The racing bug finally stung.
Maybe you've been barreling around with your friends on the weekends and now you're ready to take it to the next level. Perhaps you woke up one day and wanted to do something new and different. Whatever the case, racing is fun, exhilarating and requires a bit more planning then simply buying an ATV and heading off to the local racetrack.
For now, we'll assume you already own an ATV and much of your time during the weekend is spent riding. If you did indeed decide one day to race and have never been on a 4-wheeler, then buy one and get all the related riding gear first. Get your bearings on it and then if you still want to race come back here. See our Choosing the Best ATV for Beginners guide to get you started.So, on to racing. We've put together a "pre-race" checklist to help you get underway:
- Join the ATVA
- Find a Race
- Know the Rules
- Wear the Appropriate Gear
- Know Your Class
- Attend a Rider's Course
- Join a Club
- Release Form
Join the ATVA
The first thing that's required to race ATVs is membership. No, not membership in a racing club though if there's a local one that certainly helps. You need to be a member of the ATVA or All-Terrain Vehicle Association. Just like the ATV counterpart on 2-wheels, dirt bike riders in Motocross need to be members of the AMA - American Motorcyclist Association.
To race in AMA or ATVA sanctioned races you must be a member of the ATVA.
Find a Race
You can either join a competitive or recreational race and the AMA makes it easy. All AMA sanctioned events including options to find only ATV events can be found here.
Know the Rules
What the heck do all those flags mean? You probably know what the checkered flag is. If not, it means the race is over! Hopefully you'll be the first racer to see it. Other flags warn you about a fallen rider or accident up ahead. The AMA offers a downloadable rule book which can be found here. Read it from beginning to end and then read it again.
In addition, once you've found a race know the track rules. Review the venue's website or check it out in person. Each track is different and the last thing you want is a disqualification and get tossed from the race. Know before you go!
Wear the Appropriate Gear
This is of course common sense and part of the track rules but safety can never be overdone. Ensure you've got the correct helmet (probably full face only), goggles, pants, shirt and boots. Amateurs typically don't need the full race jersey and associated outfit but pants and a long sleeve shirt is required. Hopefully, you already wear the necessary safety gear but if you're looking for a new helmet, check out these suggestions:
If you want to start your racing career with all new gear, the MotoSport ATV store carries all of the dirt bike protective gear featured in the guides below:
- Motocross Goggle Buyers Guide
- Motocross Body and Chest Protection Guide
- Motocross Protective Gear Buying Guide
- Motocross Boots Buying Guide
Know Your Class
ATVs come in a variety of engine sizes. Young kids ride smaller 4-wheelers and there may be additional class size entries so first-time amateurs don't race against, for example, semi-pro veterans. Class size can also divide age groups and/or gender.
Regardless of class, keep in mind that some racing requirements apply to all ATVs entered in a race. So be sure you have, for example, a number plate (probably on the front and back) and any other mandatory accessories. When in doubt, check out the rules!
Attend a Rider's Course
Blasting through the woods with friends is a far cry from an actual race. There's technique and specific methods that enable you to win holeshots, pass other riders and prevent them from passing you. Racing experience helps and so does watching other riders. But you'll get to where you want to be in terms of proficiency much faster if you attend a riding course. The All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (ASI) is a non-profit that offers an ATV RiderCourse in areas all over the country.
Join a Club
Joining a local ATV club whether for recreational riding or racing is not only a good introduction to the sport but a great way to meet new people who will be happy to help get you up to speed - in more ways than one! The Nebraska Off Highway Vehicle Association (NOHVA) is one example of an ATV club that not only helps riders but is also an advocacy group. Your state likely has similar clubs.
Yes, of course there's a release form. Racing is fast and dangerous which is probably why you decided to join the fray. But accidents do happen so you'll need to sign a release form and waive all liability. Race forms can be downloaded here. Sign and submit to the AMA.
Not so fast. Yes, you may just be that good but it's not going to come after your first race. If ATV racing indeed becomes more of a lifestyle and less a hobby then once you prove yourself as a winner, or at least potential winner, you can start looking for sponsors.
Now you're all set and ready to race your ATV. Once you've put a few races behind you the more comfortable the process gets. Most races carry similar rules and regulations so as you get experience and know the lay of the land, if you will, you'll spend more time in the seat practicing and less time studying the rule book.
Written By: AndrewT