Working in the “Industry” seems to breed opportunity like no other. Over the years, contacts become great friends, and great friends become great contacts. Twenty years of racing ATV’s has been an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world, but it’s the people, or my extended “racing family” that have made the biggest impact on my life and direction. As of recent, a handful of race related injuries left me looking for a safer way to keep competing and still be part of the scene. The inception of the RZR XP was my calling card, I drove a XP900 for a few different races with scattered success. My friend Clint Roberts also happened to catch the UTV bug about that same time. Clint owned an ATV aluminum protection company called Blingstar Industries and was taking notice of the immense growth of the UTV segment as well. Blingstar jumped head first into producing UTV parts, and the idea for a Blingstar UTV team became a reality shortly there after.
Clint and I raced the 2013 WORCS series and did pretty well. My XP900 had quite a bit of time on it, but we got it pretty dialed in with the help of a few key sponsors. I finished out the season 4th in the highly contested Pro 1000 class only a point out of 3rd. I was excited for 2014 and spent the offseason rebuilding and trying to bulletproof the same 900 race car, while Clint would be contesting on Polaris’s new XP1000. I thought that with the proper set-up, and a little motor work, the XP900 would be every bit as competitive as the new 1000’s. The first few rounds proved me wrong. I found myself chasing my tail with a few unexpected wear failures, and also a little short in the HP department.
Opportunity Knocks Twice!
Joey D. of UTVUnderground.com happens to be another one of those industry contacts turned friends that always seems to have my back. We both have a passion for Off-Road Racing, and I have run into him in the middle of Baja on more than one occasion. Joey, Clint and I were all sitting at the Tree Bar discussing life, families, racing and the odds getting passed by your own wheel on the track. I had followed up a 4th place season with back to back DNF’s, a worn out starter one-way was the culprit at Taft and then today’s broken wheel studs. As I walked away to hit the boy’s room, Joey and Clint concocted a co-op plan to put me in a newer, more competitive car.
Coming back to the conversation, refreshed and with a whole new outlook on the evening, Joey explained that UTVUnderground had an available XP1000. A co-op project with UTVUnderground.com / Blingstar and me driving was in my future. I was absolutely stoked at the idea but we still had to work out the details, most importantly we needed to a special fabricator for the build, someone as passionate we were about the idea. As this was a handshake deal between three good friends, my first thought was to tie in another. Over another round of ice cold barley pops, I asked Joey what he thought of my friend Hector at GlazzKraft, Joey’s eyes lit up with excitement and I knew we had our man.
Hector builds the sickest fiberglass body kit’s you’ve ever seen for a UTV, but he is also one heck of a fabricator. I have known Hector personally for almost fifteen years but never had the opportunity to work with him and his new company. Joey on the other hand, had recently met him and worked with him on a couple very unique feature builds. The GlazzKraft builds are some of the trickest UTV’s you will ever lay eyes on. If Hector is involved with it, it’s gonna be cool, and it’s gonna work as good as it looks.
As soon as we got back from the races, I set up a meeting with Clint and Hector to get the ball rolling. The idea was to build a car that was legal for both WORCS and LOORS, and then feature it on UTV Underground as well as at multiple other events throughout the year. Hector had a few cool ideas, and quickly offered to take on the build. At this point time was our biggest enemy as we had a bone stock car and wanted to debut it two weeks later at the Sand Hollow WORCS race.
GlazzKraft would build the cage, roof, window nets, relocate the radiator, and build heavy duty radius rods. Typically our WORCS cars would feature Blingstar’s aluminum opening doors, but the LOORS rulebook requires welded doors. To keep it looking like the team car’s Hector decided to use Blingstar’s doors as template when bending the door bars. The cage came out phenomenal, the Blingstar inspired flare is eye catching and really looks pro. What’s more is that he copied the bend so well that our graphics template from the Blingstar doors still fit perfectly on the new panels. The GlazzKraft cage was constructed out of both DOM and Chromoly for maximum safety and minimal weight. Hector’s other focus was keeping the cage as low as possible to bring down the center of gravity. GlazzKraft actually lowered the drivers seat nearly four inches to allow for adequate head room with our race cage. We went with the ultra-comfortable Beard Torque seats that were specifically designed to fit within the slightly narrower cab of the XP1000. They come ready to bolt directly to your stock seat-pan/latching mechanism, but GlazzKraft opted to bolt them directly in place for the lowest possible set-up. Under the seat, we used an ultra light-weight Shorai lithium battery that saves more than 20 pounds from the massive lead-acid filled stocker. Another advantage to the Shorai was that we could mount it on it’s side allowing the seat even more room to be dropped.
