection is held on Friday in Downtown Las Vegas on Fremont St. This to me is what The Mint 400 is all about. You have the backdrop of one of the most iconic streets in American Culture, mixed with the worlds most advanced off-road vehicles all wrapped up into one of the sports most historic and well publicized events. There is something special about bringing off-road racing to such an epicenter for tourism and vacation. It is one of the few events where worlds literally collide as you bring in the bulk of the off-road racing community from racers and teams, to sponsors and fans and then thrust them into an area that is already exploding with people who have flocked to Las Vegas for a little fun in the sun. These people with their beaded shamrock necklaces holding a 2 foot long daiquiri intertwine with the off-road regulars who are not only soaking up the fun but also preparing for one of the most grueling races they will compete in all year. However, the risk is always worth the reward as it pertains to The Mint 400, as their slogan this year has been “To The Victor, Go The Spoils”. For the entire day on Friday racers will push their race vehicles a mile down Fremont St. where the sports biggest brands and companies line the route. Its a site to see and its definitely one of the most recognizable parts of The Mint 400. Friday ends with a drivers meeting back at the Golden Nugget.
Just being a part of the event as a racer makes attending worth it. Of course everyone wants to do well on race day, but its hard to deny the fun you and your team as well as the exposure you receive from being a part of The Mint 400. Over 200 media outlets descend on Las Vegas to cover The Mint 400. From local radio and television to major sporting outlets like ESPN. Of course the who’s who of off-road journalism and media are in attendance but so are some very main stream publications and production companies like TIME and NBC. Mad Media, owned and operated by The Martelli Brothers was on hand with over 100 production staff to shoot and produce a total of 4.5 hours of television surround this years race alone! A 2 hour show for the Red Bull Signature Series on NBC which highlights the event and the Unlimited Race, a 2 hour doc style show which will showcase the event and give a more in depth look into racers and what it takes to compete and take on an event like The Mint 400. This shows air date and location is still TBD. Lastly, Mad Media also worked with us here at UTVUnderground.com to produce a 30 minute show for Destination Polaris which airs on Fox Sports 1. Yours truly plays host and takes you through the weeks events. I had a blast doing it and working with Mad Media is always fun. Outside of television the race is covered live on the web via social media and our sister site Race-Dezert.com.
Saturday is when the business side of things kicks in. Limited race classes begin to stage at 5am before being paraded to the start finish line. The first limited vehicles, which this year was Class 10, took off into the dark to kick off this years Mint 400 promptly at 6am. 2 by 2 vehicles raced through the existing short course off-road track and out into one of the most brutal race courses in our sport. For us, we are there to cover UTVs. We have worked hard to get UTVs into The Mint 400. This is year 3 that UTVs have been included in this race event. In these short 3 years the UTV class has grown into the biggest class in the race with over 60 total UTVs competing. The 56+ Pro UTVs make up one of the most competitive classes in the sport and in this race. With Polaris RZR as the title sponsor of The Mint 400, its hard to deny the impact this class is having not just on this race but on the sport in general. We are proud to be part of this movement and have been thrilled with the way racers, sponsors and fans have responded to the opportunities presented to them.
As UTVs left the start line you could see the sun begin to rise over the horizon. With the lifting sun in the distance you could also see the settling dust that covered the course. Flashing blue lights and the bright glow of headlights bounced around as racers set off onto their long 300+ mile journey. Before the last UTV was even off the line, some in front were already calling in for extraction. The race course was already beating many of the races valiant competitors into submission, but for some, the battle was just getting good and they intend on finishing what they started!
2015 UTV World Championship winner Branden Sims in the 1913 Polaris RZR was their first UTV into the desert. Johnny Angal in the 1921 Polaris RZR was not far behind and it did not take Angal long to make his way up to Sims. The 2 would battle it out through the first lap arriving into the main pit near the end of lap one running nose to tail. Johnny would exit first as Sims crew worked to replace a severely broken rear exhaust. Ironically the team was told to grab a stock exhaust system from a stock RZR XP1000 which sat in front of the teams pits. It was later realized it was one of our Media UTVs that they tore apart to get their machine back in the race. We laughed it off as they replaced it with another stock exhaust but it wasn’t long after before another team was asking to borrow an axle from this same machine. We quickly realized that one of our RZRs had turned into a pit parts car and we had to get it out of there before someone needed an engine!
As Angal headed out onto lap 2 he was enjoying a massive lead. Nothing but time was between him and the second place machine at this point. Multiple vehicles would begin their chase of Johnny Angal before Branden Sims would finally make it out of main pit. The stop all but ruined Sims’ chance at winning this years race.
While enjoying a physical lead is nice and beneficial, it doesn’t always mean you are the actual race leader. Due to the size of the class and the way BITD handles their tracking, a racer leaving the line way back in 50th position could actually begin to lead the race while still actually running in the mid pack physically. After lap 2 we would realize that Branden Schueler in the 1919 Jagged X Polaris RZR was actually the race leader even though he was somewhere around the 10th vehicle on course. Running neck and neck with Schueler and Angal on time was RJ Anderson who was driving the 1934 Coastal Racing Polaris RZR in place of Scott Kiger. Keith Redstrom was filling in the 1931 Jagged X Polaris RZR for an ill Craig Scanlon and he was doing fantastic as well. A mechanical would end the chances of the 1931 placing on the podium but at one point they had moved into the top 3 on time and were making up ground.
