AP NEWS

UTV championships in Laughlin conclude Sunday

April 8, 2019

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. However, the event kicked off early Friday morning with the Dirt Co. Poker Run. The run goes along the 17-mile desert course, which some pros looped 10 times while racing Saturday. Scherer and his co-driver are one of them.

He has been racing since childhood, starting with BMX and remote-control cars. He got hooked, and things progressed from there.

This is Scherer first Best In The Desert (BITD) 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.”

On average, Scherer and his co-driver were blasting through the desert sand at 70-80 mph on Saturday. This race is won by seconds, not minutes he said.

“I’m pumped,” Scherer said Friday. “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 like Scherer 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.

The UTV festival and all short course and desert racing action over the weekend were free to attend. All it cost was $5 to park your car at the Laughlin Off-road Complex to spectate. The final races of the weekend are today at 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

An awards banquet at Harrah’s Casino and Hotel ended the racing weekend at noon. The event is supposed to be back around the same time next year.