Feature Vehicle: Baby C’s / UTVUnderground 2017 Polaris RZR 170
When I was growing up I would have only dreamed to have owned a machine like my son Cristian “Baby C” DiGiovanni’s. We were lucky if we got a new bike every few years or to get to ride a friends cool motorcycle or something. Then again, my family wasn’t in the off-road industry like I am. Being fortunate to work in this sport has afforded my children opportunities & toys that otherwise would never have been possible. I hope one day they look back on all of these memories and remember how cool their parents actually were!
Baby C has become a little legend around the UTVUnderground camp. Everyone knows him for his epic hairstyle, hilarious demeanor and just generally cool personality. He’s only recently turned 9 years old, but he’s certainly an old soul. If anyone deserves a cool play car its him for sure. He works hard in school, is relentless with helping me around the shop, and is always the first one to jump in to help load up and prep for a weekend of camping or racing. He rarely complains, is often the last to go to bed, and is always down to off-road. Its hard not to love a kid like that, whether he’s your own or not.
The story behind his new Polaris RZR 170 dates back to the 2017 UTV World Championship. His big brother Enzo was stepping into a brand new 2017 Polaris Ace 150 for the weekend which meant Baby C would finally inherit our older 2013 Polaris RZR 170. It would be his first race as a driver and we worked day and night for over a week leading up to the UTVWC to get that RZR 170 ready. After a couple of all nighters trying to prep the machine and repair what we thought was a bad electrical issue (turned out to be a dirty carburetor) we were ready to load up and head to worlds. Baby C drove his sputtering 170 to the trailer to load, it would be the last machine into the trailer and we had to pull out immediately. We had decided to address the dirty carb at worlds. As I pointed him up the trailer he gave it some gas and BANG! There went the transmission. Gear grinding ensued and we knew right there our old trusty 170 wouldn’t be making the trip. The tears immediately came from his then 8 year old eyes, I fought them off myself.
A life lesson was in order at that moment. I leaned down to console him and I asked him “we tried everything we could right son?” he responded “yes”, I told him this is how it goes sometimes, but the important thing was that we tried everything we could to get it ready and sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. I explained that we needed to be proud of how hard and how long we worked to repair and prepare his vehicle and then fact that it broke now was much better than it breaking a lap into the race on the side of the course. Being the great person he is, he nodded his head and he thanked me and apologized for it not working out. He knew how hard I was trying to get that thing dialed in. I made every call I could those days leading up and everyone chipped in what they could to help me figure it out. Again, it just wasn’t meant to be.
The BREAKDOWN from our old RZR 170 build…
We pushed the RZR 170 back into the garage, the ultimate walk of shame, and as he dried his tears he found some sense of a silver lining in that he would still get to ride with someone in the race. He had ridden with his brother the year prior in that same RZR and was really looking forward to driving for the first time, but he knew there were other kids that would kill to just be able to ride and because of friends he knew he would still be able to participate as a co-dog for one of his many racer friends. He did not complain once despite his dreams being crushed.
Now, I will call in favors when I have too, and luckily I am surrounded by people who are always willing to support my crazy ideas. I think anyone who knows me, knows that when it comes to kids I am the first to line up to support and help when I can. As we pulled away to the world championships, my family was all a little down but we all continued to be positive to help C understand that this is just life and things could always be worse. It was at that moment that my phone rang, and it just happened to be my great friend and big boss at Polaris, Craig Scanlon. We began to talk the usual racing stuff. I help Craig out with his SMG racing program so we were talking about that. He asked what I was up to and I told him on our way to worlds. I then told him what happened to Baby C’s RZR as we were loading. Craig has become family to us, our kids spend time together, many of our conversations include the kids listening in as we drive on speaker phone. He is always up to date on their sports, events and of course racing and it goes both ways.
It took Craig all of about 10 seconds to hear what I was saying and as I was explaining just how broke up C was but how good he was being about it, Craig did what he so often does to me and says “I will call you right back”.. he then hung up.
