PROJECT ATV: Kymco 4×4 Racer

Racing is an expensive proposition. It seems like no matter what class you run, you are always racing against guys with a bigger budget. Well, there is a group of guys in the GNCC series who are trying to build up the 4×4 Lites class in hopes of keeping it a level playing field without breaking the bank and attracting more riders to the sport.

This class in the GNCC series was aimed to get local riders attracted to the sport at all the different venues the series stops at every two weeks. Chances are, within a 50-mile radius of each track, there are probably thousands of small to mid-sized 4x4s sitting in garages or working around the property that can feasibly be raced on any given weekend. The rules for this class are simple: you have to run a production 4×4 machine that came standard with front and rear racks and is under 580cc. The cc limit was set at 580, so guys with Polaris Sportsman 570s could have at least one piston overbore and still be legal.

Other machines you could run in the class and do very well on are the Grizzly and Sportsman 550s, the KingQuad, CFMoto and Foreman 500s. What we like is the grass-roots aspect of the class. At this level you could be very competitive on a virtually stock machine and get to race on the same track as famous 4×4 racers like Michael Swift, Bryan Buckhannon and Rick Cecco.


Branon White goes by the nickname “Vanilla Gorilla,” and is gaining popularity not only through his racing efforts but with some unique products he sells. Branon’s Vanilla Gorilla Racing signature product is an $85, 1/4-inch, UHMW full-underbelly skid plate for Honda TRX450s and Yamaha YFZ450s. Rotor and radiator guards, as well as a growing list of parts, are being developed constantly. We featured the skid plate product in the April 2015 issue. White is also a dealer for Aliant Batteries, OMF wheels and GMZ tires. He delivers to all GNCC races. Contact (336) 608-8091 or visit


Earlier this year we met up with Branon at a GNCC race to take a look at his 4×4 Lites racer and try the class out for ourselves. Branon uses a Kymco MXU500 to start with. It’s not heavily modified, but it does have some performance products. In fact, the internals of the motor are left stock. Remember, this is supposed to be a budget class, and without a ton of rules, it will take the racers policing themselves to keep it that way. One of the most important components to Branon’s Kymco are the tires and wheels. He relies on 25-inch-tall GMZ Slammer tires mounted on 12-inch OMF beadlock wheels with Tire Balls. With this setup, you can bet a puncture won’t end his day.

Some simple mods to the EPI clutch system to balance and lighten it up, as well as adding venting to keep it cooler, is as close to the motor as he gets. On the exhaust side, a Lone Star exhaust is used. For the shocks, Branon replaces the stock shocks suspension with Elka. More control was added in the form of an MZM Performance, +4-inch steering stem and a set of Fasst Co. Flexx handlebars mounted on top. The front and rear ends are capped off with custom Rath Racing aluminum bumpers. Rath supplies the oversized footpegs too. The underbelly is protected with a Vanilla Gorilla chassis skid, and the bodywork is dressed up using a custom graphics kit from Spider Graphix.


When we raced alongside Branon at the Florida round of the GNCC series, we got a good taste of what the Lites class is all about. Compared to the bigger quads, the speeds were much lower and safer for sure. We had a handful of other Kymcos competing, as well as a highly modified Can-Am Renegade 500. Branon had some brake issues that kept him from the win. Our editor had a good run racing a bone-stock Kymco MXU 500, while Fox Edwards on that highly modified Renegade took the win. White and Edwards have been fighting it out all year and are in a good battle for the points championship, with 10 other racers on Kymcos and Hondas trying to get in the mix. As you are reading this, the GNCC series will be getting ready to resume after the summer break, and if you live east of the Rockies and have a small-bore 4×4 and want to give GNCC racing a try, check out for directions to the next race.

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