— Sara Price’s King of Hammers UTV —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Sara Price is one of the most driven, capable and impressive ladies we know in the off-road industry. We have featured her racing machines and adventures throughout our magazine, social media and web presence. Sara and her remarkable co-pilot, Erika Sacks, have raced in Africa, competed in high-horsepower Baja trucks, and continue to battle for top finish at the infamous annual King of the Hammers UTV race.
Last year’s KOH was tough, and this year’s event brought even more challenges to the 100-plus entrants of the race. Sara and Erika knew that to have a chance to win, podium or even complete the intensive competition, they needed a machine capable of tackling the harsh desert conditions. King of the Hammers is a desert race that funnels machines through and over vehicle-size boulders, high-speed desert sections, deep sand and some of the toughest terrain around in Johnson Valley, California. Price and Sacks picked up two 2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo S models and began building the “Twins”—one RZR to pre-run and the other to race!
LET THE BUILD BEGIN
The Twins were made to be practically identical, but the race rig is what our focus is on. Simply completing the grueling King of the Hammers race starts with protection parts. Once the 2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo S was stripped of its plastic, aftermarket protective components were bolted up. A strong Cagewrx Baja Spec roll cage with a roof and intrusion bars take the place of the stock setup. Tipping over in rock-crawling scenarios is basically a “will happen” scenario, so a protective cage is crucial. Mastercraft S2/4 mounting brackets and seats were bolted into the cab with 16.1 Restraint Latch and Link 5Pt 3×3 seat belts to hold the ladies safely in the RZR. Safecraft fire extinguishers with quick-release mounts were placed in the cab and on the roll cage in case of a fire.
Polaris accessories offers aluminum doors for the machine that keep trail debris out and the riders in. Most of the stock suspension components of the RZR S remained on the machine, but they needed protection so Price could pilot the machine through boulders. Factory UTV offers the Ultimate 1/2-inch UHMW kit that includes belly skids, rock sliders, trailing arm skids, and A-arm skids that also protect the axles and CV joints.
We always say that protection is the most important factor, but a great-handling machine could be counted in that category; instead, it sits in second place. The S was equipped with Walker Evans Racing 2.5-inch Velocity shocks. These top-of-the-line piggyback-reservoir shocks come with a dual-rate spring setup with crossover rings. The two springs of the dual-rate setup are separated by a spring guide. The top tender spring is soft and soaks up chop, while the bottom main spring is stiff and handles the hard hits. A crossover ring is mounted on the shock body. The springs slide over the ring, but the spring guide is stopped by it during the shock’s stroke.
While this all seems a bit complicated, it offers more shock-tuning ability. The crossover ring controls how soon the stiffer spring comes into play. The WER Velocity shock is spring preload adjustable, and has high- and low-speed compression adjustability. The shocks are attached to the frame and the stock Polaris RZR front A-arms and rear trailing arms. Price and Sacks wanted to retain a lot of the stock components to keep the machine reliable. The only other suspension components that were changed was the swap to Zollinger Race Products 7075 Pro-Series high-clearance HD radius rods.
SuperATV Rhino 2.0 heavy-duty axles replaced the stock ones. Connected to the stock spindles and hubs were Raceline A71MB Mamba beadlock wheels with BF Goodrich T/A KR2 tires that are more than capable of handling the abuse of the desert.
KOH is known for treacherous rock and boulder sections. Erika Sacks not only navigates, she is in charge of jumping out of the RZR to run the winch line, direct Price through the boulders and make sure the machine is still in race condition. They installed a Polaris PRO HD 4500-pound winch with Rapid Rope Recovery technology to make winching quick and easy.
Next, a Rugged Radios RRP660 two-person communication system with a 60-watt radio was installed so the gals could easily hear each other while racing and could contact their pit crews during the competition. Somehow, Price manages to lose a few antennas on her race machines, so they found a company called Ebbco Offroad that makes a guard for it. Ebbco also provided the number plates. A Lowrance GPS, mounted in front of Sacks, rounded out the navigation and communication systems.