He called me back within a minute or so and said “Boone (Matt) will call you in a minute. I am going to make sure Baby C gets to race”. Before we knew it Craig and his staff at Polaris had us lined up with a brand new 170 to pick up on our way to worlds to then prepare to get ready. Baby C went to another level of excitement, my entire family including myself was overwhelmed. Its good to have friends in high places, but its even better when those friends care for you enough to go out of their way in times like this. Its amazing how things work out sometimes, I said a little prayer to thank the man above and of course thanked Craig, Boone and Polaris for the opportunity. Baby C was going racing!
We did what we could that weekend to get the RZR 170 race legal. Anthony Gonzales of Gonzales Bros Racing made some calls and had a cage delivered thanks to the great people at Hok9 Racing. Anthony even grabbed the RZR from the dealership in Boulder which was still in a crate and delivered right to contingency where me and anyone with a pulse around jumped in to assemble it. I ran over to PRP and confiscated a set of harnesses and then to PCI for numbers, and Baby C and our family began to thrash to customize the RZR with about $1000 in UTVUnderground.com stickers… Would have been cheaper to have a wrap made…
He made it to the start line and had the time of his life. Spotting for him was such a joy and despite the stresses of actually owning and operating the race, for that hour of racing I was in my happy place. Watching my youngest son and oldest live out their dreams, and live my own. I can’t express just how happy it made me to see everything come together and I still can’t thank everyone who chipped in enough.
With the UTVWC weekend complete all Baby C wanted to talk about was building his RZR. We have had talks with Pete Corwin at Got Sand Performance for a long time and he even helped get our old chassis up to snuff. Pete is one of, if not the top builder in the United States when it comes to custom RZR 170 race chassis. He wanted to do the build and so it began.
Like any build I do we made a plan. I relied heavily on Pete for his expertise on what we should run and what would make this not only a fun and competitive race vehicle but also still feasible for recreational use. Despite Baby C’s desire to race everything my schedule still limits my ability to get them to every race and be race dad so we want to use it when we can at desert trips. Pete began his work and I began mine and thats leveraging my contacts for as much sponsorship as possible to build one ultimate RZR 170!
Pete went to work to build us a chassis that weighs in with Baby C in it at less than 700 lbs. Its light and quick despite it still having a totally stock engine. Sparks Racing jumped in to give the RZR some pep and sound by supplying their awesome stainless steel exhaust and fuel programmer. While at Pete’s shop, former UTVWC RZR 170 champion Casey Sims came by with his father Jason and surprised Baby C with one of their fine tuned Sims188 Racing clutches! Pete recommended Cognito Motorsports transmission pinion shaft upgrade and of course I had been eyeballing their awesome RZR 170 suspension as well. They shipped us all the parts including their steering kit as well. On our old 170 we had used Rhino billet wheel spacers but for this go around we went all out and ran the Lone Star Racing extended rear axle. We rounded out the suspension with Walker Evans Racing coil over remote resi shocks & Factory UTV rear swing arm skid protection.
With chassis, power, and suspension out of the way we moved into safety. I saw the new Simpson Aggressor RZR 170 seats at the Sand Sports Super Show and knew those were the hot ticket. They look great and seating position is perfect for Baby C. We added in some Simpson 2×2 5-point safety harnesses and wrist restraints as well. All the big boys in racing are running the awesome MPI steering wheel products so I called Max Pappis directly and he jumped in to support the build with one of his awesome rubber gripped MPI race wheels. Relations Race Wheels (RRW) supplied an amazing new compact billet steering wheel disconnect to round out the steering and Jason Sims of Sims188 Racing helped finish up and set up the custom steering shaft to accept it.
We were running short on time to get the 170 done for Camp RZR so we didn’t have the time we wanted to powdercoat my then Black & Red OMF Performance wheels, so Anthony Gonzales of Gonzales Bros. Racing came by and bolted up a set of their blue & black OMF’s with tires to the machine to make sure we matched up! The OMF Performance wheels are amazing!!
With the machine about done we had we had to cap it off with a custom graphics package. Baby C wanted a Blue, Black and White car to contrast his brothers Red, Black & White Ace 150 so thats what he got. Andrew at ProLineWraps.com did what he does on almost all of our builds and thats knock out an over the top graphics wrap for the build. His graphics almost always take builds to that next level and it for sure set off our RZR 170.
