RZR UTV World Championship
If any event is proof the show must go on, it’s the Polaris RZR UTV World Championship headed to Laughlin for the third year in a row. As part of the Best in the Desert Racing Association series and regarded as one of the biggest sanctioning bodies in off-road racing in the country, the UTV World Championship continues on to honor the memory of founder Casey Folks who passed away in January of this year. He was 72.
Carrying on in his absence requires big shoes and the organization has stepped up to the plate to make sure what Folks started more than 30 years ago in 1984, keeps growing and moving forward. Because of the growth of the organization over the years, Best in the Desert has become North America’s largest off-road racing organization, appropriately named the American Off-Road Racing Series.
This year’s event comes to the Laughlin desert Thursday-Saturday, April 13-15, with more than 200 racers competing for points, new machines and events that are spectator friendly so everyone can get in on the action.
Laughlin has been home to numerous desert/off-road racing events throughout the years. The proximity of the desert courses to the amenities offered by the casinos has proven a natural fit.
Those have been in the form of various vehicles like the Baja 500 SCORE and SNORE variety. So when Laughlin’s racing calendar featured some of the more popular vehicles going, UTVs with the first running of the Polaris RZR UTV World Championship, it didn’t take long for the event to attract fans.
The Polaris RZR UTV World Championship comes with a multi-pronged format. It is not only a full day of UTV racing in a Best In The Desert Championship points race and a short course/motocross style Production UTV Championship race, but will also offer contingency and tech, a pit-crew challenge, UTV demo rides and a “Family Fun Poker Run.”
Coordinating the event is Mad Media and utvunderground.com, the definitive Internet information center for UTV racing. It is one of the world’s fastest growing all-inclusive UTV websites that features content and articles by both enthusiasts and manufacturers alike.
The reason the Polaris RZR UTV World Championships proved to be such a huge success the last couple of years was explained by Matt Martelli, CEO/creative director of utvunderground.com
“It is the world’s largest UTV racing event,” says Martelli. “The event is evolving into a great place for those interested in UTVs to come out and get introduced to the latest products, as well as introduce those who know very little about UTVs, to the overall world of UTVs.
“There will be more than 70 top line UTV manufacturers and after-market manufacturers with products on display and for sale at both the tech contingency and at the race site. It is a great place to come out and do some serious shopping.”
Come out meet the drivers…
The host property this year is Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort, where kick-off and after parties take place along with registration for the family poker run.
One of the best ways to get immersed in the world of UTV racing is to come out to the Contingency and Tech Inspection held in the south parking lot of the Riverside Resort on Fri (9 a.m.-6 p.m.). This is where all the drivers have to pass inspection and will be available for meet-and-greets and autograph sessions with the public.
The site will also be converted into vendor space, a manufacturers midway offering the newest stock and customized UTV models as well as the industries top aftermarket accessories. The UTV displays and merchandise will also be at the Events Arena racing site both days.
A new event this year is the Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday, April 13 (5 p.m.) in the Riverside’s south parking lot.
Some of the up and coming drivers to watch for may surprise those who follow the sport.
The competition is shaping up to be a strong pack this year.
“Heading into the 2017 UTVWC you have Mitch Guthrie Jr. in his Polaris RZR XP Turbo, who is heading into the Safecraft Desert Championship race at the UTVWC on a two-race win streak this season,” said Joey DiGiovanni, CEO/Founder of utvunderground.com. “Guthrie is undefeated so far in 2017 and looks to keep his streak alive. In addition, Guthrie won the Short Course Championship race last year here in Laughlin and so he is looking to be the first two-time UTVWC race winner.
“Larry Roeseler, one of the off-road racings most successful competitors, heads to Laughlin to compete behind the wheel of his Safecraft sponsored Polaris RZR XP1000. Roeseler leads a host of very well known racers such as Rhys Millen (desert & short course race), Shannon Campbell (short course) and RJ Anderson (short course) to name a few. All of these racers are very well accomplished in their respective disciplines and are known as some of the best racers in the world.”
Tough competitors aren’t limited to the veteran racers anymore. Youth riders are serious about competition, too.
“Fourteen year old Seth Quintero won the UTV World Championship youth race in 2015 and because of that win has earned factory sponsorship from Polaris RZR and Red Bull making him the youngest athlete on the star studded RZR and Red Bull rosters,” DiGiovanni said. “Quintero will compete behind the wheel of his UTVUnderground Polaris RZR XP1000 in the Short Course race for the first time. Quintero is an example of how the UTVWC is grooming young athletes from an early age and giving them the tools and platform for which to grow their careers.”