GlazzKraft built relocation brackets for the stock radiator and developed a hose kit to re-plumb it to the back. The most common problem when racing a RZR XP is a mud/roost clogged radiator causing overheat and the dreaded limp mode. The stock radiator is more than adequate for most applications, but it needs to be moved up out of the way of muddy roost. GlazzKraft also built a killer looking fiberglass roof for our XP. WORCS requires a “roof” but LOORS requires a aluminum or metal roof. Hector came up with a trick aluminum roof insert so that we can still run his trick looking fiberglass roof but pass the stricter LOORS tech inspection. The radius rods are a known weak link on the stock XP suspension. GlazzKraft built super-beefy radius rods with massive heim joints on both ends. Hector opts for overkill and a little extra weight on these after witnessing failures in the competitions lighter weight rods. I slid sideways into the concrete K-Rail at the recent TerraCross opener, actually did it probably four different laps and smashed a wheel pretty good but the radius rods took the abusive impact without any damage.
With the core of the car built, it was time for a serious suspension upgrade. We had already been working with another friend, Tony Cuva at JRI Shocks since the beginning of the year. JRI is a massive suspension company with nearly unlimited technical resources. JRI has just recently gotten into the Side by Side market, but they have an impressive background in Nascar, SX and even F1 racing. Our car would be using JRI’s new ECX 3 shock absorber. The ECX 3 uses a 2.5″ shock body and reservoir with a massive 7/8″ shaft. The stock XP1000 shock shafts are prone to breaking under extreme use, and the massive JRI shafts are as tough as you can get. The ECX 3 is high and low speed compression adjustable and rebound adjustable. The JRI shocks feature an incredible range of external adjustment. With the standard off-the-shelf valving, and proper spring rates, you can externally adjust for just about anything. Even with pretty major differences between cars, we have been able to find happy settings with pretty much identical shocks. I just drove the TireBlocks car for the Baja 500 and it used identical shocks to this GlazzKraft car. They were able to fine tune their SCORE legal desert car with 30″ tires from the same starting point as our much lighter weight WORCS car with 28″ tires.
Speaking of tires, rolling stock was the next very important addition to the build. Traction, weight and flat prevention are all things to consider when looking for the perfect wheel and tire set up. I feel I’m pretty close with my current set-up. The DWT Ultimate Beadlock is almost identical in design to what I use on my race quads. A spun aluminum wheel with an outer beadlock, a rolled lip on the inside for additional strength, and a three piece reinforced center plate. We opt for the skinnier 14×7 wheels all the way around, wrapped in 6 ply 28″x10″x14″ DWT Moapa tires. Even this skinnier tire size option features a wide contact patch for optimal traction, and the wrapped tread design wards off flats.
Instead of using the optional heavier 12 Ply run flat tires, we prefer the feel and performance of the standard 6 ply with TireBlocks as our run-flat option. The TireBlocks system uses multiple lubed foam wedges inside each tire to support the sidewall in the event of a flat. With our TireBlocks installed, you can pull the valve cores and you would barely be able to tell a difference. We opt to run 13 PSI on top of the Blocks as it provides the optimal handling and increases Block life.
Two nights before Sand Hollow, and just days after dropping off the stock car, we pulled an all nighter at GlazzKraft’s shop Rosarito finishing up the final details and getting some killer behind the scenes Tony Lozza images. After driving pretty much straight to Utah for the WORCS race, I met with my friends from Pro Motosports for a final addition before hitting the starting line. My friend Jesse of Pro MotoSports is another one that would never leave you hanging. With only a couple hours to spare, they removed the secondary clutch and installed the ever-important Team Industries “hardened” sprague gear and cleaned and inspected the rest of the clutch at the same time. The Sand Hollow round went as well as could be expected without making Friday’s practice. The RZR handled great , but I missed a few of the better lines on the first couple laps and was able to salvage an 8th out of 28 Pro’s. That first race in the new car was a blast. The excitement of being back in the mix with almost thirty top racers racers was enough to leave me looking for room to improve. The first thing I had noticed about the new car was that we had forgotten to build an entrance step, and it was nearly impossible to get in the new race car. The solid doors combined with the low cage left you looking like a contortionist trying to step from a tire and fold your body into the window opening. As it turned out, I had the answer to this problem sitting in my garage. The Pure Polaris Nerf bars worked out perfectly for an entrance step as well as protecting the side of the RZR from contact. These Polaris-built nerfs are made of reasonably lightweight aluminum, and they mount in seconds with Polaris’s trick cam-lock bolt set up.
