It’s been a while since the axiom “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” held enough sway over the general public to be quotable in polite company. The transfer of that competitive sheen and of race technologies to road cars, however, has never been more widespread nor more popular, with crossovers touting checkered flag connections and Baja-derived pickup trucks languishing in the Sephora parking lot. Polaris Off-Road has decided to build the same bridge in the world of UTVs. The Minneapolis-based side-by-side maker announced what it says is the first comprehensive factory racing program and factory-developed competition UTV. As we’d expect of an automaker announcement, the program comes with a 10,000-square-foot shop in Vista, California just north of San Diego, staffed by a race management team, crew chiefs and mechanics, and three factory drivers.
We haven’t yet seen what Polaris calls “the sport’s first purpose-built race ready UTV,” but it we imagine it will start with something like the retail RZR Turbo R Ultimate and add numerous competition-focused improvements from there. The sponsor list so far includes Rockford Fosgate, Synchronysm, Progressive Insurance, GoPro, Fox Racing, Fox Shocks, Polaris Engineered Lubricants, Rigid Industries, BFGoodrich Tires and Method Race Wheels.
Austin Weiland, Brock Heger and Cayden MacCachren complete the driver roster, the trio responsible for everything from individual victories at King of the Hammers and the Baja 1000 to championship wins. They’ll compete in this year’s SCORE International series that kicks off March 28 with the San Felipe 250 and includes the Baja 500, Baja 400 and Baja 1000. They’ll also run Best in the Desert’s Vegas to Reno race, billed as “500 miles of dust, rocks & glory.”
UTVs are still so popular that companies haven’t needed to splurge beyond factory support for privateer teams. Robby Gordon, in fact, said he established Speed UTV to address what he felt were the shortcomings in consumer UTVs for anyone wanting a more hardcore off-road experience. We look forward to seeing what effect Polaris’s move has on the industry. The company could spend this year getting everything lined up, but next year — especially if Gordon can get the final tune dialed in for his Speed rigs — we might get the best UTV racing ever seen.