HOW TO DO YOUR FIRST UTV RACE
— It’s easier than you think —
My name is Madeline Wedeking, and I’m a 15-year-old off-road lover from Temecula, California. I have been off-roading with my family for all my life, so I was ecstatic when I got the okay from my dad last year to take a chance at racing. I have always wanted to race ever since I was little, so I researched and found the California City Pure AVE series. I’m sure glad I did! If you are interested in UTV racing and are not sure where to start, this is the series you’re looking for.
They have three main classes, depending on what vehicle you are going to race—the Bone Stock, the Sportsman and the Pro classes. You can also determine which class you’d like to join based on how much money you’d like to put into your race car. Before you add anything, make sure to inspect your vehicle closely to check if anything is broken that you need to fix. If you don’t want to add anything on your vehicle besides window nets and a fire extinguisher, then the Bone Stock class is best for you. If you are just joining racing, I’d recommend the Sportsman class. You should start prepping your race car a couple of months ahead, making sure you have looked up what exactly you need in order to race. For example, you need a fire extinguisher, window nets, a GPS, racing harness, a race helmet, a first-aid kit and a rear amber light.
A smart thing to do before the race is to pre-run the weekend before or the day before so you get a good feel for how the car reacts to the course, what you need to watch out for and the speeds you can go in certain sections. I have been off-roading for 15 years. That may not seem like a long time to you, but it’s my whole life. Our normal weekend-day rides are around 100 miles. Therefore, before I take off, I tell myself that it’s not about winning; it’s about finishing. Treat the race like it’s just a normal ride that you go on with your family and friends, just with a little more speed. Most of the people in off-road racing push the car very hard to the point where they either flip over or they break something 20 miles into the race. Remember to follow the three Cs—stay calm, cool and collected throughout the race. Just finishing the race is an accomplishment, and winning is a huge plus.
CLASSES AND UTV RULES
As I said, Pure UTV has classes for Sportsman and Pro drivers. Sportsman Bone Stock is for beginners but requires the same safety equipment as the higher classes. Production 1900 is for Class 1900 SCORE/BiTD Pros, and there are also Pro and Sportsman Production 900, 1000 and Turbo classes, plus Unlimited 2WD and 4WD 1001+cc classes (no automobile engines) for specially built UTVs like Weller SR1s. The Sportsman entry fee is $250, and Pros pay $450, with $200 going to the payout purse. Entry fees include two drivers and two navigators for the longer races, and you’ll need to know your radio frequency and your Formula UTV International (FUTVI) membership number.
Go to the start/finish line for sign-up. Entry forms and releases must be signed in person, with those under 18 needing parental or legal-guardian signatures. You’ll also need to pick up your scoring transponder, and new FUTVI members will also need the official rule book ($15). Once you’re signed up, you’ll need to go through technical inspection with your fire suits, helmets, gloves and footwear. They will also check your UTV for a proper roll cage (OEM/six-point), first-aid kit, fire extinguisher (2.5 pounds or bigger), five-point harness and door/nets. Mirrors are required, and any bumper or nerf bar tubes must be capped and rounded with no protrusions. Numbers are required with backgrounds specified in the rule book.
For safety, each team must use radios for communication between race officials, main pits, chase crews and UTVs, plus have the official’s phone number programmed into your phone and at least five 3×5-inch blank cards and pens for sending messages to crew or officials. Unlike SCORE and BITD, AVE racing doesn’t require aftermarket safety cells for fuel or rear cage-mounted blue/orange lights, although they’re a good idea.
Pre-running the course to learn turns and danger zones is permitted, but it must be done in a safe and sane manner. The rule book also has specific fines, and you can be disqualified for rule violations, such as missing the mandatory riders’ meeting the morning of the race. The meeting will cover last-minute updates and set the staging time for the 10 a.m. start. But, don’t let the rules and procedures prevent you from getting your racing feet wet, as everything is geared to make it easier to get started in UTV racing, even the late start time. SCORE and Best in the Desert have start times closer to dawn.
P.O. Box 2141
California City, CA 93504