How did the relationship with Polaris and Craig Scanlon form? When did you start racing in a Polaris RZR?
Bill – Craig is actually one of the first contacts that we ever made with Polaris when they walked in here the very first time and interviewed us. It was Craig and one of the engineers Jim that walked in and sat at this desk. We had been in this office for a week. We had just purchased this building.
Brandon – It was kind of a dead rush. We were working out of the back of my dad’s shop and we’ve kind of outgrown it and it was time to move. So we bought this place and we got a phone call during the move and build process from someone at Polaris. I think it was Craig and it was basically “We want to come visit you guys”. I hung up the phone and I’m like I got a phone call from Polaris, and they want to come visit us. I hope it’s not a bad thing..
So it was a dead sprint to get in this office. I think we were in this office for a week, it looked immaculate. The place was perfect. It was spotless. It was brand new, a brand new building. Awesome fully filled show room, clean back shop. A clean bathroom. It didn’t look like a shop. It looked like a brand new building. It looked good and so we sat down and had our meeting with them, and what’s funny about the meeting they’re like, okay, you guys, you’re allowed two people in the meeting, and it’s like we’re a three man team it’s me, my dad, my brother. That’s a package deal. That’s how it works. They said only two of you could be in the meeting and we’re like, well, unless they’re all going to be here, none of us are going to see the meeting. Okay, we’ll let it slide, here, you need to sign this.
Bill – It was like men in black. I thought they were going to flash us with that pen and erase our memories. But long story short, the meeting was about the introduction of the RZR at that point and nobody had seen the RZR yet and they were looking for basically aftermarket development partners, to basically go along with the launch of the RZR so that they had people in the aftermarket that were already familiar with the vehicle and could help to promote the vehicle as the new latest, greatest thing, which we did, and it did work, because it is.
Part of the deal was, we got a couple of RZRs to customize and then, about a week into the deal, they call us again and said “Hey, you know, we’re looking at all your stuff here and it looks like you guys are a racing a Yamaha Rhino, that doesn’t really work for us. Can you race one of these RZRs in the class that you’re racing?” And I said I think we can. So we had to create another race car, the very first racing RZR ever built. That was it. That was ours.
Brandon – In three weeks, Yea our next race was in three weeks, they were like “Can you get this done?” And we said we’re going to have to.
Bill – That was the Pahrump Nugget 250 in 2007. It was at the end of 2007, wait, was that in November or December? They’ve must of changed dates on it cause it was earlier.
Brandon – Oh it was earlier, wasn’t it? Because we raced Parker in a Rhino. Yeah, whole new graphic scheme, we redid everything on the rhino we had just repainted it and then we got the news that we need to build the rzr. So we raced Parker, we DNF-ed that race of course, because that’s what we did in a Rhino.
Bill – Ha ha, and then we showed up next race, that was the second race of the year at the time, we showed up in a Polaris RZR.
Brandon – It was stock suspension, we didn’t have the time to do long travel on it. We had a set of aftermarket shocks for it that we bolted on, that I’m pretty sure they blew up in the first hundred miles or so, not even, so we put a set of stock shocks back on it and it was a rough race.
I was actually supposed to drive at that first race in Pahrump in the RZR , but I was still in high school, so I decided I was going to go to prom instead, prom fell on the same weekend as that and I was supposed to go prom, and because of the whole girlfriend thing you’re supposed to do that kind of stuff, so my dad said “okay, you’re not going to be there? Looks like I’m going racing.” so my dad filled in my spot and then I ended up not going to prom and I tried getting my seat back and he said no. He wouldn’t give me my seat back, he said “you were going to go to prom and I’m racing now”. So he and Blake Van De Loo ended up taking the RZR to the finish line and took fourth in the very first race. We had no test time in the car, I mean out of the box, stock shocks, had a fuel cell, cage and seats, pretty much as stock as they can get.
Bill – We blew a belt before the first pit stop, I think mile 19. We made the first pit closing time by three seconds, back then we started behind everybody[all the classes] and then we caught up along the way and we ended up being okay.
Brandon – But that was kind of the storyline of UTV racing when we first started racing, we chased pit closing times. We started at the back of the pack and it was literally that. I mean, you have one problem and then you’re chasing those times from then on out for the rest of the day, the night, whatever it is and you’re just hoping that you could make up a little bit of time to get ahead of that clock. And we just barely had enough time to finish the race. We used the maximum amount time.
