In just his second race with the Polaris Factory Racing squad, Brock Heger found himself atop the box with the fastest overall UTV time in the SCORE Baja 500. Heger’s time of 10:45:27 in the Polaris RZR Pro R Factory Edition was nearly 15 minutes clear of his closest competition, as Pro Rs swept the top five overall UTV spots in the race. In this exclusive interview, Heger talks about getting the call to join the team for 2023, how incredible the Pro R is even in stock form, his victory, and looking ahead to the rest of the season:
First things first: congratulations on the Baja 500 win! How does it feel to not only take the overall UTV win in such a grueling race, but also give Polaris Factory Racing its second class win in a row?
It’s been good! With what I do and what I’ve been doing, going back to UTV racing in the desert, it’s new for me—obviously growing up doing short course racing, and within the past four or five years doing some desert racing as well. I did desert racing in a 10 car, did really well there, won some championships there. Did some 6100 Spec Truck, did well there, won some championships. So it’s a learning curve for me. My first race didn’t go as planned, but I was glad that the team was able to win, and going into the 500, I just wanted to redeem myself. I felt good at San Felipe but had some issues, and then going into the 500, we had quite the day.
Going back to the beginning of the program for a second. With all of your experience in desert and short course, you’ve won pretty much anything you’ve touched over the course of your career. What was it like to get the call to drive with the team in 2023? With Polaris’ factory involvement, how does this program compare behind the scenes to any team you’ve raced with so far?
I was very thankful, obviously, about getting a phone call. I had a lot of questions right at the beginning—just kinda what, when, where, and how and so on. Growing up, I did everything on my own. I think it was two years I went to a team deal, like I had with Jeremy McGrath. And ever since then, I’ve kinda done everything on my own again. So it was just a matter of figuring out how you do this when you’ve done everything by yourself and you know, put your own sponsors together, put your own car together, planned everything yourself. Once I got more intel on it and what it was gonna be, I obviously wanted to be a part of it however I could be. And with how this is going, I think it’s really good for our sport.
Does it kind of take the pressure off to not have to be dealing with every aspect of your own program?
Yeah. I don’t know the day to day in the shop essentially. I mean, as much as I do, I don’t. <laugh> But that was kind of the point of it. They wanted us to focus on what we’re there to do, which is drive, and showing up knowing that the group of guys and everyone involved is gonna have me in one of the best cars there. All I have to do is just show up and put the work in driving and pre-running and that kind of stuff. Being able to just focus on racing and driving makes it super easy.
You’re no stranger to UTV racing by any stretch of the imagination, but the Pro R Factory is a different beast. What sets the Pro R platform apart from anything else you’ve driven?
Obviously my past UTV career has been on a different platform that was kind of different compared to what I’m doing now. But this car’s crazy! I don’t have that much time in it, but my dad just got one and I’ve kind of been driving that around a little bit. It’s just crazy to see how far these cars have come. I mean, a bone stock car is good right out the box. I tell myself that I think I could do good in a bone stop car. And my dad and I talk about it, we’re like, “geez, I can’t believe random people can buy this!” So they’re crazy cars.
I remember back when it was like, oh, you put 32s on your car and that was big. And then it went to running 35s, and these cars are 35s, but they make the tires look small. And it’s just, you know, probably only a matter of time till the next step up.
No doubt. And obviously, the car is only as good as the people who are in it and the people who are around you. And clearly Polaris has assembled a really strong team with you, your teammates, and your bosses. How have your relationships grown with your bosses and teammates since the team was formed, and how has that support helped you, Austin, and Cayden get faster in these cars?
The support is second to none. Everyone that’s a part of this program is super good at what they do. I’d kind of grown up and heard of and known Austin because he’s family friends with my girlfriend’s family. Cayden I knew from short course growing up—Rob being in that scene and Rob being as good as he is, and he’s always been an idol. So getting to work with everyone as part of the team, we go pre-running together, we share our notes, we don’t hide anything. We kind of look at it as if one wins, we all win. So we work together really hard. We try to put all of our resources together just to give us that next best chance.
Moving on to Baja 500 race day itself. It’s one of the toughest races of the year, but you and your teammates spent plenty of time in podium positions—and by race’s end, you’d put on a pretty healthy gap on the field. Walk us through your race, how did you push into the lead and come out on top?
