Words by: Joey DiGiovanni // UTVUnderground.com

Photos by: Vincent Knakal // Mad Media for UTVUnderground.com
Brendan Klein // Mad Media for UTVUnderground.com
Joey DiGiovanni // UTVUnderground.com

UTVUnderground.com along with media partners Mad Media headed to Parker, AZ for the kickoff to the 2013 BITD race season at the annual THR Parker 250 this past weekend. With a crew of 10+ videographers, photographers, and a helicopter we came out cameras-a-blazin for the first race of the year. John Deere and Polaris had us on hand to ensure photo and video coverage of their factory teams in addition to covering the race as usual for the readers of UTVUnderground.com and all the fine racers and their teams competing.

As is the case in most desert races at BITD the first race of the season was a crazy one! The Parker 250 race is a bike, ATV & UTV race only so there are no trucks or buggys to contend with which makes the race a bit quicker and not as stressful for those working the race from the sildelines. But for those strapped into the UTV’s its no different then any other war they are set to battle. 22 UTVs in total would stage at the Parker start-line at 7:15am on Saturday. The first UTV would leave the line right around 9am and would head off into the rising desert sun and dust to embark on 2 80 mile laps. The 1961 John Deere Gator XUV, formally the 1911would lead the pack into the desert just ahead of the other 2 DSR1 race cars.  The 1961 entered into DSR1 as Vigor Motorsports’ Scott Martinez and Matt Krimple plan to turn the old Gator into a street-bike powered machine before the Mint 400.

The UTV’s would leave one at a time in 30 second intervals until the last sportsman UTV was off the line. With our chopper in the air and our soldiers on the ground we would charge around the course to capture as much of the race action as possible. Jagged X’s 1919 of Brandon Schueler and the 1931 (former 1932) of Craig Scanlon would lead the pack of Pro UTV’s off the line in the 1 and 2 starting positions. It didn’t take the 1919 Polaris long to get around the 3 DSR1’s in front of him and get into clean air. He would lead most of the first lap and would come into the “Python” heading out onto his 2nd lap with a 5 minute lead over his teammate running in second place Craig Scanlon. Just behind them at the start of their second lap was the extremely fast Cognito Motorsports Polaris XP4 with the Coastal Racing XP900 hot on their tail only 30 seconds behind. Cognito would roll through main pit without stopping while Coastal Racing would need to stop losing valuable time to the Cognito XP4.

Back at RM22 the brand new 1911 John Deere RSX built by Magnum Offroad would be suffering its first bit of growing pains. The new platform never got the test miles it needed before lining up for its first race and this would prove to be detrimental to the innovative new machine. A factory rear knuckle would play spoiler to the team and their hopes of a solid finish in their virgin run. It would take hours to get them the parts needed to repair the machine on course and by then the time limit for lap 1 would expire forcing the team to call it a race and put the machine on the trailer.  However, the 1961 would plug away and would finish the race 2nd in the DSR1 class giving the team something to hang their hat on for the day.  We look forward to seeing the 1911 get the bugs worked out and show everyone what the John Deere can do at the Mint 400.

Just as it was looking like the 1919 of Brandon Schueler would continue to check out on the competition we would hear over the radio that the bad luck that seemed to plague the machine all last season would strike once again.  In 50 races the team has never lost a transmission in one of their XP900’s, however this race would prove to be the one where a trans would fail and force them to claim a DNF in the opening round of the season. Desert racing is proof that it doesn’t matter how experienced or prepared you are, if luck isn’t on your side then you will have a rough time competing. But like the John Deere team, the Jagged X team also has another car on the track and in the case of JX the 1931 is being piloted by 2nd year racer and the man in charge of the Polaris RZR program for Polaris Industries, Craig Scanlon.  Scanlon caught the racing bug last season while competing in the sportsman class. The man behind the RZR product line is not only making decisions for the company back in Minnesota, he is also enjoying the sport we all love and that is an exciting thing for our sport to see someone with so much influence out using the products they promote to the absolute extreme. So while the 1919 debated on how to get the wounded car off the course, the 1931 of Scanlon would continue to battle Cognito, Coastal Racing, and Kingpin Motorsports all in RZR’s of their own!