While everyone at the start/finish line and in the pits was talking about these teams mentioned above, their was one team that was quickly making a run to the front and was doing so without any attention being paid to them. The 1978 S3 Powersports Turbo Can-Am Maverick of Dustin Jones was running fast and strong. With each lap they got quicker and this team from Louisiana who was running in only their 3rd desert race ever was quickly opening the eyes of the competition and those of us following the race with intensity. As they barreled out onto the course for their 3rd lap people began to wonder, did they have what it took to bring that new race machine to the front and could anyone catch Angal who was absolutely checked out? Only time would tell.
While the race was heating up, for some it was ending in total failure. While racing with The Mint 400 television helicopter hovering above them, the 1906 Polaris RZR would collide with the 1911 Polaris RZR of Brian Bush. Both racers were running wide open, helicopter above capturing the moments when the 1906 tried to make a pass but instead clipped the 1911’s rear driver side tire sending the 1906 into a violent and scary tumble. The pass was made while rolling stated brian Bush who struggled to get the 1911 back to the pits for repair. The collision not only took the 1906 out of the race, it wounded the 1911 pretty bad. While Bush was able to get back out on course and finish the race, the 1906 would succumb to the dreaded DNF. Fortunately we were told both driver and co-driver were ok but it should be mentioned that Bush who pulled over following the incident, exited their own vehicle and ran to assist the 1906 who looked to possibly be catching fire. This sportsmanship caused further delay in their return to the track but showed what this class and what these racers are all about.
With less than 20 miles to go in the race Johnny Angal in the 1921 Polaris RZR had now led for almost the entire duration of battle. He was enjoying a comfortable lead both physically and on time despite the hard efforts being made by RJ Anderson in the 1934 Polaris RZR and Brandon Schueler in the 1919 Polaris RZR. At the finish line the talk was who would be 2nd and 3rd place, we had all but given the race to Angal considering just how much he was dominating the race. But then disaster struck. With only miles to go, Angal would be stopped for a brief stop / check on the race course by officials at a road crossing. There his RZR would stop and it would be hours before it would ever move again. The seemingly un beatable 1921 Polaris RZR would suffer catastrophic transmission failure which would force Angal to repair the vehicle to finish, which he did, but would also force him to relinquish his lead.
RJ Anderson quickly jumped into the race lead on time with Branden Sims, Ryan Poelman and Dustin Jones all battling it out. But before we could even see RJ near the finish we would hear that he had suffered a rear tire puncture. He wasn’t stopping to fix it, he was going to race on it to the finish but this was not going to be enough to hold off the now hard charging Dustin Jones on time. Jones who was now the first physical UTV course would come flying across the start / finish line jump just praying that his time was good enough to hold off the still moving RJ Anderson, the fast Ryan Poelman and the returning champion Brandon Schueler.
It would be the Polaris RZR of Ryan Poelman who would cross the line next, quickly followed by RJ Anderson and then Brandon Schueler. These drivers all sat in line, intensely waiting for news on time. I ran back into the tent to see what I can calculate. Race-Dezert’s Klaus Rasch worked quickly to help me determine what the unofficial timing order would shake out as. It was then we realized that Dustin Jones in the 1978 S3 Powersports Turbo Can-Am Maverick had held off RJ Anderson by 2 minutes to claim victory of the 2015 Polaris RZR Mint 400 Presented by General Tire. RJ Anderson who started deep in the back of the field put on a clinic and made everyone wish we could see more of RJ in the desert. What he did with that Polaris RZR was nothing short of remarkable considering how many vehicles he had to pass and how much dust they all were contending with. Ryan Poelman, a young kid from Las Vegas who’s dad is no stranger to the Trick Truck Class also put on a hell of a performance in his Cognito Motorsports built Polaris RZR. The kid with Supercross.com on the side of his RZR made a lot of people realize that they are not a team to be overlooked. Their performance in Parker was impressive but this Mint 400 finish puts them on the map as one of the teams to beat at any race event they enter.
The returning Mint 400 race winner and 2014 season champion, Brandon Schueler in the 1919 Jagged X Polaris RZR would be the first finisher just off the podium in 4th place. Schueler is the most winning UTV desert racer of all time and is a threat to win at any time. As for Angal in the 1921, he got another taste of the bitter side of off-road racing. The 2014 Baja 1000 champion has staked his claim as one of the classes fastest racers. He drives a pace that forces others to really step their game up because if he doesn’t have a failure he will win. Unfortunately for him, when you play with fire sometimes you get burned and thats what happened on this dusty March day in Primm Valley. Angal will be back, and he will be ready to race, and we are sure he will redeem himself. But lets not lose site of the grit he showed by still finishing the race. Many would have called it quits, he and his team did not and for that we salute them and their efforts and the performance he put on as race leader for so long during the 2015 Mint 400 race.
