The sales of sport model UTV’s in the past three years has been phenomenal. And with so many race capable machines out there – we wanted to take a moment to recap the many different ways to get your UTV on the track or in a pack, and rub doors. YES – you can race your sport model UTV and NO, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Some of the series listed bellow only require minimal safety equipment such as doors, bumpers and a racing harness. Others require an aftermarket cage and upgraded fuel cell. But think of it this way – every dollar you invest in making your UTV race ready – is a dollar you’ve invested into making it stronger, faster, and safer.
The list bellow of UTV race leagues is by no means complete. It would take an entire issue to run down all of them and include all the info you’ll need to get ready to compete. But this is a solid rundown on many of the major UTV race series’ in North America. There are many more in Canada and Mexico, and more emerging every day across the world and North America for that matter. These are the races we see the biggest crowds at, the sponsors flock to, and the ones that get television coverage nationwide. Obviously you can get more details on each by visiting their websites. We also recommend their YouTube pages too so you can see what kind of racing they feature. We also recommend the UTVUnderground.com YouTube page for their excellent coverage of many of these races.
There are two broad categories of off-road UTV racing in the U.S. – short course and desert. We’ve picked the top three leagues in each category, and also threw in a few honorable mentions that you may want to check out. Whatever you choose, and no matter where you are from – we invite you to strap in and drop the pedal.
GNCC – gnccracing.com – youtube.com/GNCCVideos
When you Google “UTV Racing” one of the top results is GNCC – and for good reason. They are one of the oldest and best organized motorcycle and ATV race organizations in America. With roots stretching back to the 1970’s, they’ve enjoyed a host of dedicated event organizers and sponsors for several decades. This year there are thirteen rounds of competition and six of them include UTV racing. The courses are typically a combination of wooded areas with trails, and open grass or dirt areas for “land rush” starts and passing. They have a fantastic website with a great FAQ’s section that will get you up to speed fast on how to prep your vehicle, select a class, and get into a race. The folks on the ground are friendly, well organized, and go out of their way to help the new guys. The races are primarily Midwest and East coast events, stretching from Indiana and Ohio, all the way out to New York and Florida. They also have TV coverage on NBC Sports as part of the weekly Racer TV package.
Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing – lucasoilregional.com – youtube.com/lucasoiloffroad
The grand daddy of short course off road racing is the Lucas Oil Off Road Series – which features full blown Pro 2 and Pro 4 trucks rubbing doors while jumping hundred foot gaps in front of thousands of fans on custom built race courses. Lucas runs a group of smaller regional races for UTV’s in California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. The tracks are smaller than what the big boys run – but are every bit as challenging and you still get the thrill of running sideways at top speeds in a pack in front of great fans. There are no trees, rocks or grass to contend with – this is pure dirt track racing at its best. There are four classes of UTV’s in 2014 – SR1, Production 1000, Stock RZR XP900, and Unlimited. Prize purses are based on the number of entries.
WORCS – worcsracing.com – youtube.com/utvunderground
WORCS racing is another great group of dedicated motorcycle, ATV and UTV event organizers who run events similar to GNCC, but out on the West coast. They are running nine events in California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Washington this year. They have Pro and Amateur classes for UTV (SXS) racing at each event. Entering a WORCS race is one of the easiest ways to get started in UTV racing as the safety requirements for your UTV are very minimal. WORCS tracks are typically one part MX track – one part open desert course. This makes for a great mix of technical and high speed racing. At round 2 of this years WORCS series in Primm, NV, over 80 racers lined up to take the green flag. If that’s not enough to tell you that UTV racing is alive and well, then we don’t know what is!
BITD – bestinthedesert.com – youtube.com/utvunderground
The Best in the Desert series is the most well organized and best run desert racing series on the planet. They have featured UTV racing for six years now and host six challenging races in Nevada, and Arizona throughout the year. The courses range from just over a hundred miles all the way up to 600 miles! This is the big league, but don’t be intimidated. There are three classes in 2014 including an entry-level Sportsman class to get your feet wet. For the Pro UTV class – it’s not unusual to see full-blown custom builds from the ground up with every bell and whistle available. Factory Polaris, Can-Am and John Deere all support racers at this series and they enjoy car counts well into the 30’s! The Mint 400 is their grand daddy race, it’s the one event every year racers do not want to miss!
SCORE – score-international.com – youtube.com/ScoreInternationalTV
The SCORE Baja 1000 is one of the most widely publicized off road races in North America – simply because it’s been around since 1966 – and because it’s the longest desert race of any series. SCORE also holds a shorter 250 miles race (San Felipe 250) and a 500 mile race (Baja 500) throughout their season. UTV’s have been part of the SCORE race series for a few years now – and the number of entries grows every year. Racing in Baja, especially 1000 miles is not for the faint of heart. It takes a large crew and careful planning to execute – but that makes the victory that much sweeter. SCORE Baja racing is probably the most expensive and time consuming of all of off-road racing, well next to Dakar, but it certainly is the series that everyone desires to one day take on!
VORRA – vorra.net
The Valley Off Road Racing Association has been holding short course and desert races since 1975 in Nevada and California. They have a very easygoing attitude and are very well organized when it comes to their races and competitors. Some of their events are held in conjunction with the Lucas Oil regional races – but on different days. So it’s possible to run both on the same weekend! While VORRA doesn’t enjoy the car counts the other series seem to enjoy, it’s a series we definitely think you should check out if the races fall in your zip code!
These UTV race events deserve a mention because they are both wildly exciting – and unique in their environment. Some require specialized equipment like mud snorkel kits and/or high performance winches. Be sure to do your homework before entering these bad boys!
Highlifter Mud Nationals – atvmudnationals.com
The Highlifter Mud Nationals are held every year at Mud Creek Off-Road Park in Jacksonville, Texas. If you’ve never experienced the mud in your UTV you have to check this event out! As many as 40,000 ATV and UTV enthusiasts come out each year to battle in a variety of fun contests to see who can run the mud the fastest and deepest. There is camping, a massive show and shine contest, plenty of great food, and live music. Be warned though – you need a few key pieces of gear to run a UTV in four feet of mud. Check out the Highlifter website for tips on how to prepare for the Texas mud! Highlifter.com
King of the Hammers – ultra4racing.com – youtube.com/Ultra4Racing
The King of the Hammers race is part of the Ultra4 Racing Series and is the mother of all rock crawling contests on the West coast. Held in Johnson Valley, California – “KOH” as it’s known, is the ultimate test of man and machine. Each year KOH hosts both Pro and Sportsman UTV classes. 40 or so rock-ready UTV’s battle it out to see who can tame the boulders of Johnson Valley. The racing is part open desert part rock climbing and a winch is mandatory to compete at this event. Just finishing this race is considered a major accomplishment for any UTV enthusiast. Many call it the Burning Man event of off-road. This race is more than just a race, it’s an experience!