Polaris Side-by-Sides Are Going Factory Racing

polaris factory racing program sxs utv
Polaris Side-by-Sides Are Going Factory RacingPolaris

We don't cover side-by-sides often here, but we're secretly in love with these open-air rally buggies. For me, the affection was earned off the back of an adventure down the Baja peninsula and by watching an F1 driver get down and dirty ahead of a pivotal junction in his career. So I keep a curious eye toward the SxS world as UTVs increasingly take over desert racing, with fingers crossed that the form factor will creep its way into stage rallying. (Imagine an affordable, accessible, safe way to get into stage rallying, with parts and support available at any local powersports dealer; I think it could save rallying in America.)

With its announcement, we're seeing a step in the right direction. Polaris unveiled a factory racing program (rather than factory support for a private team, as is the industry norm) which launches alongside a purpose-built RZR racing UTV. The Polaris team roped in a trio of rising stars—Austin Weiland, Brock Heger, and Cayden MacCachren—who will pilot these factory backed UTVs.

You'll be able to catch the new factory RZR and its drivers in SCORE International events like the San Felipe 250 and of course, the Baja 400, 500, and 1000. That last race runs from November 13-18. If you haven't made the pilgrimage to Baja for the ultimate off-road racing event, well, you aren't getting any younger.

We haven't received a look at the new UTV just yet—that's set to be unveiled next week on March 15th, but it's mere existence feels like a good omen. Generally, factory tech that survives the crucible of racing trickles its way down to showroom floors. At least, that's how the marketing for automobiles goes.

But with go-fast UTVs, which are free from over-regulation and generally used exclusively for dicking around off-road, we expect meaningful interplay between a factory racing effort and showroom models. That means if you're looking for an off-road rig with real homologation cred, Polaris should have you better covered than ever in the near future.

If the rest of the UTV industry follows Polaris's lead, I get the feeling we could see side-by-side racing expand beyond the desert. At any rate, competing factory programs generally produce the best racing, but even better, they offer wilder machines for us to drive down the line.

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