Dustin Jones is a name that many did not even think twice about considering as a favorite for this years race. His hole-shot at the UTV World Championship was enough to let people know that the Turbo Can-Am Maverick was in fact as fast as many thought it could be, but no one expected this rookie off-road racer from Louisiana to come out and put on the performance that he did here at The Mint 400. You would be hard pressed to find a nicer group of guys competing in the entire sport of off-road racing. Hell, my own wife is in love with Dustin because of his southern accent, charming personality and rockstar good looks. But I soon think there will be a lot of sponsors in love with this racer and his team because of their performance, respect and commitment to doing well. Is this a one time, beginners luck type of win? We don’t really know. But what I do know is that guys like Dustin Jones rarely fail at anything they do because they don’t just show up to win, they show up to have a good time, they show up to be stewards of the sport and representatives of their company and they show up to compete from start to finish in the best way they know how. They may have been the mud boys from Louisiana coming into The Mint 400, but they left off-road racers. And they headed back to Louisiana as winners!
Congrats to everyone who entered, attended, finished and won this years Polaris RZR Mint 400. We had a fantastic time celebrating with you all and we really look forward to seeing just how far we can keep pushing this sport with the UTV World Championship and Mint 400 platforms. Huge thank you goes out to Polaris RZR for stepping up to sponsor this years event and help us all put on one of the most epic races of all time. Polaris isn’t just sitting back and letting others do the work of growing this sport for them, they are getting their hands dirty along side all of us, asking how they can help more and in return doing everything they can to ensure that UTV racing stays on the map. Lastly, thank you to everyone who represents UTVUnderground.com on and off the track. Without your support there is no way we could be taking this little ol’ website to the places it has gone and is going. Your support is never overlooked and we are forever grateful.
In closing I want to extend a heartfelt get well to the racers injured in the afternoon race this year. We pray for you and your families and hope for a speedy and full recovery. It was great to hear that there has already been significant progress and that both racers are ok and alert.
Until next time….
Editors Note:While we try to cover everyone, show everyone’s photos and give everyone the respect they do deserve for competing in any race, it is very difficult for us to track all the stories. Over 60 UTVs entered this race, that means hundreds of stories and as much as we would like to tell them all we just don’t have the capacity to do so. With that said, if you don’t see your photos or your name or team do not take it personal. We do appreciate you all and we do respect all of you. Feel free to submit a story to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to run it in our forum or maybe even on our homepage.
Words by: Joey DiGiovanni // UTVUnderground.com Photos by: Vincent Knakal, Brooke LaValley, Ernesto Araiza // UTVUnderground.com – Mad Media
The 2015 Mint 400 Limited and UTV race has come to an end! The drivers pushed their machines to the limit for over 7 hours in the harsh Nevada desert for the prize money, their sponsors, but most of all, for bragging rights. Over 330 miles later, Dustin Jones and Shane Dowden crossed the finish line first on corrected time in their first ever Mint 400.
The race started early in the morning, HIDs and LED lightbars shining like stars on the pale sand of Primm. Johnny Angal and Branden Sims jumped out early at the start and were having a fantastic battle. Unfortunately Sims would have an issue that caused him to drop way back. Johnny Angal in the UTVinc RZR then took off to a commanding lead that he would hold for the majority of the race, keeping up a blistering pace all the way to the very end where he would suffer a mechanical failure. More specifics to come!
With Johnny broken down less than 20 miles from the finish the race was all of a sudden up for grabs again. S3 Powersports had been hauling the mail and maintaining 2nd physical position on the course all day and they seized the opportunity to make up ground. Running hard but smart, they clicked off the miles to the finish, never certain they had the lead on corrected time. This win is made all the more special for the S3 Powersports boys from Louisiana because it was one of their first BITD events and their very first Mint 400.
The #1934 of Coastal racing also put together a remarkable run. Starting from the very back of the nearly-50-vehicle Pro UTV field , drivers RJ Anderson and Larry Job never let the thought of failure enter their minds. They picked off racers one at a time in their Polaris RZR XP1000, working all the way up to second place on corrected time! Making this feat even more remarkable,the team was running a completely stock motor and transmission for this race, putting them at a power disadvantage vs.many of their competitors.
Third place (2nd place physical) went to Ryan Poelman in the Supercross.com #1962 Polaris RZR after a great run, staying focused and keeping up the pace all day helped him grab the final podium spot. The top 4 UTV racers ended up finishing less than ten minutes apart, highlighting the level of competition in the Mint 400’s largest class. Check out the photos and results below!
1. Dustin Jones, Shane Dowden
2. RJ Anderson, Larry Job
3. Ryan Poelman
4. Brandon Schueler
5. Jeff Obering
6. Justin Lambert
7. Wes Miller, Tommy Scranton
8. Mike Cafro, Jamie Kirkpatrick
9. Cody Nygren,
10. Jason Murray, Derek Murray
*Results are unofficial at this time and do not include any penalties etc. Official results story is forthcoming.
Words By: Jake Yubeta // UTVUnderground.com
Photos By: Brooke LaValley and Bryan Novak // UTVUnderground.com
Tech and Contingency for the Mint 400 is always an event in and of its self. With the unique backdrop of Fremont street and one of the most impressive vendor turnouts in off-road racing,spectators have enough to look at to keep them busy for a couple days. Luckily we’ve got you covered with some awesome photos of the UTV guys holding it down! Enjoy!
