UTV PROJECT: POWER SPORTS NATION KAWASAKI KRX 1000 PROJECT

Working in reverse By the staff of Dirt Wheels, Photos by Casey Thomas

Here is Cameron Dickie’s modest Kawasaki race build on the track with one of the all-powerful TexPlex Can-Ams at the TexPlex 12-hour endurance race.

Power Sports Nation is a Nebraska-based company the specializes in used parts for ATVs and UTVs. Originally, the company sold complete used engines that were in good shape, but now it fully rebuilds and refurbishes engines to sell as crate motors complete with a warranty.

The company is owned by the Dickie family, and son Cameron built this Kawasaki KRX 1000 to be his race car for Ultra4, Red Bull races and his localish race series—Iowa ATV Hare Scrambles Series, or IATVHS for short. That sound normal, right? Choose to race, buy a car, build a car, race a car. The thing is, that is exactly the opposite from how things go at the business.

The TexPlex race wasn’t nearly as tight and twisty as where Cameron Dickie normally races, but his setup still worked well on the track.

HOW IT STARTED

Cameron’s father started the company buying vintage Honda minicycles. He then tore them completely apart and stored the parts for each machine in a container. He then sold the machine off in parts. Eventually, the company expanded to sell parts for all sorts of machines until it became apparent that the company needed to specialize on the best-selling, most desirable parts. For Power Sports Nation that meant ATVs and UTVs.

When the company buys machines, they are completely blown apart, graded, photographed and coded. The company can find any part in the huge inventory.

Even though PSN doesn’t usually build complete vehicles, it sometimes does for a couple of reasons. They have rebuilt complete machines using PSN used and refurbished parts to show the scope of the company’s range. They also build complete machines to gain product knowledge. 

Most families that decide to race round up sponsors, then all race the same brand to makes parts supplies easier. The Dickies are racing for fun but also to gain product knowledge. Each family member races a different brand of machine!

It seems odd to see a winch on a race car designed to rip laps in the woods, but it is required. There is no radiator behind that grill. It is relocated to the bed area.

WHY THE KAWASAKI KRX?

Cameron explained his choice of brand: “I wanted to have a reliable, naturally aspirated, all-around race car. It may not be the fastest on the track, but it will make sure you get to the finish line if the driver doesn’t mess up. The KRX is a very stout chassis to begin with. From the suspension to the driveline, it takes very little modification to be race-ready.

“We left the suspension components stock as it is very stout. After George White at Double E Racing reworked the shocks, the car became even more planted. He shortened the shafts, put new springs on and re-valved them. The machine lost a little ride height but gained much better handling. We were even able to remove the front sway bar.

“The stock rack and pinion are a 1-to-1 ratio, meaning that the steering wheel must make a full rotation to move the wheels all the way to lock. During the tight racing in the woods of Iowa we found the motivation to fabricate a steering quickener. We were able to put a 2:1 quickener in using a custom mount. This allows me to go lock-to-lock on the steering wheel without removing my hands from the steering wheel.

Racing requires a new cage and stronger doors. The flat doors leave the edge of the rear fender vulnerable. Cameron has ripped a few completely off racing through the trees.

BRAKE TO GO FAST

“The brakes needed major upgrades. I fought them for the first part of the season. The KRX is heavier, so it takes more brake to stop it. We were constantly boiling the brake fluid and burning through brake pads. We reached out to Brute Performance and installed its triple-piston front caliper, slotted brake rotors and master cylinder upgrade.

Double E Racing has done some nice work on the shocks. They are fully dialed, and the shocks are a little shorter. The changes aid the handling in turns.

“Brute uses a Polaris master cylinder and RZR Turbo three-piston front calipers. Paired with rotors and a brake fluid upgrade, we have yet to boil the brakes or lose stopping power.

There is no reason to carry extra weight like the rear bed floor and bodywork. The radiator has been relocated to the rear of the car to keep it out of the roost from competitors.

“The engine needed some pep in its step. We installed a mild 1065cc big-bore kit from Cylinder Works, Trinity exhaust to help it breathe, and custom tuning to make this KRX sing! The KRX cylinder could be bored larger, but we didn’t want to lose our reliability. Continued clutch tuning has rewarded us with great performance and getting all the power to the ground faster.”

Trinity’s muffler saves weight and adds a little power to the engine. It is nicely tucked in out of the way to keep it safe.

THE MIDWEST PERSPECTIVE

As we looked over the machine, there were several questions that came to mind. What sort of UTV racing needs a winch? A winch has a certain negative effect on front-end handling and suspension action. Cameron agreed but had an explanation: “A winch is required for Ultra4 racing.” Okay, got it. A Kawasaki comes stock with what we call “rock sliders” in the West, but in the flatlands they call it “tree kickers.”

