WIDE OPEN

Best in the West By Colin Duffy

This is one of D.West’s fun creations for Dirt Wheels. It showed up in the April 2013 issue as an April fools’ joke.

Dennis West has rarely been seen sliding, wheelieing or jumping a quad or UTV in Dirt Wheels photos. Though he has been largely unsung in the pages of Dirt Wheels, “D. West” (as we called him) has shaped every issue of the magazine that our readers have ever opened. Starting with the very first issue, the pages covered in silky-smooth ink, showing you the best machines in the business, were editorially or artistically guided by D. West. This issue is the first you will read where he hasn’t eagerly gathered the letters and other input from readers and shaped them into a form that looks good and reads well in the magazine.

D. West has happily retired after almost 40 years of service to our company. Our layouts, artistic direction and much more went through his critique. His expertise shaped the covers, influenced the editorial direction and progressed with the new ages of technology through social media and web work. 

Mr. West started off as the Art Director for two of our dirt bike magazines, and at one time was hands-on with the look of every magazine that Hi-Torque Publications produced: Dirt Wheels, 3 -and 4-Wheel Action, UTV Action, Dirt Bike, Motocross Action, BMX Plus, Mountain Bike Action and more. As a former motocross racer and enthusiast, he was the perfect fit for our industry.

Once Dirt Wheels came to fruition, West switched gears to the three- and four-wheel obsession we hold dear. One of my favorite quips he always laid out for us during photo selection was, “That guy has my riding style!,” as the photo depicts a quad rider sliding sideways in a corner with a massive roost hanging in the air. He was tireless in fighting for quad and three-wheeler content in the magazine.

Dirt Wheels may have lost a major driving force, but we will press on. D. West’s other duties often precluded him from shooting photos or riding for them, but his name was frequently in the magazine. Our new Editorial Director, Cain Smead, has had a much larger presence in our pages. Cain Smead was part of Dirt Wheels during the glory years of quads, but most recently he has been at the helm of our sister publication UTV Action. Cain is a die-hard quad guy. He rails at pro-level speeds on a sport quad, and if you value your 4×4 quad and your body, we advise caution if you ever get an invite to accompany him on a 4×4 quad adventure.

His garage contains both a Suzuki LT-R450 and a project TRX250R, so he hasn’t forgotten his quad roots. He is also a die-hard, respected and well-informed UTV hand. Look through the race results for big desert races and you will see his name as one of the drivers for front-running teams in long desert races. On lesser weekends he races UTVs in local series races—UTVs he’s modified and race-prepped himself. Have no fear, the wheels keep turning, the machines keep roosting, and we will continue to provide you the best content on all things ATV- and UTV-related.

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