UTV racing returns to Laughlin
LAUGHLIN — “I still feel like a kid, since I get to go play in the dirt all the time,” said UTV Unlimited Desert driver Casey Scherer while going through tech Friday during the 2019 Polaris RZR World Championships.
Scherer was one of 382 racers to compete at the fifth straight year of the championship races in Laughlin.
About 100 of all the racers registered were youth, an area that has seen massive growth since the beginning of the sport.
“It’s incredible,” UTV announcer Tim Shelman said. “On the first year, I think we had seven or eight kids out. It’s grown exponentially and, of course, they are the future.”
All UTV youth racers ran Friday afternoon.
Dallas Gonzalez, of Fort Mohave, went back-to-back with wins in both the 250cc and 570cc races on Friday, setting himself apart and earning a special place in
UTVWC lore. The 250 victory made him just the first three-time and three-peat champion in UTV World Championship history, while the 570 win etched his name in the record books again as the winner of the first-ever UTVWC race for the class. Alongside Gonzalez’s pair of triumphs, Chase Mankin took the 170cc class victory in the youth division..
“The youth teams that compete in the Polaris RZR UTV World Championship represent the future of the sport, and judging by what we saw today, the future is bright,” said UTV World Championship CEO Matt Martelli, according to UTVWorldChampionships.com. “Dallas Gonzalez managed to do something even the pros have never done with his three-peat win in the 250 class, and backed it up with another win in our first 570 race, while Chase Mankin earned the 170 win in another great battle.”
The event kicked off early Friday morning with the Dirt Co. Poker Run. The run goes along the 17-mile desert course.
Scherer, of Auburn, California, has been racing since childhood, starting with BMX and remote-control cars. He got hooked, and things progressed from there, he said.
This was Scherer’s first Best In The Desert-sanctioned race. However, he isn’t new to being behind the wheel. He has raced UTVs in Ultra 4 and King of the Hammers, one of the most brutal rock-crawling races in the United States.
“I just enjoy off-roading and the desert,” Scherer said. “You can’t really explain it until you go out and do it yourself.”
Scherer and his co-driver were blasting through the desert sand at 70 to 80 mph on Saturday. This race is won by seconds, not minutes, he said.
“I’m pumped,” Scherer said. “All nerves are built upon the excitement of the race. As soon as I get in the car, those nerves settle in.”
A great way to meet drivers was at the AZ West All Sports UTV Festival at the Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino parking lot. It’s also a great opportunity to see what’s new in the UTV industry.
“That’s one of the greatest things about BITD,” said Roger Woder from CST Tires. “It’s to get the people, racers, and cars all intermingled.”
Intermingled it was, with people walking among the UTVs and talking to drivers while waiting to get teched. It’s a great chance for people to look, touch and grow an interest within the sport.
Woder arrived in Laughlin on Wednesday to start setting up the CST booth and truck. He spent all Friday showing people the guts of the UTVs they sponsor and, of course, talking tires.
The popularity of UTV racing continues to grow mainly because of the accessibility for both fans and racers.
Racing in UTV is relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of motor sport.
All it takes is a UTV with a beefier roll cage, fuel cell, and a couple of other bits to get out there.
An awards banquet at Harrah’s Casino and Hotel ended the racing weekend. The event is supposed to be back around the same time next year.