Start Your Engines
Off-road racing action returns to Laughlin when Best In The Desert presents the 2019 Polaris RZR UTV World Championship, in collaboration with partners Mad Media and UTV Underground, Thursday-Sunday, April 4-7.
The format brings together UTV desert racing, UTV short-course racing, motorcycle and quad racing, veteran drivers, amateurs and all ages, for this one massive event.
The event will feature three world championship UTV races, including a Best In The Desert Championship points race and a short course UTV Championship race. A youth class RZR 170 championship race is also planned for the fifth year in a row.
As with all of the racing classes, safety requirements are strictly enforced. Detailed specifics are listed on the BITD.com website.
All racing takes place at Laughlin Events Park, at the corner of Bruce Woodbury Drive and Thomas Edison Way, two blocks west of Casino Drive.
Off-road racing has been a popular draw here in the desert community for nearly 30 years with different racing entities challenging just about anything with wheels to have a go on one of the most difficult race courses of any circuit or series. And the fans loved to watch some of the top drivers in the country negotiate all the twists and turns, of the 17-mile course. When entities like SCORE stopped coming, a couple of racing associations took up the gauntlet and brought off-road racing back in full-force the last few years.
Best In The Desert has come to town with a philosophy instilled by its founder, Casey Folks, who believed in following that adventure arrow and never backing down from a challenge. This particular organization also believes in letting everyone in on the fun.
One of the changes in the competition this time — there is no Laughlin Leap. However, the racing organization decided to give both drivers and spectators an extra day of racing on Sunday instead, expanding the event from last year. Racing is in addition to Tech Inspection & Contingency, which includes a variety of industry vendors, a Pit Crew Challenge and more.
Titled, “A Desert Race in a Class of Its Own,” this popular event is open to desert and short-course UTV classes as well as motorcycles and quads. No car or truck classes for this event. The event also includes a fun-filled Family Poker Run for UTVs only on Friday.
This year marks the fifth consecutive year for the poker run event, which is a fan and racer favorite. The entry fee is $95. Registration is at eventbrite.com, and the poker run begins at the start line of the race course at Laughlin Events Park on Friday (8 a.m.-10:30 a.m.).
“The poker run is our way to bring the enthusiasts, racers, team members and everyone in Laughlin together for a fun event behind the wheel of their own UTVs,” said Donald Jackson, operations manager of Desert (BITD) Off-Road Racing Association. “The Poker Run was created as a way to give everyone a chance to see the actual UTVWC race course.” Participants take one lap (17 miles) of the UTVWC Race Course. All participants will be randomly entered into a cash and prize pool from participating sponsors that will be raffled off at 5:30 p.m. immediately following the Pit Crew Challenge at Tech & Contingency. All poker drivers of record will receive an official 2019 UTVWC Poker Run shirt and poker chip.
“We’ve gotta be a little bit crazy to do this,” Jackson said of the world championship. “The top UTVs will see speeds of 80 mph, and the lead bikes will hit 90 mph.” The whole point is to bring UTV drivers and fans together for one action-packed event where anyone who wants to can experience the course for themselves or watch from a comfortable distance, get to know the drivers and learn more about this particular racing art form.
One of the best ways people can become immersed in the world of UTV racing is to chat with the drivers and educate themselves on the latest and greatest in all things UTV at the family-friendly portion of the program, Technical Inspection & Contingency, which takes place in the south parking lot of Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino, the event’s host hotel on Friday, April 5 (9 a.m.-6 p.m.) for UTVs, motorcycles and quads.
This is where all the drivers have to pass inspection and will be available for meet-and-greets and autograph sessions with the public. There is no charge to attend.
The site also will be converted into vendor space, a manufacturers midway offering the newest stock and customized UTV models as well as the industry’s top aftermarket accessories.
“We’ll have about 45 vendors down there along with two days of Tech and Contingency because we have divisions for youth and teen drivers and two days of racing this year,” Jackson said.
Even the Pit Crew Challenge is kid friendly.
“We’re going to do a Kids Pit Crew Challenge along with our regular Pit Crew Challenge,” Jackson said. “So the youth will do the pit crew challenge on their cars, changing a couple of tires. It will be in the Riverside parking lot on Friday, April 5 (starting at 4 p.m.) for both professionals and youth.”