The tree kickers on Cameron’s KRX looks like they have been through three seasons of demolition derby. Cameron disagreed: “For the tight, wooded Iowa races we use the tree kickers to pivot the car tighter. For stock tree kickers they have held up very well. I’m impressed.”

As far as we are concerned, one of the best features of the KRX is the 68-inch width. The setup in the Midwest is wide. Cameron didn’t want to narrow the stock suspension, so he chose zero-offset wheels to trim the width up to 65.5 inches.

The stock rock sliders/tree kickers have taken some serious abuse, but they are still protecting the rails of the machine. Cameron Dickie uses them to pivot the car around trees.

STYLE CHOICES

We also wondered about the interesting-looking doors. “Kawasaki has very good factory doors,” Cameron explained. “There isn’t much reason for companies to develop replacements, and I needed a stronger steel door. The flat doors are tucked in where the stock sculpted doors follow the body lines. On the positive side, the stronger tucked-in doors help with tree clearance. On the negative side, Cameron frequently tears the rear fenders off on trees.” Oops.

Cameron is happy with his choice. He has a machine that does what it wants to on the track, and it regularly gets him to the finish line. He wants to drive, not brake, and not have to rebuild the whole car between each race.

We wondered about pulling the front sway bar off the KRX. Normally, that would make the car wildly unstable in turns, but not this Kawasaki.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

We were impressed with the performance of the engine. It was super responsive and performed well. For our style of trail driving, the KRX is a winner with plenty of engine performance, but we can see why a racer would be looking for more. Kawasaki has very good stock suspension, but Cameron got his machine lower without losing any of the action we like so much.

Our driver was much smaller than Cameron, and they found the steering was hard with the quick-steering modifications. You see trail machines for rocks that need articulation by removing the front sway bar. It is impressive that Cameron’s KRX can remain steady and planted on the track without one. That says a lot about the suspension and the general setup.

Even though the motivation, reasoning and execution of this build are different than we normally see, the result is what we are used to seeing—a thoughtfully modified trail machine that is now finessed for a specific purpose. Performance facets that are important for racing are emphasized. The cage and doors are strengthened for safety, while some trail civility and comfort are trimmed back. This will never be a trail vehicle again, so it makes sense to make those sacrifices.

It takes dedication to start with a machine so new that it is an unknown quantity and then do much of the R&D  setup and performance on your own. That is the way they roll in Nebraska for racing in Iowa.

Jumps are a good test of a car’s suspension. The TexPlex jumps are shaped well, but flying straight and level like this takes suspension that is dialed in.

PARTS LIST:

ALL BALLS RACING: (515) 492-8000, www.allballsracinggroup.com

6000 lb. winch $404.95

Air filter $29.99

Wheel bearing kit $39.66

Brake pads $19.96

Cylinder Works big-bore

   cylinder kit $945.95

BRUTE PERFORMANCE: (865) 279-2237, www.bruteperformance.com

A-arm frame tab support gusset $69.99

Brake rotors drilled $349.99

Billet carrier housing $149.99

Billet fuel rail $149.99

Front brake kit upgrade and master cylinder $299.99

Drive shaft $599.99

Front differential input shaft $249.99

Seat belt bypass $9.99

Steel magnetic drain plugs NA

Tie-rod kit performance $329.99

CRASH ADDICT INDUSTRIES: (304) 937-2229, www.crashaddictind.com

KRX race cage with doors $3200

DOUBLE E RACING: www.doubleeracing.com

Shock custom tuning, springs, nitrogen caps $2400

HESS MOTORSPORTS: (940) 759-4597, www.hess-motorsports.com

Radiator relocation kit $1250

Steering wheel $90

HMF RACING: (216) 631-6980, www.hmfracing.com

U4 front bumper $399.95

Rear bumper $299.95

POWER SPORTS NATION: (402) 371-7002, www.powersportsnation.com

RAZOR EDGE DESIGN: (270) 978-7796, ww.razoredgedesign.net

KRX grill $155

Radiator relocation grill $130

RIGHT COAST OFF-ROAD: (919) 621-5115, www.rightcoastoffroad.com

Clutch kit $359.99

SEDONA TIRE AND WHEEL: (800) 999-3388, www.sedonatires.com

Sano beadlock wheel 15×6 5+1 $279.95

Trail Saw tire 30x10r15 $252.95

SPIDER GRAPHICS: (317) 996-5555, www.spider-graphix.com

Graphix kit $700

TIGER LIGHTS: (844) 456-4600, www.tigerlights.com

5” Mojave Series LED racing lights $299.95

TRINITY RACING: (714) 988-0339, www.trinityracing.com

Slip-on muffler $599.99

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