The GSP Performance Youth Championship race at the UTVWC this year will be the biggest youth race to date. Over 40 youth racers from all over the United States are entered to compete in two classes. The winner of each class will take home either a new Polaris ACE 150 or Polaris RZR 170. The Youth Race will also feature a new model from Polaris this year. The new 2017 Polaris ACE 150 will be debuted for the first time in competition here at the 2017 UTVWC.
Vehicles consist of modified versions of stock UTVs, quads and motorcycles that can be purchased at a local dealer. The Best In The Desert Class points race follows a 16-mile course while the Production UTV Championship short course is 6 miles. Categories include:
MC/Q-Ironman—Motorcycle & Quad where the competitors race all the miles themselves;
MC/Q—separate motorcycle and quad classes;
UTV—Best in the Desert racing UTV classes;
Youth Production 170/250cc—racers ages 6-12;
Production UTV—production style/short course UTV racers.
All races utilize a “land rush” format with rows of 15-18 vehicles in “dead engine” formation, that is, their engines are off until a green flag waves, then it’s start and go.
Polaris will give away five new machines to winners of the UTVWC this year—totalling more than $80,000 in vehicles.
The start and finish line is at the Laughlin Events Park just west of Casino Drive up from the Edgewater entrance (at the northwest corner of Bruce Woodbury Drive and Thomas Edison Way).
Spectators can watch the races from the events park area or from “The Hill” overlooking the events park situated along Thomas Edison Way (“The Hill” is a favorite spot to watch all off-road races held in Laughlin). There is no admission charge to watch the races.
Further information is available at: www.bitd.com or by calling (702) 457-5775.
Thursday, April 13
•Pit Crew Challenge, (5 p.m.) Riverside south parking lot—This is the first and soon to be the annual UTV World Championship Pit Crew Challenge, where the top UTV teams battle head-to-head for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.
•Official Kick-Off Party (7 p.m.) Loser’s Lounge, Riverside (must be at least 21 to attend)
Friday, April 14
•Family Poker Run Registration (8 a.m.-10 a.m.) Don’s Celebrity Theatre, Riverside Resort. The 3rd Annual event is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for UTV owners to drive their vehicles on the UTV World Championship race course. The entry fee is $80 per vehicle. Stock UTVs only, no race UTV vehicles allowed, no cars, no trucks, no pre-runners, no MC/Q.
Onsite registration is extremely limited, so those wishing to participate should get in line early. Advance signup is available through the Best in the Desert Racing Association, by visiting their website at www.bitd.com. Thousands of dollars in cash and prizes will be given out to the drivers with the top poker hands.
•Family Poker Run starts at the Start Line of the race course, (8 a.m.), start line closes (10:45 a.m.).
•Motorcycle/Quad/UTV Registration (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) Don’s Celebrity Theatre, Riverside
•Motorcycle/Quad/UTV Technical Inspection & Contingency (9 a.m.-6 p.m.) Riverside south parking lot—Along with meeting the drivers and seeing the latest in UTV merchandise and toys, the UTVWC Contingency Raffle will include over $50,000 in prizes.
•Mandatory Riders/Drivers Meeting (7 p.m.) Don’s Celebrity Theatre, Riverside
Saturday, April 15
After the first race, all start times are approximate depending on the number of entries
•BITD Motorcycle /Quad Staging at the start line (6 a.m.)
• Desert Race start time (6:30 a.m.; finish line cut-off 9:45 a.m.)
•BITD UTV Team Staging at start line (9:30 a.m.)
•Desert Race start time (10 a.m.; finish line cut-off 1:45 p.m.)
•MC Quad Awards Presentation by Ford Mesa (10:30 a.m.)— finish line
•Youth Race Staging at Start Line (2 p.m.)
•Start (2:30 p.m.) half-hour race
•Short Course UTV Staging at Start Line (2:45 p.m.)
•Start short course race (3:15 p.m.; finish line cut-off 5:15 p.m.)
•UTC Awards Presentation (7 p.m.) Harrah’s Laughlin beach
•UTVWC After Party (9 p.m.) Loser’s Lounge, Riverside. Must be at least 21 to attend.
RZR UTV World Championship
Desert Course West of Casino Drive and the Riverside Resort
Thursday-Saturday, April 13-15. Free to view races