Not pictured are our PCI Race Radios race package that allows us to spot Baby C when racing or playing and his 2ft blue LED whip from Buggy Whip Inc.. Both of these products I feel help us identify C when racing and keep him safer and give us piece of mind!!
With the build complete and a couple weekends of play & testing the family headed to Parker, AZ for the opening weekend of racing at the 2018 BITD series. They hosted a youth race as part of the UTV Winter Nationals event and both boys got a chance to compete in the stock class. While Enzo showed he had what it takes to run in his ACE 150, Baby C got the chance to wheel his new race vehicle and see where he stacked up. Off the line he called out over the radio with excitement that he got the “second place hole-shot” lol, whatever that means, but as he battled off the line big brother who actually was much slower out of the gate (bad start) called out to me on the radio “heck yeah, Baby C is on it”! I can’t tell you how stoked I was at that moment to hear big brother who was in his own race stoked that little brother was running out in front of him. These boys love each other and in that split second it reminded me just how much.
Watching the boys race and have the times of their lives is really why we do this. Sure, you can go macro and talk about the life lessons, responsibility, discipline and all the other tangible lessons that come along with competition. But ultimately for me, its about doing something with my family that we will forever remember. I am not trying to develop the next Bryce Menzies or RJ Anderson. I am trying to develop memories and give my kids opportunities others including myself only dream about. Baby C has one radical machine thanks to some amazing partners, but they didn’t just give us an awesome vehicle for racing or playing. They gave us a vehicle that further bonds me with my children. They gave us a vehicle that furthers the fostering of the next generation of off-road enthusiasts and racers. They gave my family and I memories, stories and a period in life that we will immortalize through tales of competition for years to come.
On behalf of my family, UTVUnderground and of course Baby C, we want to thank Polaris for investing into the future of off-road by developing the Polaris RZR 170. We want to thank Craig and his staff for making this new build a possibility when the chips were down, literally… A huge thank you goes out to Pete Corwin of Got Sand Performance for not only offering to take this build on but for doing it on time and for remaining both professional and courteous through the ENTIRE process, I highly recommend him. Of course all of the partners who supplied products and supported the project from day 1, we are forever grateful. And to those additional sponsors who in some way have played a role to make sure Baby C gets to go out and have the time of his life; The Gonzales Family, The Quintero Family, The Sims Family, The Anderson Family, The Scanlon Motorsports Group, and all the sponsors, THANK YOU ALL!!
See you at the 2018 Polaris RZR UTV World Championship’s!
Model: 2017 Polaris RZR 170 EFI
Owner: Cristian “Baby C” DiGiovanni – UTVUnderground
Builder: Got Sand Performance
Chassis: Got Sand Performance
Suspension – Front: Cognito Motorsports Long Travel Kit & Steering Kit
Suspension – Rear: Lone Star Racing Extended Rear Axle
Shocks: Walker Evans Racing 1.75″ Coil Over
Engine: Stock Factory RZR 170 EFI
Transmission: Cognito Motorsports Trans Pinion Shaft Upgrade
Exhaust: Sparks Racing Stainless Exhaust System
Clutch: Sims188 Racing RZR 170
Fuel Programmer: Sparks Racing FS Fusion EFI Controller
Skid Protection: Factory UTV Rear Swing Arm Skid
Seats: Simpson – Aggressor RZR 170 Suspension Seat
Harnesses: Simpson – 2×2 5-Point
Steering Wheel: MPI Wheel w/ Relations Race Wheels (RRW) Billet Disconnect
Wheels: OMF Performance 3-Piece Billet Beadlocks
Communications: PCI Race Radios
Whip: Buggy Whip Inc.
Additional Sponsors: Gonzales Bros. Racing – Scanlon Motorsports Group – RJ37 Off-Road – Quintero Racing – Sims188 Racing – Impact
Photos by: Daniel Schenkelberg & Harlen Foley // UTVUnderground.com