The other thing I really wanted was to add a steering quickener before we visited some of the tighter WORCS courses this year. I called Shawn Hess at Hess Motorsports and he ended up sponsoring both the team cars with his billet 2:1 steering quickener. The Hess quickener is a very trick rear reduction quickener that is housed in Hess’s trick billet housing, and then adapted to a quick release racing steering wheel. The Hess Quickener cuts the amount of necessary steering in half steer from lock to lock. With it installed, you can actually drive the RZR without ever having to cross over your hands at the steering wheel. This leads to more precise handling, quicker reaction time, and less effort and fatigue.
With the GlazzKraft car a little more dialed in we headed to the Ridgecrest WORCS round. Starting the season off with multiple DNF’s made for a back row start and a crazy desert dust storm left the track with about 5 foot visibility in many sections. Ridgecrest quickly turned into more of a survival test than a race. The car handled great, as we drove cautiously to a 6th place finish. Not the podium or the real all-out test we were looking for, but finishing races is always a good thing.
This past weekend at Terracross Rds. 1&2, we were able to show up ready to race. Perfect weather, no crazy windstorms and a dialed in car. Seeding for the Pro qualifier class was pretty empty on Saturday as all the west coast UTV guys were at the Lucas Oil Regional in Lake Elsinore. We played with the suspension settings, lowering ride height a bit to help with the hard 180* corners. The tougher corners were coming directly off concrete straightaways, turning into dirt sections. Lowering the ride height and adding some compression at all four corners was a big advantage compared to our WORCS set up. The lowered car would slide confidently on the pavement heading into the turns, but traction was still very sketchy with all the loose dirt that was getting thrown onto the concrete sections. The course fun double jumps, tire obstacles and whoop sections but no rocks. With our DWT beadlock and TireBlock combo we were also able to drop tire pressure down to 10psi, which really helped with traction and keeping the car from spinning out. Sunday’s Pro-Qualifier Terracross race had a great turnout with 14 more cars showing up from the LOORS race that took place on Saturday. The GlazzKraft car took advantage of front row starts in the qualifier, mixing it up a little before pulling off a win. The Blingstar/Glazzkraft XP1K was flawless all day. As mentioned ealier, I slammed the rear tire violently into a k-rail multiple times in the same concrete left hander. Many of the stock SPEC class cars ended there race with broken radius rods in this same turn. The GlazzKraft car continually this used this same K-rail to straighten out it’s slide without any real damage. The rear beadlock ring took a pretty loud beating but it was still hanging tough, and the overbuilt GlazzKraft radius rods kept the suspension straight and functioning flawlessly for a win.
Overall, the Blingstar/ GlazzKraft car is a winner. Polaris continues to up the ante with bigger and better UTV models and GlazzKraft was able to build it into an amazing looking race car in less than two weeks. I’m sure it’s a work in progress, but the overall car is still very close to stock. Even with the stock suspension components and motor the XP1K is amazingly competitive. Polaris seems to have really done their homework with this one as none of the louder, built motor cars seemed to really have a noticeable power advantage over it. A big heart felt Thank You to Joey and the guys at UTVUnderground.com for making this a reality, Polaris for supplying such a killer platform for us to race, and Blingstar, GlazzKraft, JRI, TireBlocks, DWT Racing, and Beard Seats for all the support. We look forward to finishing out the WORCS series up front and trying our hand at the LOORS with this eye-catching XP1000.
Words By: Nick Nelson
Photos By: Tony Lozza, Rusty Baptist, Harlen Foley, and Joe Wiegele
Driver: Nick Nelson
Chassis: 2014 Polaris XP 1000
Cage: GlazzKraft Fabrication LOORS Spec
Front A-Arms: Factory
Rear Arms: Factory
Rear Radius Links: GlazzKraft Fabrication
Shocks: JRI ECX 3 Triple Rate Coil Overs with adjustable Hi-Lo Speed Compression and Rebound
Sway Bar: Factory
Engine: Stock ProStar XP1000
Battery: Shorai Lithium Ion
Wheels: 14″x7″ DWT Racing Ultimate BeadLocks
Tires: DWT 28″ 6 ply Moapa’s
Run Flat System: TireBlocks Run Flat System
Bumpers: Blingstar Industries
Seats: Beard Torque Suspension Seats
Safety: Beard Seats 5-Point 3″X3″ Safety Harnesses
Steering Wheel & Quickener: Hess Motorsports 2:1
Graphics: SSI Decals
Lighting: LAZER STAR Lighting
Communications: PCI Race Radio’s