Back in 2010, Murray Racing was searching for a new platform for their desert racing team. Also that year, BRP released the Can-Am® Commander™, their first foray into the world of SxS. The two became a perfect match. We asked Murray Racing about that transition, the current SxS desert racing scene and their plans for the new Can-Am® Maverick™.
Can-Am: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in off-roading and racing.
Murray Racing: We started out riding quads and dirt bikes. We transitioned to UTV driving with a 2006 Yamaha Rhino. We quickly got hooked in the scene of up-fitting the Rhino. We decided to take our Rhino and do a full modified cage, suspension, and try to make it the best we possibly could. This was the first time we did a full build, and for inspiration we would go on UTVunderground.com, look at pictures of other cars, and then take what we liked and tried to fabricate a full race car. In 2009, for Jason’s birthday in December, he wanted to take the Rhino and modify it to meet the BITD rules. We spent tons of hours to get it to meet spec, then went out and finished 3rd in our very first desert race. From then on, we were hooked.
Can-Am: Why did you decide to go into SxS racing?
Murray Racing: We had an original Rhino, and we started small and slowly built up the team we now have. We knew that we wanted to race, and we had debated between a lower level truck or buggy class, but ended up deciding to race in a SxS because we felt that it was a growing class with much potential. We felt that it would be one of the fastest growing classes, with a high level of competition. Outside of the premier class 1 or unlimited truck class, SxS racing has grown into one of the top classes with factory support, and it boasts a large following of recreational riders who own similar SxS. SxS racing is also one of the best values in off-road racing, with top cars now breaking the 50 mph average in a desert race. It’s pretty amazing what these machines are able to do.
Can-Am: Why did you choose Can-Am?
Murray Racing: When we were looking to be more competitive in the SxS class, we knew back in 2010 that we were going to need to step into a new platform. We looked at all the major manufacturers, and when we heard that Can-Am was coming out with the Commander in 2010, we were highly excited. We have owned other BRP products in the past and were always impressed with the Rotax® motors and the quality of the BRP brands. Can-Am is known to be powerful and reliable – two elements necessary for success in long-distance desert races. Once we test drove the Commander and saw how well it was designed, we knew this was going to be the perfect platform for us to commit to. We were hooked and happy we joined forces with Can-Am for the 2013 season.
Can-Am: What have been some of your racing career highlights?
Murray Racing: Finishing 21 consecutive BITD/SCORE races is a huge accomplishment of ours. Even within other classes, we don’t know of any teams that have been able to do this long of a streak.
Winning the Mint 400 was the biggest thrill for us. It was the first time SxS were able to race this prestigious race, and we have the first win in the record book. We’re also proud of finishing the last three seasons in the 1900 pro class in the top three overall.
Can-Am: Baja and the BITD series are not for the faint of heart. What keeps you in shape and motivated for these grueling races?
Murray Racing: These races are a ton of work. We spend hundreds of hours planning and prepping for each race. This is a sport of dedication and passion. Both BITD and SCORE are both physically and mentally challenging. Many races are 3-8 hours long, but some such as Vegas to Reno, Baja 500 or the 1000 can be 24-48 hours long. We are driven to try and be the best. That is a huge motivator, and it is what drives us to keep pushing on.
We also try to stay in shape for these races. Jason plays basketball weekly, and Derek plays soccer every week to stay in physical shape. Energy drinks also become your best friend in the long races, too!
Can-Am: We’ve seen that you guys already have a Maverick in your possession. What are your thoughts so far?
Murray Racing: The new Maverick is absolutely awesome! We have driven them in the dunes, desert, trails, and on the track. We have several hundred miles on the Maverick and not one issue, outside of a flat tire (stuck a yucca tree through the sidewall). It’s amazing to see a stock machine be as quick and handle as well as the Maverick does. Can-Am really did a good job on taking customer opinions and implementing them into this new unit. We can’t wait to race the Maverick this season.
Can-Am: We can’t wait to see the finished product. What can we expect to see once you guys have completed modifying it?
Murray Racing: We have seven Maverick units being built now – our first production run of Murray Racing-built Maverick SxS. Our first fully customized Maverick machines will make their debut at the first WORCS race at the end of January. (ed note – The Murray machine ran hard, but poor course markings and the unbelievably wet and muddy course contributed to the team finishing 10th.) We will have two to race at that time. Then our first desert-build Maverick will be debut at the SCORE San Felipe 250 the first week of March and our second desert Maverick at the BITD Mint 400, in the middle of March. We will have a few that are stock-like, while others for the desert will be purpose-built race machines, modified to meet the minimum safety requirements. We have a few surprises we will be trying out. You’ll have to check back to see…
We are excited to have Del Amo Motorsports join the Murray team this year as a driving partner and title sponsor. They will be a great addition to the program.
Can-Am: So, has it gotten dirty yet?
Murray Racing: Oh yeah. At first, we received three Mavericks, and we wanted to test them to see if there were any weak links in the system. We went out to the track, and it was super muddy. We drove the brand-new machines as hard as we could to see how they could take the abuse. We had such a great time up until we had to clean the machines. They were so muddy we took them to a coin-operated public wash and spent nearly five hours cleaning the mud that was 6″ thick everywhere. We had at least a hundred pounds of mud pulled from each Maverick. The good news, though, was that we couldn’t break anything!
Can-Am: What races are you most excited for this year?
Murray Racing: We are really excited for the whole season. It’s going to be a big challenge going from racing one car in BITD to racing in WORCS, BITD, SCORE, KOH, and possibly Robby Gordon’s Stadium Series. We are really looking forward to seeing if we can win the Mint again to make it back-to-back. We love that track and seem to do well in Primm. Also we are really looking forward to running the entire SCORE series this year. The Baja 1000 is going to be a big challenge we hope to conquer!
Can-Am: What goals have you set for your team and the Maverick this year?
Murray Racing: Our #1 goal is to be consistent and put the Maverick on the podium as many times as possible this year!
Can-Am: You have any advice to owners who are looking to get into a racing series such as the GNCC or BITD?
Murray Racing: We highly recommend if you have any interest in racing to start by helping a team who is currently out on the track now. Assist them with prep, help in the pits, and learn as much as you can. You’ll see what makes a team successful, and maybe you could earn a spot as a copilot or a back-up driver one day. Be professional, helpful, and have a good attitude. Start small and run Sportsman or in an entry-level class, then slowly work your way up. But beware, once you’re hooked, there may be no stopping all the fun!