The Southern boys from S3 Power Sports teamed up with 77 Twelve Media to put together the first installment of the “Visions of Victory” series. As outsiders to the Best In the Desert race series, the guys at S3 racing travel from Louisiana to compete vs. the best desert racers in the country, with their fully in house fabricated UTVs. Follow the team as they cover contingency, the new build they just completed for us here at UTVUndergound and their drive in the inaugural UTV World Championship. This series offers a unique inside look at what it takes to go UTV racing at the professional level. Watch the video and check out the photo gallery of S3’s races so far this year!
Video By: 77 Twelve Media
Photos By: Ernesto Araiza and Vincent Knakal // UTVUnderground
Rounds 2 & 3 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Southern California Regional Series WENT OFF this past weekend. Over 200 racers came to compete at the weekends 2 round race event.
Of course the UTVs came out in full force with #UTVUGRACETEAM drivers laying down some amazing laps and taking home some well deserved hardware! Check the full results in the links below and huge thank you to everyone who is at the track representing UTVUnderground.com!! We appreciate it a ton!!
When we first decided to build our 2015 Polaris ACE 570, we were going for a play vehicle design. We never intended on racing it. If anything it would be a fun camp cruiser and / or machine for us to get around race pits with. We even took it with us to film XP1K2 and used it as a chase car with a camera mounted to it. Then someone told us they were thinking of racing these at the WORCS series and our wheels began to turn. Next thing you know Polaris was giving us their blessing to support us with a factory backed effort and we were working a deal to sign Ronnie Anderson, younger brother of XP1K star RJ Anderson, to be our driver. A couple quick calls to Randy Anderson at Walker Evans Racing and we had a full on Polaris Ace 570 race car ready to run at the 2015 WORCS Racing Season.
Carr-One had already done the fab work, Walker Evans had already dialed us in with shocks and wheels and so all we needed were a few small things and we were all set to race. The platform and class was perfect for Ronnie because he is also racing his RZR Xp1000 at the series so the Ace gives him a chance to compete in a class that races before his 1000 class runs thus allowing him some additional seat time on the track. It also allows for Walker Evans Racing to work on their shock package for the Ace which now they have perfected.
While we don’t really need a light bar for racing at WORCS, Vision X had already hooked us up so we decided to leave it on so Ronnie could blind the competition for fun! haha
Ronnie is sponsored by GBC Motorsports so they also dialed in our Ace with a fresh set of 25″ Dirt Commander tires which work perfectly for racing the Ace in all conditions.
Power wise we are still stock, we have played with clutching a little and are now looking to start adding some power adders to the little engine that could. Don’t be fooled by this little machine, once its hammered down she can run and Ronnie has proven that by hole-shotting almost every race so far this season.
The Ace is a perfect machine for youth drivers or the new driver to the sport. Priced under $10K its also an affordable option for anyone looking to get into the UTV game without breaking the bank. We love this little Ace and we think this new platform is only going to get bigger in popularity. I suspect it won’t be long before other OEMs start playing with the concept and introducing single seat vehicles of their own.
Taking On the Biggest Race In The Smallest Machine
Somewhere in the Atacama desert I sat up on a deserted ridge looking down at a little red dot kicking up a little tail of dust. It was so small it was almost insignificant against the epic Andean landscape. But then a much bigger and faster blue and white dot quickly caught up with the red one, blasted past and completely enveloped it in a huge cloud of dust. The Polaris RZR had slowed down for a small ditch that wound across the trail, the Kamaz (big huge utility truck) hadn’t and was even from my distant vantage point I could see that the truck was in the air when it overtook. A few moments later when the dust had cleared the RZR started again. I shook my head and sat there wondering what it would be like to have a 10 ton truck overtake you in the air, and why someone would want to put themselves through such an experience.
A few days later I caught up with driver Jes Munk from Denmark for an interview, exclusively for UTVUnderground.com and he explained why he was behind the wheel of a Polaris. “Because my wife forbade me from riding bikes anymore,” he shrugged. It might seem a bit of a harsh and controlling thing to demand but while preparing for a French enduro event a couple of years ago Jes crashed… In a car accident you damage mechanical components but bikers don’t have such luxuries as rollcages, race seats and 5-point harnesses. When a rider crashes its bones that are broken. This fall broke 60 and for 12 days he lay in a coma with massive damage to the liver, kidneys and lungs. “My wife had to watch me lying there in the hospital and she decided she’d had enough. Too many broken bones, too many dead friends. But I knew I wouldn’t stop rallying! It’s just too addictive. The recovery started in the hospital where I lay in bed bending one finger at a time, to learning how to walk again and then I got up to doing triathlons… and then to the Dakar again. I just had to. There was no alternative. But I had to make a compromise with my wife, which is why I wasn’t on the bike this time. For a while I had no idea what I could do but then I met Marco Piana, the boss of the Polaris Xtreme+ factory team. He is half Italian and half French which is absolutely the worst combination, but for the Dakar you need a lot of support and the Polaris is halfway between a bike and a car and straight away I was surprised about just how much fun it was to drive, so I signed up. My wife still wasn’t happy but you can’t break any bones when you have a roll-cage around you, right? Well…”
Training for the Dakar isn’t just spending a couple of days out in the dunes, it’s such a massive rally that whole events serve as a shakedown for it but in FIA World Cup events like the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Spanish Baja, Jes learned that a Polaris is not so similar to a bike. “You can ride a bike much harder than you can drive a car. Going fast on four wheels is all about flow, not just slamming your foot down after every corner but it took me quite a while to really learn that. I was snapping 3 belts in a stage, getting two punctures and even killing the whole engine but in Morocco I finally began to understand. I won that race, although I have to admit that the competition wasn’t so strong… but an argument over a dune with another driver caused another broken bone. In the wrist. 10 screws and a plate, 5 weeks before the start of the Dakar, which was definitely not the best preparation. I got the cast off the day before I left to go to Buenos Aires. I’ve had worse so it didn’t really affect me and it wasn’t a weak arm that was the problem at the start of the event, it was just that the stages were crazy hard!
