Chad Ragland Takes on the TerraCross Championship
Words by: Chad Ragland // UTVUnderground.com
Photos by: Joe Wiegele // NSP for UTVUnderground.com
What an incredible experience it was to race in my first ever UTV race! UTVUnderground.com was gracious enough to fly me to Elk River, MN to race in the TerraCross Championship season opener and let me compete in their brand new 2014 RZR Xp1000. Needless to say I was surrounded by the best UTV racers in the country and one more would be arriving a little late to not only compete but also be my teammate. His name, RJ Anderson, you know, that XP1K guy. UTVUnderground.com and Polaris had me all lined up with the #23 UTVUnderground.com / Walker Evans Racing Polaris RZR Xp1000 and I couldn’t have been more excited to jump behind the wheel and compete this weekend!
The race was held at ERX MotoPark which is more familiar to Snowcross racers and a place where they hold weekly races in the winter. It is a first class facility with pits, stands, concessions, and a wonderful track and maintenance crew. You won’t find better outdoor facilities anywhere that I know of. The concept of TerraCross is to provide us with an enduro-cross type track layout.
The promoter Joe Duncan arranged television coverage for the event through CBS Sports (TV schedule to come), and was designed to be a stock -class invitation-only two-day event. We would all be racing identical 2014 Polaris RZR XP1000’s! Keep in mind, these are the 2014 RZR models, dealers don’t even have these yet! All race vehicles were equipped with factory Polaris side/nerf guards, bumpers (front and rear), Pro-Armor five point harnesses, 14″ Walker Evans Racing Wheels, and 30″ GBC Motorsports Kanati-Mongrel tires. All suspension and drivetrain was completely stock which was just fine because these new 1000cc engines and huge Walker Evans Racing Shocks work incredibly well!
Being the new kid (I use this term very loosely) on the block I spent Saturday just getting a feel for the vehicle and working on my lines. Not only am I new to UTV’s but also short course racing in general. It showed when I ran my first heat in 2wd. Big mistake, but one I learned from. The 4wd drive system works so well in the new RZR’s that running them in 2wd on the track is a definite disadvantage. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was feeling much more confident, and ready to race. Now I will admit. My teammate RJ Anderson and I do have a little experience in the new XP1000. We both just spent a week together in Oregon at DuneFest where we not only got to drive our own RZR Xp1000’s around all week, we also got to race them in the Last Man Standing race held at the event. In addition, RJ worked on this little XP1K project that you may have heard of, so he has been ripping around in the 1000’s for a while. For RJ, short-course racing is his world. I on the other hand am a desert guy, going fast with 800hp and 30″ of travel is my cup of tea but racing door to door and launching off of jumps is a bit new, but a challenge I am more then excited to take on!
The track for round 1 of the TerraCross Championship was primarily all left turns with one very tight right hander. There was one large double, an extremely rough rhythm section, a steep tractor tire jump, a big start/finish table top, and a few other big holes and jumps to maneuver. A good lap time was forty eight seconds. The course was really fun for both the fans and drivers, but of course over time it deteriorated considerably, and managing your equipment was very important. In every race there was carnage. Flattened tires, bent suspension and rollovers were sort of common place which was no surprise when you see how gnarly this course is. Of course the master of all this was RJ Anderson. A master behind the wheel of a UTV and one heck of a nice person, he was the man to beat all weekend. Having to fly in on a red eye Saturday night after competing at the WORCS race at Gelen Helen, (Southern California) he had the least amount of time on the track before Sunday’s races. To no one’s surprise he threw down the fastest qualifying time his first time out on the track. RJ would go on to dominate myself and the rest of the field by winning both rounds of racing on Sunday. The guy just shows up and wins? I’m there for what seemed like a week and he just walks away? I have decided to spend more time with my teammate between this round and the next!
I’ll save all the racing action for CBS Sports, but you will see some great racing action from the Mid-West that I promise won’t disappoint. To say we raced door-to-door is an understatement!
Stay tuned to UTVUnderground.com for the TerraCross Championship Television Schedule!
Special thanks to:
Walker Evans Racing (shocks & wheels) (Thank you Nick and Bob)
GBC Motorsports (tires)
Polaris Industries (RZR Xp1000)
Joey D. (for letting me race the UTVUnderground machine!)
Joe Duncan (TerraCross Promotor)
Everyone in Minnesota that made me feel right at home and invited me back!
About the Author:
Chad Ragland is no stranger to competition, he grew up around many of off-road racing’s icons, including his father – “Lightning” Larry Ragland. His legendary father holds five overall SCORE Baja 1000 titles among many other race wins and accomplishments. With racing in his DNA, Chad has competed in many sports – BMX, swimming, motorcycle, mountain biking and over the last decade – desert racing.
In addition to being a top athlete in the off-road racing world, Chad applies his racing knowledge and driving experience off the race track too. Promoting his passion for all things automotive, Chad has recently filmed several commercials for General Tire, Conti- nental Tire and FOX Shocks. He also had the chance to put the Ford Raptor to the test for Pickuptrucks.com, becoming their #1 video of 2012 in the process. He has taken on the live host role, providing on-air coverage for events such as the 2013 King of the Hammers and Polaris Industries’ dealer demos. Chad is a natural in front of the camera and has been featured in several action sports films, including Bajaflo2, Desert People 6 & 8, and Drive. He has appeared in five NBC Baja 500 and Baja 1000 programs, SPEED Channel’s coverage of the Best in the Desert Mint 400 race, various racing shows and interviews on the radio, in print and online.