Over the past years, racing with off-road vehicles by extreme sports enthusiasts has risen in popularity. The most common vehicles used in this sport are ATVs, and UTVs also referred to as side-by-side vehicles. With multiple persons able to ride on the UTV, the off-road experience is even maximized to a greater extent. With racing, you can start from some of the easiest trails, and can even go to as tricky and dangerous as rough, muddy terrain and dunes. The overall purpose, more than winning on the race, is for the thrill and fun adventure. This thrill and adventure is also precisely the reason why despite its cost, many are still drawn towards this thrill-seeking hobby.
Despite the adrenaline rush that it can give, racing on the side-by-side also comes with it a lot of danger. It’s not as easy as simply driving a car. This highlights the importance of ensuring that before you even set foot on the race trail, you’re already well prepared with skill, practice, and the right tips to back you up.
That said, you’re in the right place. Here you’ll find some of the best side-by-side racing tips for sports enthusiasts:
Always Have A Test Drive
Even if the trail is something that already looks manageable or familiar to you, it always pays to have a test drive. Don’t go into the race without trying out the tracks again. It’s recommended that the week before race day, you’re going to take your UTV out and get a feel of the trail. That way, you can have a better ascertainment as to how to maneuver through the challenges. Come race day, it won’t feel all alien to you.
Note that in racing UTVs, the main goal always is to finish the trail, as that in itself is already challenging to accomplish. When you’ve given yourself a test run, you’re increasing the chances not only of finishing but even better, placing as a winner in the race.
Consider The Weight Of Your UTV
If you’re already a side-by-side expert driver, you’ll know how to determine whether or not your UTV’s weight can work well and withstand the race conditions that you’re going to try out. The main factors for you to consider are the following:
- It should be fast enough, for you to finish the race
- It should have the ability for all-out performance
When you feel that your UTV isn’t best suited for that kind of race, then you may want to borrow one. If not, just skip the race altogether. Else, you’re only going to give yourself so much of a hard time, with risks of injury and not being able to finish the race. For sports purposes, you’ll want to have the highest horsepower-to-weight ratio.
To start your search for various UTV options with their respective horsepower-to-weight ratios, and other matters you may have in mind, visit sites like compett.org.
Always Invest In Safety Gear
Even if you may already consider yourself as an expert rider, don’t take second-chances as to your safety. Many accidents can happen while you’re racing. After all, it’s an extreme sport. But, you can minimize these accidents and their corresponding effects, when you’ve invested in the right safety gear.
Examples of the most common safety gear needed include:
- Driving gloves and shoes. These protect your hands and feet from rips and lacerations. It also helps to add a layer of comfort.
- Helmet. In case of any accident or a bad fall, the helmet acts as the shield to protect your head.
- Visibility accessories, like stickers and reflector lights. This will keep your side-by-side vehicle visible, even when it may start to get dark.
- Goggles. The goggles that you choose should be made to keep your eyes protected from debris, wind, sand, and even the sun.
- Roll cage bars. These help keep the passengers, and yourself, protected from injuries, should an accident happen.
- Restraint harnesses. This acts as an extra seatbelt to help protect the driver and the passengers from flying or getting out of the vehicle in top speed, or difficult terrain.
Check Your Tire Pressures
Of all the parts in your UTV, one of the most important is the set of wheels. This is what will keep your UTV going. If it’s in bad condition, chances are, you might get stuck, and it can be hard to rescue or tow your vehicle as well. Just as is the case of any vehicle, even if it be for racing or not, you’ll want your tire vehicles to be in perfect condition. If the air pressure is terrible, it may result in ill-handling.
As you also check your tire pressures, be sure that your race vehicle has the proper tire size. This isn’t the place and time for you now to make any last-minute modifications, as this can disturb your familiarity with the vehicle.
Familiarize With Possible Dangerous Situations
While it’s going to be scary to think about possible accidents that can happen while on the race, it also pays to be familiar with what could happen. In taking this proactive approach, should an accident occur, you’ll better know how to manage the situation. That way, injuries, and further damage can be lessened.
Examples of possible dangerous situations would include the following:
- Front flips. High-level tracks on races have built-in jumps. Off-road terrain also inherently has bumps and dunes. When going through these, in speed or not, front flips aren’t impossible. Hence the need for you to practice your proper launch speed and suspension for you to land correctly.
- Collisions. These collisions aren’t just limited to colliding with another side-by-side. It may also be a single vehicle, but colliding with a tree or boulder.
- Backflips. If front flips can happen, so can backflips as well. Especially when you’re going uphill on very steep terrain, your side-by-side can quickly go on a backflip. To conquer these types of terrain better, you must practice your proper mix of brake and acceleration. Plus, also no-acceleration maneuvers.
- Roll-overs. Probably one of the most challenging and dangerous of all, a roll-over is also highly possible. This can happen when the turn is too tight, or when you’re speeding on a turn. An essential tip, therefore, to remember, is that when you’re going on a corner, always be wary about your speed.
Install An Hour Meter
As its name suggests, an hour meter is a gadget that can record time already elapsed. The primary use of hour meters is to log the running time of the equipment that it’s attached to. That way, proper maintenance of expensive machines or systems can be achieved.
When you’re on a race, it’s also imperative to service your UTV at regular intervals. An easy way for you to do this is through the hour meter. That way, you’re quickly reminded of the time left before you have to take a short break, to service your vehicle.
Keep Your Limbs Inside Your UTV
Whether you’re the driver or the passenger in this extreme sport, it’s crucial to keep your limbs inside the UTV. You may have regularly heard this rule even as a kid, while you’re on a car or any other vehicle, for that matter. Especially so in racing is it highly important to do this.
Never use your arms or legs to alter whatever path your side-by-side is going to take. Hold on to yourself, and keep yourself inside. Doing all the dirty work is the job of your cage, windows, and doors.
Create Sure Footing Inside Your UTV
When you go through a race trail that has water or mud, it’s also inevitable that your feet are going to get wet. It’s going to be all over the place, as now its grip is lesser due to the slippery surface. Especially when you know that the trail you’re going to do has mud or water, be prepared by installing grip tape to cover your cabin floor. That way, whatever condition you’re going to be in, your feet stay secure and flat.
Always Have Supervision
This rule applies whether you’re a first-time racer or not. Never race alone. Always have a passenger or have someone following you. Usually, this buddy is the one responsible for holding a radiophone, for communicating with race organizers. In the event of an accident, you can quickly call for help. Had you been alone, you’d be on a race against time as well as for help. In serious accidents, even a few minutes already makes a huge impact.
Always Do A Pre-Ride Check
A pre-ride check means taking your side-by-side to the mechanic to ensure that it’s in a race-worthy condition. You may want to do this at least a week before the race day. That way, should there be any problem, there’s still ample time to make the necessary repairs. Never race your vehicle without checking it first. Even when you’re confident enough that it’s in pristine condition. That way, you’re giving yourself a higher assurance of a safe and enjoyable ride.
Yes, driving a side-by-side does require a lot of skill and training. There’s no other way to put it. Hence, it’s essential to note that you can’t just decide on going on a race immediately after you’ve brought home your UTV. That’s like going to war without knowing how to use a shield or a weapon. Before the big trail or race, the best thing that you can bring with you apart from confidence always is ample preparation and practice. If you follow these tips, you’re guaranteed a higher chance of enjoying the race, staying safe, and of not having any other technical trouble to worry about. Keep these tips in mind.