The first one was just a quick prologue, but the second was maybe the hardest stage I have ever done in my life. It was 585km long but there is a type of soft sand that is like talcum powder, called fesh fesh. You hear the top drivers talk about it but actually it’s OK for them because it’s a bit like mud, the first ones through don’t have too much trouble, but when 100 cars have tried to go through it’s impossible. Impassable. You couldn’t just steer around it because the ground was covered in hundreds of thick bushes that rip your tires to pieces… which is what happened to us. Every tyre was flat! It was a 60km long section and that day it was 50C so we had to stop for 10 minutes to let the engine cool down then go again for another 10 minutes, but I come from bikes so I am fit and I don’t do anything like the Dakar with anyone who is not fit. So my co-driver, Sebastien Delunay was out digging and pushing for a long time. It costs a lot of money to do this race so the least you can do is use your running shoes and get yourself in shape!
All of the people you see back at the finish have this incredible ‘never give up’ mentality, people like Guerlain Chiceret who had to fix his buggy every day or Benediktas Vanagas who did half the rally with a broken arm, but on this stage I was really surprised to see a lot of people who had just got stuck and given up. They weren’t digging or pushing or fighting and for me that isn’t the Dakar spirit. Half the field didn’t get through that 60km section and only 12 of the bikers did. The organizers had to cancel the stage back to the Check Point before so that the event could continue!
After that stage everything in my memory is just a blur, just a hot dusty hell. No one knows why we are so stupid to come back again and you often ask yourself why we do it again and again but racing is a real addiction. Actually… thanks to my wife I went to two shrinks to see if I could get myself to stop racing. The first just told me to keep living my dream and the second… well, she had never come across anyone like me before and couldn’t help. So I kept on racing!
On the 6th stage I was leading the class by about 6 hours but I was being too aggressive and broke the gearbox. We worked on it out on the stage all night and got back to the camp and 5am… and started the next stage at 6:30. But this is Dakar, you fight, you don’t give up. Never. But the next stage was damn hard. Because of our bad finishing position in the stage before we started right at the back for this one, behind all of the trucks and they are a nightmare to race behind! With their huge tires they make really deep ruts in the soft parts of the course but the main thing is the dust, they just make this huge wall of it and you just have to stop… but then there are the trucks that you’ve just passed coming from behind and they probably wouldn’t even notice if they ran over a little lawnmower parked in the middle of the track. But the Kamaz trucks are the worst, they just don’t care about anything! Just hearing that name makes the hairs on my arms rise up. So dangerous. But then I suppose they fit into this crazy race in some way. But like everything else you deal with them and its another thing that makes the Dakar so incomparable to anything else. It’s just so gnarly. The stages are so long and hard that it is almost not possible to get through without making a mistake, even though the plan is just to drive sensibly and take no risks. A couple of feet wide on a corner can easily give you a puncture, keeping your foot down on a bump will snap a belt and I even rolled one because I was being too aggressive… but it’s hard not to try and race!
Also, I think more Americans should come as it’s perfect for them. No stupid rules, you just race all day, every day, for weeks! It’s a big challenge, just you and the unforgiving desert.
The big plan for this year was just to get to the finish so that I could have as much experience on four wheels as possible and so for that it was mission accomplished. The RZR did unbelievably well to keep going no matter what I did to it and back in Buenos Aires we got 55th place which is not what I dreamed of, but is a good start! Next time the plan is to be in a competitive T1 car, but for anyone hoping to do this event I really recommend taking some time to look at the cost verses capabilities of a RZR and have a serious think about doing it in a Polaris!”
Polaris brought us out to Zion National Park in Utah to check out their all new 2015 Polaris RZR 900S. So we enlisted trophy truck driver and UTVUnderground.com contributor Chad Ragland to come out and SHAKEDOWN this NEW Polaris RZR platform.
Adult models – 16 and older. Be sure to get safety training. The vehicle displayed in this video is not intended for on-road use. Driver must be 16 years old with a valid driver’s license. Passenger must be 12 years old, and tall enough to use hand holds and plant feet firmly on floor. Always use cab nets, wear seatbelts, helmets, eye protection, and protective clothing. Do not operate on public roads. Avoid excessive speeds, sharp turns, and difficult terrain. Riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix! Never carry more than the appropriate amount of passengers. Follow all warnings/instructions in owners manuals and on product. UTVUnderground and their affiliates are not responsible for injuries that may occur from emulating or copying the riding, driving, or stunts performed in this video. Visit www.rohva.org for more information on safe operation off-road vehicles.