Brandon – When we first started, if you finished a race in a UTV you basically won. When we first started. It’s changed drastically since then. Almost instantly when the RZR started getting popular. It became more and more reliable, you didn’t have to build them quite as extreme to be competitive.
The change has been so drastic in 10 years, if you were to park the 800 RZR next to the Turbo S you would think the 800 was an RC car, almost. The change has been so, so drastic.
Bill – Every new platform that Polaris has introduced since that 800 RZR has been like a whole new chapter in the book, and there’s no telling what’s going to happen next. I don’t remember what those cars had for ground clearance, but they came with 25” tires,
Brandon – When we did long travel, we added 6” per side, so we were just over a foot wider plus offset on the wheels. So we were running 27” tall tires, which was huuuge at that time, and now they come stock with 32” tires, turbo charged and nearly 200 horsepower, and how it’s changed it’s absolutely incredible.
Bill – When we got in a RZR for the very first time, you’d push on the gas and you went holy smoke. We were coming from a 26MPH rhino, and these things ran 55 miles per hour.
Bill – I mean Class 10 cars don’t go much faster than that. They creep just barely over a hundred miles per hour. As we encroach 100 miles per hour, we’re going to stay in that top echelon of vehicles for these races. You know, having four wheel drive obviously makes a huge difference, well in any of the desert racing.
Brandon – Especially at those softer races, Baja races, Silver state is usually pretty bad, Parker too. It’s pretty incredible what you can pick through, it’s a nice tight, compact little car, four wheel drive, and you don’t really have to worry about silt beds. I mean trenches mess you up, but it is what it is. You just kind of pick your line and truck along.
Speaking of the new car, you’ve been posting on social media about it, do you want to say anything about that?
Brandon – Other than that we’re excited about it, we think it’s an awesome platform. Our plan is not to change the suspension geometry at all. Polaris has done an awesome job with that. They’ve got a lot of time and effort designing that suspension that works really well, there’s no reason to change it. We’re not going any wider or anything with it. With that said, I think it’s going to be a really sweet platform.
We’re building it a little different than my current race car, but I’m not reinventing the wheel at all. When we built that other car, we built it in a huge time crunch, it was slap the car together get it on the race track.
Bill – We took a few shortcuts we normally wouldn’t when we build a race car.
Brandon – I never took the time to change them how I normally would build a car. That’s constantly in the back of my mind. That car works, and it performs well, it does everything it needs to do. It’s just as strong. It’s just built differently than I normally would build a race car.
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What does a typical day at Jagged X look like?
Bill – I roll out out of bed about 8 or so, have some coffee on the patio, walk the dog, do a few honey do’s around the house, do a little gardening. I roll in around 11.
Brandon – If that. He gets a phone call around 11 “where are you at?” To which he’ll reply “I’m at at my actual job, where I make a living, I’ll be there at some point”.
Bill – No, you actually want to know what Brandon’s itinerary for a normal day.
Brandon – I’m here every day. Some days are harder than others. But it’s prepping the cars, we do have a customers car here that we’re doing a full race prep on. He’s actually planning on racing the whole racing series, so before every race we want to make sure his car is top notch and ready to go. We go testing with him if needed, typically we will do that out of town somewhere. And then obviously we’ve got my car.
So order all the parts, reply to emails and calls and all the office stuff. But the stuff in the shop, is the race car and the race prep. Tear it down make sure nothing’s broken, and go through and repair all the CVs, all the clutches, we go through the transmission and differentials. Motor stuff typically stays the same, but check for any cracks in the frame and suspension, go through all the shocks, axles all that stuff. Tear down the car, put it back together. And by that time it’s time to race again. If we have four weeks, we take four weeks, if we have two weeks, we take two weeks. You always run out of time.
Bill – Yeah, the days become increasingly longer as it gets closer to the race. Every time. Every. Time.
Brandon – But yeah, that’s part of the deal. Then there’s chase truck prep. Then there’s motorhomes and trailers that have to get loaded and looked over too. Just kind of depends on the race, every race is a little bit different. You finish a race, you look at the next one, and you try and put a game plan together and figure out a way to handle all of that.