We at UTVUnderground.com try real hard to know and get the scoop on all the teams competing but unfortunately we don’t always know everyone’s story. We weren’t sure what all happened to the factory Can-Am race teams of Murray Motorsports and Cory Sappington. We heard both had problems fairly early on into the race but that they both got up and running. We are waiting on OFFICIAL results to see how the entire field finished but both of these Can-Am’s looked really fast off the line. Both machines are the same Commander’s they ran in all of the 2012 season, with a little luck we hope to see both teams in Mavericks for March’s Mint 400 race. Sappington is not only the sports most dedicated patron having helped found the UTV class at BITD and also race in every season since its inception, he also works every race as the tech director for the UTV class. This has proven stressful for Sappington and also has raised frustration amongst his fellow racers. Being the tech director is a thankless job in many ways, your either a racers best buddy or his worst enemy and in the case of Sappington he is also a competitor which ads even more stress to the whole situation. It seems like every year a stink gets raised about some rule or some thing surrounding the tech director and this race was no different. To keep the class on their toes and to keep them honest Sappington likes to surprise racers by checking for random rule infractions from time to time. To kick off the 2013 season at Parker, Sappington broke out his scales and decided to weigh each UTV to gather sense of each machines vehicle weight. The goal according to Sappington was to weigh the cars so that he could gauge whether or not a team was or wasn’t running the required wall thickness of tubing that is required by the class rules. Many racers voiced frustration and curiosity of the actual intentions behind the random weight testing, with the Cognito Motorsports team flat out refusing to put their car on the scales. Cognito claims that they did not need to weigh their car because their is no minimum or maximum weight rule in the class rulebook and claimed that there is no way to tell wall thickness of tubing purely by weighing the cars. They went on to explain that factors such as wheel / tire combination, size of fuel cell, gallons of fuel in those cells, and body paneling would cause more of a change in weight from car to car then tube wall thickness and the fact that Sappington is aslo a competitor offers him privy information to how much each competitors car weighs. They were permitted to not weigh their machine after a heated debate broke out during tech inspection. Sappington would go on to say that at the Mint 400 he would bring in a tubing X-Ray machine to test tube wall thickness, that he is going to hold everyone accountable and will continue to do his job as tech inspector to the best of his ability. Other than this bit of drama, no other team refused the scales and everyone seemed to brush off the random rule check giving Sappington benefit of the doubt.

Back on course, racers continued to battle for position.  Late in the race Cognito Motorsports would make their move on the remaining Jagged X machine and the Kingpin Motorsports car moving themselves into the first UTV on course. While they looked to put distance on the second place UTV the Coastal Racing guys would have to replace not 1, not 2, but 5 drive belts! The 2012 Championship Team of Mark Holz and Coastal team owner Scott Kiger would suffer from this early season issue that was causing their machine to continue to pop belts all race long. The fact that they continued to battle for the win all the way until the checkered flag and do so despite losing the 5 belts showed just how fast they are as a team. In the end Coastal would bring home a solid 3rd place finish and send them home with a podium and 2 months to resolve their belt loss issue.

Cognito would build up a 7 minute lead over 2nd and 3rd place and just as it was looking like they were going to cruise across the finish line for a big win tragedy would strike.  With less than 15 miles to go in the race the teams clutch would come apart leaving the car wounded on the side of the course. This would allow the 1931 Jagged X car of Scanlon to get around and fly into the finish line as the 1st UTV in the Parker 250. As they pulled up and celebrated their astonishing 1st place finish the yellow Kingpin Motorsports machine would roll up only a few minutes behind Scanlon leaving the teams to calculate corrected time. With Scanlon being the second car off the line and KIngpin going off in the 12th position they only needed to finish within 5 minutes or so to bring home the win on corrected time. After a few minutes of calculating we would deliver the news that Kingpin’s XP4 would win the race by less than a minute over Scanlon. A tremendous feat for the dedicated team from Las Vegas whose team owner Stephanie Reynolds travels all the way from Arkansas to compete. We couldn’t have been happier to see the Kingpin team capture a win, they debuted this machine last year at the 2012 Mint 400 and now finally have claimed their first win in the Pro UTV class!

We wish we could elaborate more on the rest of the field but without official results we just can’t say who or what finished beyond that and in what order.  Once we get those results we will update our story with that information.

Again, UTVUnderground.com wants to say thank you to each and every team and racer who represents our colors on their machines, in their PR’s and in their other team functions. We couldn’t be more proud or happy to see all the support that comes from all of you when we are out there working to cover these events. The 2013 Parker 250 kicked off what looks to be another solid race season at Best In The Desert. The UTV class is garnering a lot of attention these days. People now know what a UTV is and are beginning to respect the class as a legit race class in off-road racing. The machines are developing faster then ever and are traveling through the deserts faster than ever. Media attention is at an all time high and manufacturers are paying close attention to race results and participation. The future of UTV racing is bright and we hope to see a lot more exciting races like the Parker 250 this season. Special thank you to the photographers on the ground and in the air for us this weekend, Vincent Knakal and Brendan Klein.  2 of the best in the biz helping me out to cover the whole course!

I hope you guys enjoy all the shots and stay tuned for the videos to come!! The next race is March 20-24, 2013 at the legendary Mint 400 in Las Vegas. We have been working very close with The Martelli Bros. and Mad Media on offering the UTV class some exciting stuff at the Mint so we hope to see you all out there!!!


1 – #1943 Kingpin Motorsports – Gabe Guerin / Stephanie Reynolds / Robert Erosky – Polaris RZR XP4

2 – #1931 Jagged X/Polaris – Craig Scanlon / Jason Speiss – Polaris RZR XP4

3 – #1934 Coastal Racing – Scott Kiger / Mark Holz – Polaris RZR XP900

4 – #1988 Rockstar Racing – Lacrecia Beurrier / Preston Alexis – Polaris RZR (Sportsman 1st place)

5 – #1938 – Brian Thomas / Holly Thomas – Polaris RZR XP900

6 – #1940 Kingpin Motorsports – Steve Linberg / Tony Taylor – Polaris RZR

7 – #1946 – Christina Perkins / Kent Perkins – Polaris RZR

8 – #1988 – Aldrich Racing – Monty Aldrich / Sheri Aldrich – Can-Am Commander (Sportsman)