Cute, sweet, chat’s to anyone with a nice smile, everybody loves Katie Vernola. Oh, yes, and she is a former Playmate of the Month which definitely doesn’t harm her popularity in testosterone-filled places like Johnson Valley in the first week of February.
If you know what the Lucas Oil Regionals are and you know what King of the Hammers is you’ll understand that the latter is a huge step up and is definitely not for the faint hearted… or under-prepared. Luckily Katie and her driver step-dad Chris Chapman went out a few weekends before the race in their Polaris RZR XP 1000 to drive some of last year’s course and saw just how hard the standard parts were beaten.
“We already had a KoH legal cage made by Brian Carr of Carr One Fabrication in Lake Elsinore, Racer-X radios, Dynojet power commander and the best filters on the market; K&N… but seeing the damage after our first time out on he hardest trail either of us had ever seen I needed to make a call to my main sponsor SUPERATV.com and they stepped up for us with some serious upgrades. They sorted us out with high clearance a-arms, rhino axles, high clearance radius rods and a heavy duty steering rack. With higher ground clearance and new parts, we went back out for another pre-run and everything seemed to be dialed in just right. Walker Evans Racing set-up the shocks perfect high speed and rock sections. GMZ Race Products got us a set of their 30″ Kahuna tires on 14″ Liteloc wheels. PRP seats provided us with the best seats there are, plus seat belts and bags to carry all our tools. Pro Armor provided us a spare tire mount and front and rear bumpers. KoH is so hard that even for the Sportsman Class this is what you need to do for your ATV!”
“At the drivers meeting Tuesday I felt like we were under-prepared and that’s when the nerves hit me. I would be getting out winching, navigating and helping with any trail repair we needed none of which you need in the Lucas Oil races! I was practicing winching so much that one day I thought that all my hands would be covered in blisters. Something else unique to KoH is that it is such a massively long lap that you need to have people waiting for you at four different pits! We didn’t have that many people in out team! Fortunately Chris at American Rock Rods offered to help pit for us and their knowledge of the race was just what we needed to pick our heads up for the next day’s race. Starting positions were drawn randomly and we ended up on the pole for Sportsman Class so I knew if I could keep my step-dad calm and keep a steady pace, we would have a great chase of finishing. Our goal for our first year was just to finish.”
“Then the green flag dropped… and we were racing for all of about ½ a mile before we got stopped behind a long line of Pro Class ATVs that had got stuck and jammed on the first hill leaving Hammertown. We quickly found an alternative way around the broken car then we were off! A highlight for me was coming into the first pits with the media helicopter right in front us, just a few meters off the ground. The American Rock Rods crew had a quick check and we were out again keeping a steady pace through the desert of about 55-60 mph to get to the first rock crawl at Crowbar which was single file through the tight valley. Already we had passed many broken ATVs that were pulled off to the side so we knew that the key to the race would be not to break anything. That’s not too easy here though…”
“In the rocks heading back down to Hammertown the way we wanted to go was blocked with more stuck Pro Class ATVs so to get around we chose to take the much harder route called Ballerina Rock. It had a 4ft tall drop-off off the end of it and we were sure that we were going to go end over end, but we made it and the impressed guy at the checkpoint said that we were only the 2nd ATV to come through that way! There was some more good news at the next pit too. Thanks to us going around the traffic jams rather than waiting in line we were running 8th overall… in both classes, not just Sportsman! And because we were doing so well we decided to take it a little easier seeing as we were at Race Mile 50 and there were still 70 something to go… but KoH doesn’t care about anyone’s hopes and plans and going up Aftershock a loud snap was the front diff giving up. I was very upset and was wanting to keep going but there was no chance we could carry on without 4 wheel drive and we limped back to Hammertown with just enough time to see that only 3 UTV’s had finished the race, out 53.”
“Looking back it was very eye opening and I can’t believe we made it up some of the sections we did, which is awesome, and I can’t wait to get into more forms of racing now… although after the adrenaline had worn off my neck and shoulders made it feel like I’d been in a car crash!”
“I will be back next year and the plan will be to to get out front as soon as possible to avoid all the pile-ups on the rocks.”
“I can’t thank these companies enough for their help: SuperAtv.com, Nflow motorsports, Carr One Fabrication, GMZ Race Products, MTX Audio, UTVUnderground.com, Bell racing, PRP Seats, K&N Filters, Yoshimura, DynoJet, Cody Haggerty, Polaris RZR, Awthentik Design Group, Racer-X motorsports, Factory Utv, ProArmor and American Rock Rods.”
The World Off-Road Championship Series headed out to Peoria, AZ last weekend for rd. 3 of the 2015 season. Though Arizona is known for its sunshine and hot summers, it always seems to muster some rain when WORCS rolls into town and this year was no different. Drivers would face mild rain and mud all weekend, the worst of which luckily held off until the completion of the main events on Sunday.
Congrats to all the racers who threw down this weekend, especially Mitch Guthrie Jr. for taking home the win! A huge thank you goes out to all the racers repping UTVUnderground at the track and on their race machines! You guys are the reason we cover all the races and we can’t thank you enough for all the support. Enjoy the photos!
