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SPEED UTV ON THE RACECOURSE  This UTV manufacturer has its roots in racing Story by Stuart Bourdon Photography Courtesy Speed UTV In the last few years, UTVs have ignited off-road racing very much like the neo-trophy trucks running in Class 8 heated things up during the early 90s. SCORE Trophy Trucks would eventually become the kings of the racecourse and take their place as today’s premiere competition vehicle in all forms of off-road racing. The UTV we see today, however, is growing in popularity and prominence at an astonishingly similar pace as the SCORE Trophy Truck. Compared to the UTVs of yesterday, what was essentially a farm implement, ranch ride, or early form of recreational sport vehicle, has grown in leaps and bounds into one of the most popular ways to go off-road racing. The number of entries at recent desert races has been greater than 100 vehicles in a variety of UTV classes, and those numbers are on a steep upward climb. Most UTV manufacturers began in the utility marketplace and much of their design originated from that no-frills workplace mentality. However, the newest manufacturer to get into the UTV game comes from a racing background. Speed UTV is the brainchild of off-road racing champion and multi-discipline driver Robby Gordon and his business partner, motorcycle and Trophy Truck racer Todd Romano. Both also have long histories in the UTV world. Gordin was instrumental in some of the earliest “sport” UTV vehicle designs. Romano was on the crest of the sport UTV wave 20 years ago, creating a performance UTV equipment and race-car company. Racing Influences “Speed UTV draws from the collected racing experience of a team owner, business owner, engineers, mechanics, drivers, and builders. Our team has a background in many forms of motorsport including Indy, NASCAR, and off-road,” said Gordon. “Although Speed UTV is primarily targeted at the sport recreational market, much of the design comes from things we’ve seen, learned, and built for racing. For instance, the Speed UTV front differential design comes from my ‘Unicorn’ Trophy Truck and was originally influenced by an Indy Car transaxle. A lot of the technology in our UTV comes from the various racing disciplines we’ve been involved in,” added Romano. “Failures and successes in racing showed us how to build better cars.” Another example of the influence race cars have on the Speed UTV is in the chassis design. “Indy car racing experience has helped with the car’s turbo development, as well as what we’ve done with the chassis design,” added Gordon. “There are a lot of ‘UTV-firsts’ on our cars, such as hydraulic power steering, internal bypass shock absorbers, and torque limiters inside the front differential and the rear end. We also offer CVs with five inches of travel so the car can run tall tires with no scrub. The engine can run on different fuels without changing anything, and its turbocharger features an adjustable boost. Our chassis comes right out of the box with an FIA-inspired frame. It’s the only UTV to offer that level of race-ready design. It also features a full accessory belt drive system for the alternator, hydraulic power steering, and AC compressor. We will also have full doors with glass and a windshield. It will be the first to offer a full in-cab AC system.” Speed UTV’s Future Within various classes and rule changes, Gordon and Romano believe there will be increasing demand for race-ready UTVs. “We were providing the race-prepped Rhinos for the Sportsman UTV racing class in those early days when a dozen entries across the board would have been a lot in a race series,” said Romano. “I think it’s likely there will soon be 300 entries in the UTV classes at various races this year.” “We are fortunate to have been there in the beginning and have extensive experience with UTVs,” adds Gordon. “We are now in a position to be a manufacturer and build our cars. The bulk of our sales will be to sport recreational users, but the fact remains that right now, our cars have the most horsepower and the most suspension travel of any other mass-produced UTV. I believe Speed UTV is the least expensive way to get into a race car because it already starts with so much.” With the quality of components added to the Speed UTVs these vehicles may seem expensive at first, but in actuality, but Gordon and Romano explain that there’s nothing left to do if you want to go racing and be competitive. “The Speed UTV has been designed to be race-ready at an easily accessible price,” said Gordon. “Our car has the best of everything, it’s all-wheel drive, makes about 300 horsepower, and it offers about the same suspension travel and can run the same tire size as a top-competitive level Class 10 race car. A good fully built race UTV can be 120-grand. With our car (Speed UTV) you can buy doors, a roof, put in a fuel cell, and go racing. Even with radios, intercoms, and everything else, you’re going to have one of the best race cars available for a whole lot less.” SJ

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