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ROBBY GORDON’S NEW RIDE Diving Into The UTV Market, Robby Gordon Reveals His 2021 SPEED UTV 4-Seater By Stuart Bourdon Photos Courtesy of SPEED UTV Robby Gordon has been involved in driving, designing, and building race cars and trucks for decades. His racing experiences have included just about everything from off-road to Indy car, NASCAR to Dakar, and lately with their huge rise in popularity, UTVs. It should come as no surprise to anyone that he is now launching a new UTV under his own brand, SPEED UTV. However, this is not Gordon’s first UTV project. That actually started almost 20 years ago. “Around 2003 I took John Menard, who was on the board of directors at Polaris, out for a ride in a Yamaha Rhino.” said Gordon. “While we were talking, he asked me if I thought I could design a UTV. I immediately answered, ‘in my sleep.’ I had built my first Trophy Truck back in 1989 and built the Riviera Trophy Truck in ‘92.” Gordon also commented that he recently built a new SCORE Trophy Truck that he will debut at the first event of the 2020 SCORE-International race season. “That first UTV design that John and I talked about became the Polaris RZR, which originally stood for ‘Robby-Z-Ride,’ not Razor,” he said. Gordon’s business partner and fellow off-road racer Todd Romano, became part of the next chapter of this UTV venture. “I had a company called Dragonfire Racing (which he sold in 2008),” said Romano. “We were on the forefront of UTV accessories, and we were very fortunate at the time, very much like Robby, to have these snowmobile and ATV manufacturers approaching us, asking us how to make their UTVs cool. Arctic Cat had just hired a new president and I knew somebody inside that could get us a meeting with that person. I had an idea and called Robby’s dad, asking to get Robby on the phone. We were on an airplane with a proposal to Arctic Cat a few days later, and within 30 days, they had executed a design and manufacturing agreement.” “In 2015, after a five-year hiatus from the RZR program, we began working with Arctic Cat to build what was to essentially become the Wildcat XX two-seater,” added Gordon. “Right before the launch of the new UTV, Arctic Cat was bought by Textron and branded as Textron Off Road. With the Textron purchase, the launch of the new two-seater was delayed for about 12 months, and in 2017 it was finally released. By that time, the brand name had been changed back to Arctic Cat.” “We had also designed a four-seater for Arctic Cat in 2016, and that was basically a 4X4 car very similar to what we displayed (under the SPEED UTV brand) at the 2020 Sand Sports Show. The Arctic Cat four-seater was never launched, and not long after that Arctic Cat told us that they were electing to not build the four-seater, or the truck, or the turbo model we had designed for them. They told us we could proceed on our own,” said Gordon. “Todd and I talked it over. We had already shared our ideas and visions with Polaris and Textron. We asked ourselves if we wanted to do it all over again for somebody else, or do we just step up and go to produce our own car?” Build It The two decided to design and produce their own car. When asked about components partners in the new SPEED UTV 4 Seater, Gordon told us, “Our new UTV design benefits from my 30 years of off-road experience. We’ve partnered with people for some engineering work, but it’s our engine and our gearbox designed with help from experts in the industry. The shocks are SPEED units, other suspension components and the brakes are SPEED parts. I have good relationships with two major tire manufacturers, but it will probably be a SPEED-branded tire as well.” “Parts will be manufactured in various locations and delivered to and then assembled at a factory we’re going to use in Texas,” added Romano. “We found someone with available capacity and are going to use that assembly line. The best part is that SPEED UTV will be the first OEM in the UTV industry to have aftermarket accessories installed during assembly prior to shipment.” From the spec’s Gordon has announced, the new SPEED UTV will have a track width of 77 inches and a wheelbase of 120 inches. Even more important is the 25 inches of usable wheel travel front and rear. The tube chassis is all MIG welded, and you’ll find super-sturdy A and V bars that form the chassis’ spine. The rear section of the chassis disconnects to allow for quick and easy engine removal and maintenance. The front of the UTV is a solid forged casting that can be easily unbolted and replaced if necessary, negating the need for a suspension geometry reset. Steering is electric-over-hydraulic, with 0.5 degrees of bumper steer. The suspension system features patented reversible semi-trailing arms in the rear and patented reversible lower and upper control arms. The shock angles are optimized for maximum rising rate, and the 3.25-inch internal bypass shocks feature a 12-inch stroke, dual-rate spring, 360-degree clockable reservoir, and externally adjustable rebound and compression that are the same for all four corners, with the only difference being the rebound and compression settings from front to rear. Upper A-arms are adjustable for camber changes. Uprights are forged aluminum, with universal hubs and bearings. The usual ball joint architecture has been replaced with spherical bearing heim joints with rubber boots that were designed by SPEED UTV specifically for this new car. Market Fit Where will the new SPEED UTV fit into the overall UTV market? According to Romano, “Our goal is to take a piece of the pie without being a nuisance to Can-Am and Polaris as far as volume. We are operating at a much smaller and more efficient scale, and what they need to sell and what we need to sell are two different numbers. Their consumer is a different person, it’s more of a finance-to-buy customer.” “The production numbers we’ve set are 4,000 to 5,000 units a year by 2021, which is nothing compared to what they do. That’s not even a dent in their numbers,” said Gordon. “For example, if we do 10,000 units a year, we’ll be a 500-million dollar a year company, and we’ll do that in the next five years. By comparison, the major manufacturers like Can Am and Polaris were both at that point about 10 years ag. Today Can-Am is about 250-million and Polaris is around 5-billion in sales. The big companies wouldn’t even know we exist except for media coverage.” Recreational Race Car When it comes to the racing future of the new SPEED UTV, Romano said, “I’m going to answer that question in the way I think Robby would answer it. This new UTV will prevent any other manufacturer from wanting to ever race again because they will find their product isn’t competitive, especially when they look at the numbers. In its standard operating setup the car will have 225 horsepower and do 85mph. With the optional racing key, which involves the owner assuming all risk and responsibility, it will make 300 horsepower and do 110 mph. You can make it race-ready with a third of the money you would normally spend building a new UTV from the ground up.” “On the other side of that answer is that it’s not just a race car,” added Gordon. “Yes, it will meet race car specs, but it’s for the everyday off-road enthusiast. The reason we put a three-speed CVT in it instead of a clutch and 6-speed sequential transmission like everyone wants us to put in a race car, is that I still want mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa to be able to drive this car. Anybody can get in, put it in high gear, and drive it away. You can even get glass windows, AC, and heat in it, but it’s tough enough to be raced. We call it ‘Born in Baja’ because of our experience racing in Baja for many years.” “It’s certainly not your everyday average UTV.” Robby continued, “We want to dominate the racing market, but this is a race car for the general public. In my mind this is the Ferrari or the Lambo of the UTV industry. Our plan is to have these cars in the 2020 SCORE Baja 1000, and the goal right now for the launch date is Thanksgiving weekend for the general public.” Additional details of the new SPEED UTV 4-Seater are on the company’s website, but SCORE fans are eager to see how this vehicle performs and what it’s truly capable of in the hands of an experienced racer. SJ

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