The build was finalized with power performance upgrades. When you add a lot of weight to any machine, not only do you need to improve the handling characteristics, you need to up the power. Evolution Powersports hooked the Polaris up with their QSC Rev X clutch kit that made this rig react and put out power stronger than in stock form. Evo’s Magnum slip-on exhaust was fitted to the RZR, too.
When you add an exhaust, increase the fuel output and adjust the clutching, the machine needs to breathe air easier. A K&N air filter and intake were fitted to the Turbo S, which allows the UTV to do exactly that.
IN IT TO WIN IT
Price and Sacks’ race RZR had all the parts needed to safely and competitively race King of the Hammers. The suspension is supple and smooth through chop, and when they hit large whoops or square edges, the WER shock’s bottoming resistance prevents rattling the occupants around too much. Evo Powersports power upgrades brought the horsepower beyond its stock output, and the clutching made the heavier-than-stock rig feel light and quick.
The protective parts from Cagewrx, Mastercraft, Polaris and Factory UTV did their jobs during the 100-plus-mile race. Sara and Erika experienced a few broken parts, a rollover and more, but managed to fix their Polaris quickly and complete the 2019 King of the Hammers, which is a major feat in itself! Less than half of the competitors made it through the finish line.
We believe they have the skill to win KOH after watching their latest performances. Erika and Sara recently competed in the first round of SCORE for the San Felipe Baja 250 in Mexico in the Spec class of Baja trucks and landed an impressive second place! Until then, the Twins are still pre-running other races and used for recreational driving. We wouldn’t mind taking one off their hands!
PARTS & CONTACTS
Baja Designs: (760) 560-2252, www.bajadesigns.com
Headlight Pro KIT $984.95
S2 Pro amber spot $184.95 each
BFGoodrich: www.bfgoodrichtires.com, local dealer
Baja T/A KR2 UTV $199 each.
Cagewrx: (951) 223-9118, www.cagewrx.com
XP Turbo S Baja Spec cage, assembled, powdercoated (includes roof) $2,199.99
Ebbco Offroad: (951) 326-7721, www.ebbcooffroad.com
Antenna guard $89.95
Number plates $279.95
Evolution Powersports: (970) 680-3861, www.evopowersports.com
QSC REV X: N/A Magnum slip-on exhaust $699
K&N Filters: (951) 826-4000, www.knfilters.com
Air filter $76.99
Lowrance (PCI race radios): www.pciraceradios.com
Elite-9 Ti2 starting $849.00
Mastercraft: (619) 449-9455, www.mastercraftsafety.com
S2/4 seats $449.95 each
S2/4 mounting brackets $79.95 each
16.1 restraint latch and link 5Pt 3×3 meets SFI 16.1 $149.95 each
Polaris: (800) 765-2747, www.polaris.com
Aluminum two-seat lower half doors $584.99
Pro HD 4500-pound winch w/ rapid rope recovery $849.99
Raceline: (800) 529-4335, www.racelinewheels.com
A71MB Mamba race wheel $215.95 each
Factory UTV: (916) 383-2730, www.factoryutv.com
Ultimate 1/2inch UHMW kit $1,300.90
Rugged Radios: (805) 541-1696, www.ruggedradios.com
RRP660 2-person system w/60-watt radio & helmet kits $1,228
Safecraft: (800) 400-2259, www.safecraft.com
PB3 w/ quick-release mount $533
PB5 w/ quick-release mount $660
SuperATV: (855) 743-3427, www.superatv.com
Rhino 2.0 axles $224.95 each
Walker Evans Racing: (951) 784-7223, www.walkerevansracing.com
2.5 Velocity shock kit $3599.96
Zollinger Racing Products: (435) 753-2733, www.zollingerracingproducts.com
7075 Pro-Series high-clearance HD radius rod set $950