2015 Best in the Desert UTV World Championship Race Report
By: Johnny Angal 1921 UTVinc.com
Boy what to say about this race? Coming off a great start to the 2015 season I just didn’t know how to feel about the UTV World Championship. I was still feeling great about our Polaris RZR XP 1000 4 and Feeling even better about our Revamped FOX PODIUM Internal Bypass with DSC Adjusters. I knew we would be racing against a huge field of talented UTV racers that have been racing for years and have their cars dialed. So I guess I’d say I had kind of an uneasy feeling knowing that if everything went right, I could win a $20000.00+ Polaris RZR, a host of other great prizes and some cash. Oh yea, there was a lot on the line for this one race.
Well as always, at the San Felipe race we learned some lessons. We came back to the shop and made a bunch of changes to the car and our shocks. We are always learning and trying to be better and on top of the game.
We got everything done and buttoned up in time. So we spent the day Wednesday loading up the 2 chase trucks, the trailers, the race car and the pre runner for the Poker Run. We headed out Thursday morning early. We made it to Laughlin around noon and checked into our rooms. Friday would be a busy day with the Poker Run in the morning “IE a chance to pre run the race course and see what we are in for”. The course seemed great, actually too good, it was smooth and fast but we could tell it would be dusty.
When we got done with that we had some lunch, unloaded the race car and headed to tech inspection and contingency. We had no problems while driving thru tech and I got to spend a few minutes talking to Larry Ragland and Larry Roeseler. These two guys have won so many off road races! It is crazy, I’m sure they know Baja Mexico better than the locals in Mexico! Yah, it was the highlight of my day!
So next is the drivers meeting where they go over the rules; tell you to pick up your own trash; no drinking in the pits and fun stuff like that. It lasts about an hour and afterwards there is a kickoff party at Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho (The Drunk Donkey) Restaurant. I am kind of hungry and thinking this is going to suck. I figure the restaurant fills up with people because of his TV show but damn, first came the chips and salsa and I have to say they are the best ever! Ok, ok, so how hard is it to screw up a basket of chips? Next I order the chicken fajitas; they had the best flavor ever and even the beans where tasty! So I’m saying next time I see one of his places I’ll be sure to stop in! Oh yah, race report not a Yelp review, sorry!
So race day is here, we are going to line up at 10am and are scheduled to start at 10:30. We are going to be lining up 15 cars in a row, without the engine running. When the flag drops, start the car and drop the hammer and go! I’m not a fan of it but nobody cares! If you want to race that’s how you start, so yep the flag drops and we are off!
We hit the first corner 5th in line going into the desert, not too shabby. We make our way around a few corners and BAM, no power steering. Now you have to understand, here is where testing a new aftermarket power steering unit, that if it worked, would have saved us five plus pounds on the car and if it worked right, that’s 5 lbs. we didn’t have to haul 1000s of miles thru the desert. But, it didn’t work right. I guess the simple truth of the matter is maybe I should just diet and lose 10 lbs., LOL. Anyway, the power steering deal pretty much cost us a podium finish! After it quit working, the stress on the mount pulled the treads out of the 4 mounting bolts. So then the unit hung down in front of the brake pedal for the next 150 miles! At one time we had to stop and hook our steering shaft back together as the weight of the unit hanging down pulled it apart.
Well anyway, first lap is done and we are maybe a ½ mile behind the race leader. We are tearing up the race course and my arms are burning, hands are already sore, but we hang in there and second lap is down. We can see we gained a couple hundred feet on the leader going into the third lap. It was all the same things and as we are pounding thru the ‘Fox Proving Grounds’ the steering shaft pulls apart and we have to stop. Boner gets it bolted back up and finds one of the bolts on the floor for the motor. He gets it bolted up again so it is not hanging in front of the “all important” brake pedal. While we are messing with this we get passed by, uhh, I don’t know… 4, 5, maybe 6 cars! We get back to racing again and start passing people back. We don’t know where we are but at one point our crew tells us 5th place again, so we are making up lost time when all of a sudden the power steering motor that was being held on by one bolt comes loose again. So we make the call to pull into the pits and try and fix it. After a few minutes and no luck, because all the threads are stripped out of the unit we charge back onto the course. On our 8th lap thru the ‘Fox Proving Grounds’, BIG whoops, BIG holes, and we are just flying thru it all thanks to my Fox Shocks. Well, we clip a rock and shear off 15 or so of our titanium bead lock bolts. The tire goes flat in an instant! I pull over and my navigator jumps out and changes the flat in no time! We are back in the race and charging hard for the next racer in front of us! Do you remember that ‘nice, smooth, fast race course’ I was telling you about? Well it was gone. I could not believe how tore up the track had gotten after 61 UTV’s went around it 8 or 9 times. We were still getting with it and passing people back. When we finally pulled up to the finish line in we were sitting in 4th place. Not too bad for all the problems we had but hey, that’s racing. My Baja Co Driver Branden Sims took first place and won the Polaris RZR 1000. Congrats to him and everybody that took on the 1st ever UTV World Championship!
I would like to thank: Polaris Industries, Best in the Desert, Martelli Brothers, Joey D, UTVinc.com for the Awesome Race Chassis Build, Fox Shox, Lone Star Racing Suspension, Method Race Wheels, ITP Tires, Wolf Designs, PCI Radios and everyone who had a hand in helping with our race program and this event!
