THE EVOLUTION of side-by-side models is proof that if something has a motor in it, then someone will want to race it. Originally the workhorse of the powersports world, the humble SxS design has expanded to include performance models like the Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS. The SxS racing movement has grown exponentially in the past two years, offering plenty of opportunities for dealers to get involved and possibly make more sales.
There are more SxS racing opportunities now than there were just a couple of years ago. On the national level, there are events like the Terracross Championship, which began three years ago and is televised on CBS Sports. SxS and ATV racers qualify for the Terracross Championship at races held by regional sanctioning bodies, like the Georgia Offroad Racing Series (GORS). WORCS Racing and GNCC are also hosting SxS racing, as are a host of smaller organizations.
“It has been an explosion of driver count,” said Tim Shelman, director of operations for WORCS Racing. “We offered it originally as a kind of sideshow entry for guys that had Rhinos and wanted to ride on the MX track. Now we’re having an average of 80 cars.”
GORS is only in its second season. The 2014 fields have doubled from last year, and racers are traveling to Georgia from as far away as Ohio. The series is exclusively for SxS racing, and owner Tim Wyatt said his organization was expecting as many as 35 vehicles for an upcoming event.
As a qualifying series for the ultra-competitive Terracross, Wyatt warns that GORS is not for the Sunday driver. “We don’t cater to the trail rider guy,” he said. “When I build my tracks, they are high-flying crowd pleasers, and the racers really enjoy it.”
Cost effectiveness is widely named as one of the reasons racers are turning to the SxS segment for their competitive kicks. Manufacturers are offering models that need only a few modifications before they are eligible for racing.
Then, of course, there is the safety factor: Having a five-point harness and a crash cage takes a lot of the risk out of racing. “I can crash this machine, and I’m going to work on Monday,” said Wyatt, who also races in WORCS. “That’s a huge appeal. I think the safety aspect of it is what is driving people there. There are all different walks of life in it.”