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ATV Racing for Beginners

The excitement of racing has an allure: speed, a little bit of danger, and glory for the winners. Competition appeals to a lot of us, whether we want to participate or just observe. Racing isn't for the faint of heart, and it's not something new riders should try to tackle. Once you've got a solid footing on your ATV and plenty of experience in different settings, you may be looking for something more challenging. If racing is something you're considering, read through our article to see if you're ready to join the ranks of the ATV competition world! 

Preparing to Race

Before you approach racing, it’s important to note that ATV racing is designed for riders with experience. A “Beginner” level race does not mean inexperienced. Beginner level races are for riders who have spent hundreds of hours practicing, who know their vehicle well and are capable of maneuvering it at high speeds and in tight turns without incident.

It’s wise to practice in various terrain, even if you’ll be drag racing. Exposure to unpredictable elements teaches a rider how to adapt on the spot, as things can go wrong even on a flat track. Once you’re familiar with how your vehicle handles, practice tight turns, changing speed quickly, and build up your endurance. One mistake many new racers make is not building up their forearm strength, which is especially important for endurance events.

Before you can enter a race, you must be a member of the All-Terrain Vehicle Association. This site will connect you to important information that will ensure you’re ready to ride. If you’re looking for more events, the AMA has several different varieties listed on their site.

Your vehicle will need to be outfitted with a kill switch, rear number plates, and nerf bars. Why? The kill switch connects you to the vehicle. In the event that you become separated from your vehicle, the kill switch shuts it off. Nerf bars prevent tangling with other riders, especially in close quarters, and rear plates are used for identification. These three things are mandatory to enter your ATV in a race.

Down the road, you’ll want to modify tires, wheels, and exhaust to boost performance. Consider these ATV racing tires to boost your footprint:

itp holeshot

ITP Holeshot

maxxis razr

Maxxis Razr

cst ambush

CST Ambush

kenda klaw xcr

Kenda Klaw XCR

sti tech 4

STI Tech 4

innova knobby

Innova Knobby

Racing Tips

When you see experienced ATV riders on the trail or track, they make things look easy, but these skills were not learned in a day. Mastering the right techniques and knowing when to implement them sets the novice apart from the expert. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • If you are racing, your ATV will need regular adjustment. Find a mechanic with the knowledge and skill to properly care for your vehicle
  • Special tires and suspension adjustment are two important alterations needed to outpace competitors
  • Seek out more experienced riders to practice with. They'll notice things that will hurt your performance and can teach you proper corrective techniques
  • Learn how to Give and Take in the corners. Reducing speed in the short term to gain greater vehicle control is critical. Accelerate OUT of the turn, not into it
  • Invest in an HMF Competition Series exhaust system. Designed to deliver enhanced performance while controlling noise, this exhaust system comes with 3 different sized inserts with progressively larger openings to customize your exhaust


With several variatons to choose from, finding a race that suits your skills and satisfies your interests shouldn't be hard. Some involve laps, some are on flat tracks, like drag races, and some are done purely for shock and awe with stunts. Most organizers provide trial runs at the track, giving riders an opportunity to fine tune their vehicles to the terrain. Consider changing tires, jetting, sprocket sizes and wheel setups. 

Since its founding in 1979, the Grand National Cross Country series (GNCC) has grown to include more than just motorcycles, offering races for ATVs and UTVs, as well. These races vary in length and over the course of a few months, racers compete for points to determine an ultimate champion. Currently, 47 classes are offered for ATV racers. 

A race may have as many as 1800 competitors, so making it to the finish line is a combination of skill, stamina, good equipment, good ATV tires, and a dash of luck.

Drag racing has evolved into more than just a way to test raw horsepower. Drag races put your ability to control your ATV to the ultimate test. Some categories are based on ATV manufacturer, i.e. all participants are of a specific make.

No matter what you choose, speak with experts, friends, and people you know who race to gather as much information as you can.

Enter a Race

You can purchase a competition membership for a year, or for a discounted price you can purchase up to a three-year membership. Check out some of the other benefits of becoming a member of the ATVA on their website.

Once you’ve secured a membership, check with local ATV organizations for upcoming races in your area. You should enter your first couple of races as a novice so you can race against other beginners and get a better grasp of your skill level. As you improve, you can move through the ranks to more serious competition.

Finally, check your ATV over and make sure it is suited for racing. See if your shocks are adequate, consider upgrading to racing ATV tires, look into some comfort grips and maybe some durable bumpers. And it wouldn’t hurt to check yourself over, too. Being in good physical shape will only improve your racing performance. A few tips:

  • Practice makes perfect. Set aside time at least every other day to ride. If you want to be highly competitive, get out on your ATV six times a week
  • Build your endurance on and off your vehicle. Add cardio to your regular fitness program, and build up the capacity to stay on your ATV for two hours at a time
  • Dedicate part of each day to building up arm, wrist, and hand strength
  • Eat a balanced diet

Securing Sponsorships

You've probably seen big name brands sponsoring major events and races. But how do you secure a sponsor for yourself? Start local! Ask companies in your area to sponsor you. It's a mutually beneficial agreement; companies get free advertising and you can offset some of the costs associated with racing by getting discounted or free products. But how to ask? 

Be professional. A resume that's short, sweet, and full of contact information is a good start. Make sure you have a professional email address, and it's wise to include photos: one headshot and one action shot. 

Proofread! The last thing you want is to turn in something that's full of errors. Find someone who is good at proofing, and triple check that all your information is updated and correct. 

Be polite. Larger sponsors receive asks all the time. Be personable, but polite, and be willing to negotiate, especially when you're newer to the racing world. 

Show and Tell

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