At Camp RZR Glamis in 2014, Rhys Millen of RMR Products unveiled his latest creation. Rhys took a brand new 2014 Polaris RZR XP1000 and designed a custom, to-scale body kit based off of the current Ford Raptor. The body and chassis / cage design changed the RZR into what appears to be a mini version of the Raptor. The Raptor-RZR stole the show at the 2014 UTVUnderground Camp RZR Show & Shine competition and has since become a hot topic of discussion amongst the UTV community.
Finally we get to see the Raptor-RZR in action as Rhys and his crew take this cool looking UTV into the high-desert of California and spend the day playing with the new off-road machine. We hope you enjoy watching this clip as much as we did, we want one now!!
330 of the greatest off-road racers on the planet are about to go to WAR!!
The 2015 Polaris RZR Mint 400 presented by General Tire will roar through Sin City March 11th-15th and feature a host of spectacular new features. After last years massive, record-setting event, (Mint 400 race owners) the Martelli Brothers are once again doubling down on “The Great American Off-Road Race.” The partnership between The Mint 400 and The Best In The Desert Racing Series continues to spur innovation and improvements to the race each year, making the event a marquee Las Vegas destination experience that draws in top off-road competitors, new fans, and off-road enthusiasts worldwide.
The Mint 400 BEGINS!!!
WEDNESDAY March 11th
1:00pm Vehicle Procession | South Point Casino to Fremont St.
4pm Mint 400 Kick Off Party | 10th & Fremont
5pm Mint 400 Pit Crew Challenge Qualifying | 10th & Fremont
Thursday March 12th
THURSDAY March 12th
8:30am – 11:00am Time Trials Registration | Buffalo Bills
11:30amTime Trials | Location TBD
4:30pm Rugged Radios Meet & Greet | 10th & Fremont
5:30pm Time Trials Results Announcement | 10th & Fremont
6pm Miss Mint 400 Crowning | 10th & Fremont
6:30pm Pit Crew Challenge Main Event | 10th & Fremont
6:30pm Pit Crew Challenge Party | 10th & Fremont
FRIDAY March 13th
8:30am – 6:00pm Tech & Contingency | Fremont St. East
8:30am – 5:30pm Driver Registration | The Grand inside Golden Nugget
8:30am – 5:30pm Media Registration | The Grand inside Golden Nugget
3pm Press Conference Location | Founders Room inside El Cortez
5pm Helicopter Pilots Meeting | The Grand inside Golden Nugget
6:00pm Media Meeting | The Grand inside Golden Nugget
7pm Drivers Meeting | The Grand inside Golden Nugget
SATURDAY / RACE DAY / March 14th
6:00am Limited Race
2:30pm Unlimited Race (Trick Trucks)
11pm Red Bull Mint 400 After Party | Drai’s Night Club inside Cromwell
SUNDAY March 15th
11am Awards Brunch | The Grand inside Golden Nugget
After an intense morning of racing on the desert loop it was time to turn our eyes toward the short course drivers. The Holz Racing Production Championship course is a modified version of the desert loop using primarily the infield short-course style section. The production drivers would face the added challenge of deteriorating track conditions. The desert cars had worn ruts into the turns and churned up big rocks in some places. Add to this the fact that the Championship race is longer than short-course style races in other venues and many were predicting high rates of attrition.
To win this event the drivers needed to find a delicate balance between pushing hard to get out front of their competitors and holding back to keep their machines intact for the full 90 minutes of spine-jarring racing. Teams with thorough prep jobs and practice in the hot pits would have their chance to shine. Jacob Shaw out of Lakeside, Ca would pull out to a healthy lead and keep a blistering pace to take home the win in his Magnum, GMZ, Muzzy’s XP1000. Many racers mounted comeback efforts and repaired broken parts to get back on the track
Semi-local Richie Laatz put together a great run and was able to climb to the second step of the podium in his #910 machine. Third place would go to long-time ATV racer Beau Baron in the #954 Polaris.
One of the highlights of the entire weekend was the Production 170 class.The future stars of the sport duked it out head-to-head on the production track in miniaturized versions of the larger race cars. The 170s surprised a lot of people both with their performance and the dedication, skill and professionalism of the drivers. We were thrilled at the turnout and how much fun the competitors had, we can’t wait to do more to put the 170 class in the spotlight.
Congratulations to all the Production racers that took on this especially grueling short-course event! A huge thank you to all the drivers, teams and fans that came out to Laughlin for our Inaugural event, you guys made it a huge success and we cant wait to put on the next one!
1. 991 Jacob Shaw (20) Lakeside, CA, Polaris Magnum Offroad, GMZ Race Products, Muzzy Performance
2. 910 Richie Laatz (37) N. Las Vegas, NV, Custom
3. 954 Beau Baron (34) Atascadero, CA, Polaris Polaris, Maxxis, H&M, Holz, Sparks, Walker
Evans, Pro Motorsports, Tire Blocks,atvriders.com, Shoei, X Brand Goggles
4. 913 Branden Sims (29) Prescott Valley, AZ, Polaris Polaris RZR, Lonestar Racing, Fox, KC
HiLites, Northern AZ Auto & Off Road, Queen Racing
5. 935 Ray Bulloch (33) Cedar City, UT, Polaris Bulloch, Dirt Works, Trople S Polaris, LucasOil