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'Side By Side' Off-Road Racers Talk Technique And Rip Over Some Rocks

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Some of the top off-road racers in UTVs want to tell you why their wacky mini-buggies are awesome, and they might convince you to pay attention to their class next time you're following a desert race.

Size-wise, UTVs are somewhere between quads and buggies. The UTVs that don't have open-wheel fenders sometimes look like miniature trucks. Polaris Rangers and Yamaha Rhinos dominate the market, though there are other makes out there.


While you're still more likely to see a UTV hauling hay at a farm than hauling ass on a short-course, I'm seeing more and more of them at desert races every year.

UTVs are not exactly "cheap," but they are a more accessible off-road race vehicle than a buggy or built truck. Yamaha and Polaris machines start at around $12,000 new, and can easily exceed $20,000 even before real race-prep begins.


But many off-road races will let you run a UTV with just "basic safety equipment." With such a short wheelbase, light weight, and robust suspension you wouldn't have to do much modifying to get a UTV into something like King Of The Hammers where a near-stock truck would get absolutely smoked.