Offbeat Sports Series: Quad Racing

Red ShannonFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2009

Once again we delve into the curious, bizarre, and often overlooked world of offbeat sports. You won't find coverage of these hidden gems in the national mainstream media. No, you must go to your sports source, Bleacher Report, to  uncover these obscure treasures of sport. Today we look into the exciting world of Quad Racing.

The hot Arizona night lent itself to the boisterous little cantina down the street. After a long day of racing in the extreme elements, "Ringo" the Baja Buggy could already taste the tequila.

Before he got halfway through the door, his eyes locked onto "Mota", the most gorgeous dirt bike he had ever seen. She was stripped to the minimum for speed, still warm from her own race and, well...a little dirty.

It was a mutual attraction - a match made in Nogales. One thing led to another and the rest, as they say, is history.

Quad racing was the offspring of Baja desert racing and two-wheel motocross.

To be even more precise, quad racing resulted from the natural evolution of the "need for speed" when the All-Terrain-Vehicle came on the scene in the late seventies.

The first ATVs were three-wheelers, or trikes. These tripods proved to be un-stable at speed and in turns, and quickly became obsolete. Four-wheeled ATVs, or quads, then became the norm.

As with any machine with wheels and a motor, tinkerers found ways to make the machine stronger, faster, go farther and last longer. Eventually competition became organized, with rules, sanctioning and a points system.

Today competitive quad racing is enjoyed by all ages and both genders. It has participants in virtually every major country in the world and is a growing enterprise because of its relatively low capital requirement.

Quad racing has a wide variety of disciplines: motocross, desert, speedway, road racing, enduro, hillclimb and drag/sprint. Racing classifications and engine displacement range from 50cc to 650cc. The season typically runs from March to November in the northern hemisphere.

The latest version of racing quads are state-of-the-art, with high-tech suspension and powertrain components. In the motocross discipline particularly, the top drivers are airborne a remarkable percentage of the race. Physical conditioning is therefore a major factor in quad racing.

Much like the early days of stock car racing, quad families migrate from venue to venue during the racing season. A sense of community pervades the camps at each stop.

Until race day. Then its every racer for himself.

With a brother and two nephews who were actively involved in quad racing, I had an opportunity to do a few "practice" runs in the Nevada desert. I can tell you it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.

But don't take my word for it.

Watch this clip or better yet, go do it! And never again forget the offbeat world of Quad Racing.

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