Being a car guy and not having a ton of experience in a side by side I was very well aware of several folks fear that they dig up the track and roll over easy. My personal thoughts on the side by side is that anyone who feels that they are a concern needs to drive one. As with any true motor sporting event if you have someone who drives over their limits, stuff will happen. However, if you drive within your and your machine’s abilities – you can stay safe. This rule applies equally to driving a side by side at one of these events.
We both started off the day taking it easy, making sure that we didn’t dig up the track or put ourselves at risk of an incident. We eased on the gas over the start line for fear that we would rip up the starting strip thing, and eased on the gas through the turns. We progressively pushed more and more, resulting in faster turn exits leading us to having to brake harder entering turns (a new potential risk). This wasn’t my machine, so every run saw a different “experience” for me, as I learned how the side by side would act and what it could do. More experience will certainly lead to significantly faster but still very safe runs.
We ran with DOT tires and after the first run ran with AWD turned on, maybe that helped prevent the thing from making ruts. I think with some practice tuning the shocks and tire pressures we could get some of the “push” in the turns out of it and we could go faster but overall it handled well. If you look and analyze somewhat comparable run times, the side by side was as fast as the fastest cars, and if we had times throughout the day and time to play with the setup we likely would have pushed a little harder (maybe it was better we didn’t for our first event in this!)
Those that want the FTD probably won’t like side by sides as they will and should feel challenged, but those willing to look outside the box and welcome these awesome machines will enjoy watching them rip through the course.
Final thought…. You cannot throw them into a turn like the fast cars/trucks were (especially those long wheelbase trucks – very exciting to watch!) But if you are truly a good driver and know the meaning behind “slow is fast” you will have enjoyable safe runs. I watched Wyatt Knox in the video from Tim O’Neil Rally School before going to this event and he nailed it with his comment that you cannot drive it like an AWD rally car.