UTV racing has never been more popular, or more competitive. Events are held nearly every weekend all across the United States, Baja, Mexico, and even all around the world. Regardless of the venue or series, the list of potential winners is a long one. The fans have their favorites, and many have become household names. Everyone has heard of or seen top contenders like RJ Anderson, Wayne and Kristen Matlock, Dustin Jones, Mitch Guthrie Jr, or Justin Lambert on the internet and in the pages of UTV Sports Magazine. They all have well established teams, and huge fan followings. They also have thousands of racers looking to get where they are; the competition is constantly knocking on the door.
Some of the competition waiting in the wings is not old enough to possess a driver’s license for the street. They might not be dodging traffic on the highways, but they are perfecting their skills in the dirt. There is a huge youth movement in the UTV racing world, and many are second, or even third generation racers. Since they are just children, they have their families behind them 100%; supporting them, and nurturing their careers. They have deep wells of knowledge learned during years of racing to draw upon. With all the insight handed down, and the tricks of the trade already perfected on the track, some will be racing veterans by the time they hit their teenage years. They come from all backgrounds, and they aren’t only boys. Many girls are out there racing too. With UTV technology continuously advancing, the factories are cranking out faster, and more capable vehicles all the time. With this incredible youth movement underway, those vehicles will have some of the most capable drivers behind their wheels in the near future. We are all heading into some exciting times.
Many racers of all ages get their first taste of speed on motorcycles. Going fast in the dirt on two wheels has a drawback. Every bike racer eventually goes down. Those injuries tend to haunt them the rest of their lives. Racing on four wheels and with a cage over your head is a lot easier on the body. UTV’s offer the same thrills, but with a lot less injuries. The youth classes are very safe with well-engineered cars to drive and state of the art safety equipment that has been perfected by the pros.
Short course racing has nurtured many great young drivers over the last decade. The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series’ Trophy Kart class has spawned an entire crop of drivers who are now top professionals. Sheldon Creed, Hailie Deegan, Riley Herbst, RJ Anderson, Brock Dickerson, Brandon Arthur, Darren Hardesty Jr, Brock Heger, the list goes on, and on. Many have also raced UTV’s. Trophy Karts helped to get many kids involved in racing, but the difference between a Trophy Kart and a UTV is that UTV’s can be used for recreation off the track. UTV’s can do double duty as a race vehicle, or for just having fun in the desert or trail riding in the woods.
Anyone with kids knows that they have short attention spans. Purchasing a race only vehicle and all the tools and spare parts needed at the track is costly. If the child tires of racing, you can end up with an unused car, and an expensive collection of specialized parts. With a UTV, if racing doesn’t hold their interest, they can still have fun at their own pace off the track. They are much safer than a motorcycle, and frankly take less skill to operate. As their skills develop, faster cars, and faster classes are available.
Why get into racing with your child? Racing teaches so many useful skills and provides valuable lessons that last a lifetime. These kids who are working their way to the top are developing the character and work ethic that it takes to succeed. Racing has not been infected with the “Everyone gets a trophy” mentality that is taking over other youth sports. Kids learn that success comes from investing time and effort to realize your goals. They learn to show character in defeat, but also while winning. And as any adult will tell you, it’s also just plain fun! Who doesn’t like to go fast? At UTV Sports Magazine, we cover racing and recognize trends. We will be taking notice of the kids who distinguish themselves on and off the track, and will be highlighting some of them in a feature we call Little Rippers. Not only will it be interesting to meet some of these high achievers, but it will also be fascinating to look back after several years and see how far they have progressed. The next generation of racers are quickly becoming the leaders of the future. It will be fun watching these young racers get to the top.