SCORE Journal


SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 52 of 102

TESTED BY BAJA Polaris Has A Long History Of BaJa Racing That Developed New Innovations By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo When it comes to a long-term commitment to Baja racing, Polaris has been a serious player from the start. The company brought out one of the very first factory teams with Jagged-X racing more than a decade ago. That amount of experience continues to make side-by-side vehicles better, safer, and easier to drive. “When we first came out with the RZR 800, we teamed up with Jagged-X racing working with Bill Scheuler,” said Brett Carpenter, Polaris Manager, ORV Racing. “Factory involvement in off-road racing was a turning point. Polaris knew racers would put the machines through the paces, and learning from this would only make the vehicles better. Early on, we began working with the teams that we felt gave us the best shot to win, as well as provide us with feedback for product development and improvement. Working with Jagged-X was one of the first teams that we’ve had that relationship with, and that effort has since grown with them and other teams.” By far, when you compare the Polaris RZR 800 to today’s RZR Pro XP, there is a large difference in appearance and performance. Much of that came from Polaris’ experience in racing. “We were used to seeing Polaris RANGERs as workhorse utility machines. It's amazing how far these machines have come since we started racing over 10-years ago,” said Carpenter. “If you try to compare the first RZR 800 to today’s latest models, they are not even in the same category. For example, our involvement in off-road racing has helped develop suspension systems with much greater capability. We now have electronics that can adjust the suspension on the fly with an in-vehicle touch screen with RIDE COMMAND technology.” Along with innovation, racing experience also comes with some victories. In SCORE International racing alone, Polaris has won a total of 43 PRO UTV class wins since the start of the SCORE Pro UTV class in 2013. More than any other UTV manufacturer. Also, Polaris is the Official UTV of SCORE International, and it is the most popular vehicle raced in the SCORE World Desert Championship. With these victories, input from drivers and teams plays an important role in improvements to the vehicle. “We take feedback from all of our factory racers,” says Carpenter. “Prior to even competing in a SCORE Baja 1000 race, our vehicles through rigorous testing to meet the highest standards that both Polaris and our customers expect. And then, feedback from our racers helps even further to develop stronger machines. It’s the same with consumer feedback-- we are constantly taking in customer input, learning what their needs are, and working to improve our machines to make a better experience for them.” With these vehicles being faster, more capable, and safer than ever, it seems there’s not much room left for improvement, but Carpenter says there are many more changes to come in future models. “One of the biggest things Polaris does to improve its vehicles is to make the experience much more enjoyable,” he says. “Aside from capability, improvements in ride and comfort are important areas to always be improving. We want to create the best rider experience whether a customer is taking on a whoops section, going wide-open or tackling technical terrain. In the end, we create a variety of vehicles for everyone from full SCORE racers to first-time enthusiasts.” With many racing classes in SCORE, Polaris is also looking at the ability to get more people involved in off-road racing by using their vehicles. “We see a lot of value from the entry-level classes like SCORE’s Pro Stock UTV class,” says Carpenter. “It’s much more attainable as more of a turn-key solution to racing. For example, Mike Cafro won the 2020 SCORE Baja 1000 in a stock Pro XP with some minor safety upgrades. It’s great for us to say that a vehicle you can buy off the showroom floor competed in Baja and won. Likewise, the more racers using our products in higher-level racing classes allows us to talk more about the vehicles when we win. In the end, if we get enthusiasts interested in racing within entry-level classes, it’s a great pathway for racing in faster classes.”

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of SCORE Journal - SCORE-Journal-March-2021