Daryl Rath is one of the legends of ATV racing history. For well over 20 years, Rath has not only been competing on some of the sport’s biggest stages, he builds and sells performance components throughout the industry. If you look at the starting line of any Extreme Dirt Track, MX or GNCC event, you will see racers of all skill levels running Rath Racing front bumpers, nerf bars and sway bars.

Rath has helped both Polaris and Arctic Cat develop machines that have reached the showroom floor. He was one of the first to build competitive Arctic Cat Prowler UTVs and put together a team to campaign in the GNCC series on ultra-trick Polaris Sportsman 850s. Like many of the older ATV racers we have dealt with over the years, Rath has migrated toward racing UTVs, and his latest weapon of choice is the Polaris RZR XP 900. We recently had a chance to test out the Rath Racing XP and just had to share it with you.


This RZR was built for the tight woods of the GNCC circuit, which Rath has been competing on for years. His woods RZR is a torque monster. Internally, Daryl installed a high-compression, 975cc Trinity big-bore kit. Rath also had Trinity port and polish the head and add new cams. On the intake side, Rath built his own custom high-flow airbox. It’s basically a huge open aluminum box with all the openings covered in sheets of air-filter foam material. He will sell you one for $500. When you start this thing, you can tell it’s sucking some air and making serious power. On the exhaust side, Rath relied on a dual system from the horsepower gurus at DASA Racing. To get this power to the ground, Rolly Bartell at Thunder Products did extensive clutch tuning, and it worked.

This thing rocketed between the trees. You stomp on the throttle, and the RZR nearly wheelies out of every corner. Both the driver and passenger get their heads thrown back into the seats even when you just blip the throttle. The DASA exhaust is loud, but that’s a price you have to pay if you want to win. The power was delivered to the ground through a matching set of 27×9-14 Maxxis Viper tires. It was the Dirt Wheels testers that first figured out running the same-size tires on all four corners of a UTV was the hot setup. In the woods we tested in, the Vipers were perfect. They have a short V-shaped pattern that hooks up well while still stopping decent. Clean out in the muddy sections was quick, so we never lost traction as the terrain conditions changed.

Like many racers, Rath relocated his radiator to behind the rear seats using a couple of mounting tabs he welded to the back of his custom $1749.95 XC cage. This keeps the radiator from packing with mud that is always kicked up from vehicles you are trying to pass. Another cooling trick Rath did on this engine is to install an oil cooler from a big Victory motorcycle.


What makes this RZR capable of driving fast through the tight woods is the way Rath set up the chassis to begin with. The narrow tires all the way around are actually mounted up on a set of narrowed-up aluminum beadlock wheels that Rath builds himself. He calls them the Wrath Zero Offset RZR wheel. At $425.95 each, these wheels narrow up any RZR over 2 inches. Two inches is a lot when you see how tight some sections of the GNCC UTV tracks are. On the inside of those wheels, Rath uses Fox 2.5-inch shocks on all corners. Theses are bigger than what comes stock on a RZR XP 900 and offer full adjustments.
Another trick Rath uses to navigate the woods in a hurry is that he mounts two of his custom sway bars in the car. One goes in the stock location behind the seats, and the other mounts to the front of the frame ahead of the driver’s feet and clamps to the top A-arms. His sway bars sell for $525.95 for the front and $439.95 for the rear. The dual sway bars make the RZR stiff but not jarring to the driver. The machine has virtually no body roll, so you can slide the back end with total predictability and precision. This car does have a power-steering unit and a steering quickener that is mandatory in the woods. Neither make the machine twitchy; it’s a good combo. As added insurance from tangling with a tree or another competitor in the woods, Rath uses a set of steel nerf bars on the sides of his RZR. This helps if he was to clip a tree after passing it with the front tires; the rear tires won’t get caught up and get him in trouble. Rath sells the bolt-on nerf bars for $495.95. The nerf-bar mounting points do have to be welded on and work with the stock frame and roll cage.

To finish off the cab of this racer, Rath installed a pair of Twisted Stitch seats and a Pro Grip aluminum steering wheel with a quick-disconnect coupler. Crow five-point harnesses keep the occupants strapped in, and a Rath aluminum roof at $165 keeps a lid on everything. The doors are Rath Race Series, and the pair sells for $595.95.


Slicing and dicing through the woods in a high-horsepower UTV is a bit crazy. One wrong move and it can get expensive with broken parts and bent frames. However, Rath Racing has figured out some very unique and cost-effective ways to do it with less risk. Rath’s wheels, nerf bars, sway bars and other tricks can help make any stock RZR more woods-worthy. Those items, along with the motor mods and clutch tuning, could easily get an aggressive racer to the finish line first—probably even faster than driving an XP 1000. If you are looking for that extra edge for your woods RZR, give Rath Racing a call at (320) 234-7223. View the online catalog at www.rathracing.com.

Comments are closed.