“There will be a Stock UTV (Unlimited Terrain Vehicle) Rally class again this year,” Jackson said. “It was launched last year at this event, but the UTV numbers have changed across the board due to high entry counts and lack of numbers. Almost all classes begin with a letter. Here’s the breakdown — T-Turbo, S-Sportsman, U-Rally, R-RS1 single seat factory UTV, 1800-1900- naturally aspirated UTV (1000 non-turbo), and Y-all youth classes — all youth classes have a Y at the end.”
Jackson said as of March 26, 324 drivers and racers had registered.
Just like bull riding in rodeo, UTV racing has its premier class.
“The ProTurbo is still the premier class,” Jackson said. “Some of the best drivers to watch out for include Justin Lambert, Dustin Jones, Phil Blurton, Branden Sims, Brandon Schueler, Kaden and Corbin Wells, Seth Quintero, and Mitch Guthrie, Jr. Up-and-comers to check out are Brett Comiskey, Jack Olligen and Michael Isom.
“Seth Quintero is off to a blazing start this season going two-for-two so far, hoping to make it three-for-three at UTVWC,” he said. “Phil Blurton returns in his Can-Am hoping to make it a ‘three-peat’ at UTVWC. He would be the first driver to win the premier class three times — and this would be three years in a row.
“As far as new elements, the youth will race on Friday, with the addition of the 570 class,” he said. “Saturday races will go from sun up to just past sun down. Short Course races moved to Sunday on a separate 7-mile course, but it will still be spectator friendly.”
Spectators can park along Bruce Woodbury Drive in the designated area for $5 per car collected by the Laughlin Tourism Commission as a fundraiser. Spectators also can still watch from their favorite spot, “Spectator Hill,” but according to organizers, they are not allowed to park there. They will have to walk to the area.
For those driving large motor homes, please park across the street from Bruce Woodbury, on the south side instead of trying to squeeze into the spectator parking area.
For more information about the event, check out BITD.com or call (702) 457-5775.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Thursday, April 4
· Early UTV Tech Inspection (noon-5 p.m.) Hot Pit area of the Laughlin Events Park;
· Early Youth Registration (3 p.m.-5 p.m.) Don’s Celebrity Theatre within the Riverside Resort.
Friday, April 5
· Youth Registration (8 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) Don’s Celebrity Theater;
· Family Poker Run Registration and start (8 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) at the Start Line of the Race Course (new this year);
· Motorcycle/Quad/UTV Registration (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) Don’s Celebrity Theater;
· Motorcycle/Quad/UTV Technical Inspection and Contingency, Riverside Resort south parking lot (9 a.m.-6 p.m.);
· Youth 170 and 250 Race Staging (11:30 a.m.), Mandatory Driver Meeting (noon), Escort all classes (12:15 p.m.); Youth 170cc race starts (12:30 p.m.); Youth 250cc race starts (1:15 p.m.) start line of race course;
· Youth Awards; Mandatory Riders/Drivers Meeting (7 p.m.) Don’s Celebrity Theatre.
Saturday, April 6
After the first race, all start times are approximate, depending on number of entries.
· BITD Rally & Sportsman UTV Staging (5:30 a.m.), at race course Start Line (6 laps), racing starts (6 a.m.);
· BITD Motorcycle & Quad Staging (8 a.m.) at race course Start Line (10 laps), racing starts (8:30 a.m.); finish line cut-off (noon);
· BITD NA, Unlimited & RS1 UTV Staging (noon) — (10 laps), race starts (12:30 p.m.); finish line cut-off (4 p.m.);
· BITD Turbo UTV Staging (4 p.m.) at start line (10 laps) racing starts (4:30 p.m.), finish line cut off (8 p.m.);
· Motorcycle/Quad Awards Presentation (1 p.m.) finish line, sponsored by Ford Mesa.
Sunday, April 7
· Short Course 1000, 900, 800/700 Staging (6 a.m.) at race course Start Line (10 laps), racing starts (6:30 a.m.); finish line cut-off (8 a.m.);
· Short Course Turbo Staging (8 a.m.) — race course Start Line (10 laps); racing starts (8:30 a.m.), finish line cut-off (10 a.m.);
· UTV Awards Presentation (noon) Harrah’s Laughlin Beach.