I started eighth—two spots in front of me was Austin and then Cayden. And then there were two more cars and Craig was in the front. I knew I was at the tail end of our team, so I just pushed forward. I picked a few cars off, got out by Cayden, and then Cayden was gonna follow me for a while. I ended up passing Austin on a line that I didn’t know I passed him, so I got to the pit first. But I wasn’t going crazy, I was just being smart. In San Felipe I had some unnecessary stops, so my mindset kind of going into it was I didn’t want to stop except for the pits that I had to stop at.
I just kind of went forward with that all day. We started picking off some 10 cars, and by then I had a little gap behind me. Then we ended up having a pit malfunction that took, I don’t know, probably 10 to 12 minutes that I sat in the pit, and the 10 cars got back by me. So I ended up following them again over the crossover and pretty much down the coast. And I just played it smart. I knew the time splits behind me, and I knew I missed a VCP, so I was gonna have a penalty. So the team was informing me the whole second half on my back door gap, and I was just trying to hold it steady.
The fact that you were catching and passing Class 10 cars really feels like a testament to the performance of these Pro Rs.
Yeah, no doubt. When I was on the coast side, Tavo Vildosola pulled out in front of me in a million dollar, four-wheel drive trophy truck. And I wanted to try to see how long I could hang with them or see how much time they could put on me, just because I think these cars have a lot of potential. But I told myself, as much as I want to see the difference and what these cars are capable of, I was like, I don’t want to throw it away. So I let him go!
When all was said and done, the entire overall UTV top five was Pro Rs. What does it mean to you as a Pro R driver to see the car so successful across the board in an event like this?
Yeah, I mean, just based off of a stock car, which anyone can go buy—out of the box, they’re phenomenal cars. I’ve driven a lot of race cars, I’ve driven a lot of stock cars, I’ve driven a lot of cars in the desert. And honestly, the first time that I drove one of these cars a few months ago, I was blown away. And I obviously drove a stock car before I drove the race car, so I was like, holy cow. Polaris is top notch and they take this stuff very seriously. With this program, the amount of support and engineering that we get from Polaris is second to none. I just can’t wait to see what these cars, this team, and everything looks like down the road in a few years.
Being able to back up a top 10 run in San Felipe with a win puts you in a great spot in the SCORE standings with two races to go. How confident are you feeling about your chances to go take the championship?
I’ve done this for a while and I don’t necessarily look at it through point standings. I always look at it like my goal is, I want to go out there and win. So if I can continue the success going to the next two races, then at the end I’ll get the championships. So for now, my mindset is obviously I want to win. And I also want to see how well I can do against 10 cars, just to try to show everyone the true potential of these cars.
The SCORE schedule wraps up with the Baja 400 and 1000. What are the keys to success going to be in each of those races and how are you and the team preparing for each of them?
Obviously, the 400 coming up is a little shorter than what we did now. So going forward to that, no changes. I know we have some testing coming up, trying to get some more stuff figured out, trying to get the cars better in certain areas. And then the 1000… personally, I’m in for a treat. <laugh> It’s a long ways. I’ve never even attempted to race that long in a UTV, so I don’t know what to expect quite yet. I’m still trying to figure out who, who’s gonna drive with me and how we’re gonna split it, but I’m looking forward to it. But I think it’ll be good. It’s obviously going to be a long day and a long night, but I don’t think there’s any other 1000 that we would wanna debut this team in. Normally, they’re 800 mile loops, and obviously this one will be the peninsula run. I think that’s gonna be cool, and I’m sure we’ll have a blast.
Finally, let’s go to the partners on this program. Polaris has really assembled a great team of partners for you, all industry leaders, and some of whom you’ve worked with before. What has some of that partner support been like from all these brands that are involved?
There are a ton of good companies. I think about when I was younger, when I would just draw a picture in class of a car and be like, “Ooh, I want this sponsor, I want that sponsor.” Those kinds of sponsors are the ones who we have supporting us, that’s who we’re representing.
You can go down the line, there’s a huge list of people. Progressive being one of the higher up sponsors, that’s a huge company, and obviously it’s an honor representing them. BFGoodrich Tires has the best tires on the market. I’ve worked with Method Race Wheels for a while and it’s super cool having them involved. Having Fox Moto being a part of it is pretty cool—growing up in the desert and living in Glamis, you see a lot of people wearing Fox stuff, so it’s cool seeing them come out with their own UTV apparel line. It’s like the dream team essentially with our sponsors for sure.