How to Take Your UTV from the Showroom to a Sanctioned Event

Click Here to Begin Slideshow In certain areas of the USA, UTV racing is the most popular form of racing there is. One reason is that, unlike in most other forms of sanctioned racing, you can be an average middle class person and be successful. UTV racing is the only type of professional racing that will allow someone with a “9-5” to be competitive at the professional level.

How to Take Your UTV from the Showroom to a Sanctioned Event

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

In certain areas of the USA, UTV racing is the most popular form of racing there is. One reason is that, unlike in most other forms of sanctioned racing, you can be an average middle class person and be successful. UTV racing is the only type of professional racing that will allow someone with a “9-5” to be competitive at the professional level.

Starting is Quick and Easy

You could theoretically buy something like a Polaris RZR on Friday and be racing in a points event on Saturday. There really isn’t another type of sanctioned racing where you can do this at this price point. RacingJunk spoke with a shop that performs these conversions and “just a guy with a regular job who happens to race UTVs professionally.”

Most Sport/Performance UTVs are Almost Race-Ready from the Factory

There’s no shame in thinking that a UTV is the same thing as an ATV or side-by-side. Cosmetically, they are the same thing. However, they differ in the capabilities of the suspension and the engine. Most ATVs are for work - hunting, farming, etc. Sure, you can have a damn good time playing around with them in the mud, but most are designed mainly for work.

The Difference in Performance

UTVs can work just as well as ATVs can. However, if you want to head out to the desert and imitate RJ Anderson, a stock ATV won’t cut it. In the linked video, RJ Anderson is using an almost stock Polaris RZR UTV. The value of the RZR UTV in the video isn’t much more than what you’d pay at the local Polaris dealership. Put it this way: It costs less to make a Polaris RZR ready to perform well in professional UTV racing classes than it does to make a Dodge Challenger Demon NHRA legal for the class it’s technologically capable of achieving at the pro levels.

UTV Racing is Like the Mamba: How Radical (Low) Do You Want to Go?

There are points/money/trophy-earning pro classes across the country where a completely bone-stock UTV is all the vehicle you need, as long as it has a proper safety cage and secure seating and belts. The main requirement in this class and series is personal protective equipment - you basically have to be dressed like a NASCAR or NHRA driver. Competitors must also have safety radios - “Hey guys, I’m alive!”

“Best in the Desert” (BITD) requirements are more team-oriented. Since these are relatively long events, there will be pit stops. Your pit crew needs to have some safety equipment - at a minimum, a fire extinguisher. The rules also mandate the actual “fueler” be wearing a fire suit.

Meeting the Minimums

“Best in the Desert” (BITD) requirements are more team-oriented. Since these are relatively long events, there will be pit stops. Your pit crew needs to have some safety equipment - at a minimum, a fire extinguisher. The rules also mandate the actual “fueler” be wearing a fire suit.

A Closer Look at the Pro Stock UTV Classes

As mentioned above, the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Turbo classes in BITD and the UTV Championship are basically UTVs that come off the showroom floor and right into competition with just minor safety mods. The seats and harnesses might need to be swapped out to meet specs. You’ll probably need to install competition window nets on both sides.

No Limits at the Top

These two sanctioning bodies set minimum requirements for their “entry level pro classes,” but they really don’t put much of a ceiling on the requirements. This means you might have someone who bought a Polaris RZR and added a window net racing against someone in a Husqvarna with a window net, extended travel suspension and new competition seats, and someone else in a Can-Am with a window net, matching racing seats and harnesses, extended travel suspension with shocks and external reservoirs and modified differential gearing.

What’s It Cost to Get into UTV Racing from Scratch?

The first question someone thinking about getting into UTV racing at the entry professional level will have is, “How much will it cost me to get started?” That depends on a number of things. What Polaris calls their "Xtreme Performance" versions of the RZR range from about $14k to about $30k depending on features. Can-Am’s Maverick X3 Turbo starts from about $20k and is a basic Pro Stock Turbo UTV. Other than the cost of buying the vehicle, getting YOU legal for racing is the most expensive proposition of the two entry level UTV racing classes.

Every class requires a window net at an average cost of $13. Also as mentioned above, you need basic PPE - firesuit, helmet, gloves, booties and neck/head restraint system (HANS Device). Firesuits can be had for as low as $300 if you look hard enough. Helmets can be had for about a hundred bucks. Head and neck restraints can be found for as low as $400-$500.

Your Pit Crew May Be More Expensive Than You Are

UTV races are endurance races. This means that things are going to break and you will need to make scheduled pit stops for tires and fuel. Ergo, you need a pit crew. Your average thermoplastic fuel container is all the rules require. However, the crew member who empties that bottle has to be wearing a full firesuit with helmet, gloves, booties and apron.

Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’re going to experience at least one flat tire over the course of a racing weekend. This means your pit crew is going to need at least two tires for each corner and a way to fix flats between changes. Stage 4 of an event may start at ten at night, so your pit crew might need a generator and a couple of work/flood lights.

Safety Lights are the Major Cosmetic Modification Racing Requires

Most “sport” or “performance” UTVs are almost race-ready once a net is installed. However, the sanctioning bodies also require a safety light. This is a light bar with flashing blue and orange or red lights. This light must be visible from anywhere behind the vehicle and the lights must flash so as to be more noticeable. This makes it easier for vehicles overtaking you to see you.

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About Mike Aguilar 275 Articles
Mike's love of cars began in the early 1970's when his father started taking him to his Chevron service station. He's done pretty much everything in the automotive aftermarket from gas station island attendant, parts counter, mechanic, and new and used sales. Mike also has experience in the amateur ranks of many of racing's sanctioning bodies.

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