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DESERT LIONESSES  Women Racers In SCORE Lead The Way Towards Inspiring Others To Compete By Dan Sanchez From the beginning of SCORE International, women have always been a part of off-road racing and many have opened the door for others to follow as competitors and navigators. In recent seasons, more women have become involved, entering classes from SCORE Trophy Trucks to UTVs, Motos, Quads, and other four-wheel classes.  Many of the young women entering the sport are under 30, and those who have begun racing in SCORE look to racers such as Shelby Reid, Sara Price, and Kristen Matlock. These women have risen to notoriety due to their high levels of competition which have led them to win many races and championships. Over the past two seasons, Matlock has been the most visible, as she continues on a pursuit to win another SCORE Pro UTV championship. While she pushes herself, her team, and her Polaris RZR to higher levels, she also makes time to give back to orphanages in Baja, as well as talk and mentor as many young women racers who are entering the sport. “I try to lead and guide the youth, especially women, who are truly still the minority in this sport,” says Matlock. “Even though this is a male-dominated sport, women can compete at the top level. That’s what I like about it.”  Many of the latest women getting into SCORE off-road racing are competing in the UTV classes with Matlock. It’s a trend that’s growing and Matlock feels these vehicles are a great way for women to enter, become better racers, and grow their skills. “In the Stock classes, you can go out and purchase a new or used UTV, make small modifications, and race it,” she says. “Adding things like a window net, radio intercoms, safety seats, and cage don’t cost a whole lot which is nice.  When I started, I went from ATVs which was a more difficult vehicle to handle. Once I transitioned to UTVs and had manufacturers backing, it was a great transition to be fully supported. It wasn’t like having to build a truck or buggy from scratch.”  Matlock’s achievements have made her a “superstar” to women wanting to emulate her and what she has accomplished in her off-road racing career. As women begin to compete, many approach her and ask for advice. “I’m mostly talking to them and I also reach out to as many women racers as I can,” she says. “I always suggest to any women wanting to get involved in racing, to start on the team. Just get out there and be a part of it and understand what’s going on and you can learn a lot from a team. I started in District 38 out in Plaster City. In Mexico, there’s District 37 and there are also CODE races and others to get into for a great start. These are great races to get your feet wet before jumping into SCORE where the competition is at a much higher level.” As more women find Matlock is accessible and willing to give words of wisdom, the field of women racers has increased over the time she has been racing. “I would say it’s easier for women to get into off-road racing,” says Matlock. “Women get into the sport when they see other women become successful at it.  Many look at me, Shelby Reid, and Sara Price and think if they can do it so can I. Knowing they have the support from those of us who have pushed further in the sport gives them confidence. That’s why it’s important to me to take the time and talk to future racers out there.”  Matlock understands her success has led to a leadership role within women off-road racers, especially the younger ones who are just now becoming involved and want to be competitive. “I think it’s a responsibility to be a proper role model,” she says. “There’s a responsibility that goes with winning races and being popular. But it’s not just about going out and winning races. There’s a lot more to it for sure and that’s what makes it fun for me.” Matlock and her husband Wayne also do a lot of charity work. Giving back to the people and children in Baja is important to them and the team. “We go down to Baja and give kids rides and we hope that influences them to get involved and have some exposure to racing that they would otherwise never have,” she says. “If any of them seek racing in the future, it would be amazing. If not, then at least they have a great memory. Giving back to Baja is great because it’s such an awesome community that supports racing and is something we’re passionate about. Even if what we do is on such a small scale, even just a small bit of gratitude we can give the people down there just makes a big difference.”   Meet Some Of The Women In SCORE While Kristen Matlock continues to be one of the top women off-road racers in the sport, new generations of women have come to compete. Some of these young women have grown up in the sport and are just now beginning to compete, while others are dipping their toes in the dirt for the first time, and finding off-road racing is helping them grow. We met several of these women and present you with their stories and how they got involved. SJ

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