What Is a Racing ATV?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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A racing all terrain vehicle (ATV) is a robust vehicle modified or designed for racing conditions. Such vehicles need to be able to operate safely at high speeds and the focus of the design is on streamlining, rather than rugged performance typically needed for working vehicles. Also known as quads, ATVs can be raced in a variety of conditions by both professional and amateur athletes. Motorsports events may host ATV segments, and it is also possible to attend ATV racing events that revolve around the use of such vehicles.

As the name suggests, ATVs are designed to perform on a variety of terrain, including mountainsides, deserts, and snow. They are used for activities like rescue operations, hunting, and recreation. Many have powerful engines capable of hauling riders and their gear. They are designed to function in adverse conditions and may accommodate a passenger, in some cases, as with search and rescue vehicle. In remote areas, ATV transport may be the primary method of getting around, especially in the winter, when other vehicles cannot navigate ice and snow.


The design of the racing ATV retains the high stability and performance, but involves more streamlining to make the vehicle as fast as possible. A low center of gravity and light weight are needed for optimal performance in races, and the vehicle also needs a very good suspension system. There are a number of racing ATV designs, intended for different conditions like tracks, off road, and ice or snow. Athletes need to select the most suitable racing ATV for the event, based on what kinds of conditions they expect.

Many manufacturers sponsor racing teams and produce customized vehicles for their racers. In addition, they sell models to the general public with many of the same modifications, and accept customization orders. Engineers tackle issues like how to make a racing ATV as light as possible while retaining safety and functionality. Racing teams can compete in a variety of events for prizes. In the process, they also promote the designs of their sponsors.

Standard ATV designs are usually not suitable for racing, although riders may modify them. A true racing ATV needs to be developed with high performance in mind, which can require alterations to the entire design, from engine to wheels. These vehicles, in turn, are not suitable for other applications such as rescue work, where a more durable vehicle is necessary to ensure that people can access a variety of locations, potentially with an injured or disoriented passenger on the way out.


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