Through diversity and love, a Southern California family finds success, community and acceptance in the motorsport world of side-by-side racing.
Sometimes life’s unexpected events form a foundation of duress that one can then build upon. For the Quintero’s, this was a full-throttle bomb run in a California desert race that led to the collapse of one racing career and a brand new start for another.
By Mike Berard Published on
When Seth Quintero was 10 years old, his passion for racing was prominent and he was on track to follow his father, Aaron Quintero’s footsteps with racing motorbikes. That came to a sudden stop when his father spent five days in the intensive care unit at a hospital after a devastating career-ending crash. That crash crushed Aaron’s rib cage and redefined what racing meant to the Quintero family. “Once my dad got hurt, they [Seth’s parents] didn’t really want to see me on a bike,” says Seth. “They thought it wasn’t the best idea, but my passion was for racing. I loved it.”
Fortunately, racing wasn’t permanently out of the picture for Seth. The Quintero’s purchased Seth a stock Polaris RZR side-by-side for the first time. Seth’s uncle, who works for a fab shop building race cars, fabricated a customized roll cage so young Seth would have means of protection in case of a rollover, a fairly common occurrence in desert racing.
Seth’s skillset translated pretty well. “It was definitely a transition,” says Seth. “But I knew how to read lines and jump.” As Seth progressed, he started competing and winning locally. “I think that really turned some heads and of course it turned our heads,” says Aaron. “He won a couple titles and we went to [famed AMA series] District 38 where we started desert racing.”
Side-by-side racing may be a one-person-behind-the-wheel sport, but there is more than what meets the immediate eye. The true force behind most successful drivers lies within its race team of mechanics, co-drivers, road crew and pit crew who keep the vehicle on the road. And for Quintero Racing, diversity reaches far beyond the talents of its many team members. Quintero Racing is a family affair and together they know what it takes to be on top of the podium: a collective effort from the entire team.
“Quintero Racing is definitely one of the most diverse teams in the sport,” says Seth, the 18-year-old namesake driver and champion driver. “There’s my Hispanic dad [Aaron] and my white mom [Amy], my best friend Ryley [McMorris] who is Black, and my brother-in-law who is Native American.” We like to bring in whoever can to help us out on the team. We don’t look at anybody any differently than we look at our friends. If you’re respectful and you’re a cool guy or girl, you’re more than welcome to be on the team.”
Ryley McMorris is a 21-year-old pivotal player for the Quintero Racing Team. He is a jack-of-all-trades and key to keeping the pedal down during a race as the teams ‘Gas Guy’ – a nickname McMorris won for himself after claiming the responsibility of filling Seth’s gas tank during races. But, he also fixes the Polaris RZR. And sometimes even doubles as Seth’s co-driver, assuming the role most recently alongside Seth as he took his second consecutive win in the Pro NA class at the Silver State 300. Indeed, McMorris is the glue.
McMorris got started with Quintero Racing at 16 years old after attending and watching one of his childhood best friends, Colby Wemple [Seth’s co-driver], race with Seth at the famed District 38 iconic race. “They were racing District 38 together,” recalls McMorris who was there in support of Wemple. “And it called me into the off-road racing side of it with Seth and his family.”
Riding dirt bikes since he was six years old, it didn’t take long for McMorris to adapt and apply his skillsets to off-road racing with Quintero Racing. “Amy is like a second mom to me,” says McMorris. “Aaron and Seth…they’re just great people. You feel like part of the team from day one. It’s always a good time and we’re always making memories.”
The Hemet, California-based McMorris—who works full time as a security guard—doesn’t see his race as a holdback in side-by-side racing. “Off-road racing is a super welcoming sport, which is amazing,” he says. “I think because a lot of younger people grew up in an era of welcoming and not racial profiling as much. It’s making a big difference in all motorsports. This year with Bubba Wallace for example, he’s made a big difference with NASCAR.”
For Seth’s father Aaron, the world of motorsports wasn’t as diverse when he first began racing motorcycles through the California desert. “You know, I think racing has always been supportive,” he says. “I kind of grew up in that [Hispanic] element, with my family and uncles. We go to down to Baja and you will see guys from all over: Canada, Australia, you know, Mexico. It’s just a special world to be in, especially with what is going on right now. It seems like everyone has brought the sport together, stronger. Everyone’s kind of backing each other up.” The side-by-side racing network is tight, potentially due to the youthful space it occupies in the more established motorsports world, and Quintero Racing Team fits well into the side-by-side scene.
For the entire Quintero family, side-by-side racing has provided a place to not only have fun but to come together with like-minded racers. “Side-by-side racing is insane,” says McMorris. “The past four to five years…how it’s progressed and how Seth has progressed. It’s insane the way it’s headed.”