Formula Drift Champions Discuss Their First Experience Racing At NORRA 1000
Story By Tyler Tate
Photos Provided By Wheel Pros Powersports
To further prove their newest innovation, the 2-in-1 Tire & Tube Sealant for all off-highway vehicles, Slime, a leader in tire technology, announced that they partnered with professional Formula Drift drivers Chris Forsberg and Dylan Hughes who just completed a custom build on a works competition Slime Polaris Side-by-Side RZR UTV from the ground up to compete in the Norra 500 in October 2021.
“This is definitely one of the cooler builds we have done, especially since it takes us out of our element and into the off-road space,” said Chris Forsberg, three-time Formula Drift champion. “Rebuilding this UTV is one thing, it’s not a ton of fabrication like we’re used to in some of our builds, it’s more figuring out what the best parts are for racing in Baja and then making sure we get it all right.”
“Yeah, the Polaris RZR we are starting with is an amazing vehicle, but when you add the pieces we are using it becomes a legitimate Baja race-ready contender, which is so cool,” added teammate Dylan Hughes, Formula Drift professional driver.
The project is currently featured in a multi-part UTV web series hosted by Chris and Dylan. Three videos have been released so far, featuring the initial steps of the build process. These videos can be seen here: slime.com/roadtobaja. Additional videos are planned of the build process, as well as testing in the desert before the race, and of the race itself.
In drifting, everything has to be so precise for you to win, but taking those skills and adapting them to building a RZR that is race ready for an off-road series is a different challenge.
Chris: The RZR is such an approachable machine to build on. The RZR and Polaris as a brand have a proven track record of great performance in racing and to have a machine that is easy to start building on and a wide variety of parts that also have a proven track record of race success and not failure was important to us. We bought the machine in January and it took us a few months to finish between our race schedule and the availability of parts.
We are aware of what we are getting ourselves into and we wanted to learn to walk before we could run and the RZR stock platform allowed us to learn and grow with it and build the knowledge base we needed to be confident in taking on the Norra 500 race.
Dylan: Chris and I are also unique in the fact that beyond just being drivers, we both are fabricators. We work on the cars, bikes and trucks you name it. But with this, there was a learning curve. There are plenty of areas that were well out of our element. In order to finish first you still have to finish. But the RZR we built was relatively stock. There were places were we really built it out with additional parts, but what we learned the most was how to be careful with the machine and maximize what it is capable of.
Chris: We picked Norra because it is a little more of a low pace race versus the Baja race, where at the end of the night we come back to the starting point and we have time to look over the car. It was a race that we felt we could find success in because it was a more manageable race in how it was run.
Dylan: We both knew that we could be working all night getting the car back into race shape and it would not be the first time we have done that.
Drivers who drive on consistent surfaces or in a heat that lasts less than a minute often times are not prepared for the grueling environment and duration of an off-road race.
Dylan: 80% is ok. With drifting we push the car at 110% all the time. But with off-road, 80% is just fine. For Chris and me in drifting, there are times where we are outside of the car for three plus hours all while the track is changing. We have learned how to have a mental switch to be able to perform our best in a moments notice. I also have a rally background where I was training to be an instructor at Dirt Fish Rally School teaching people how to drive both two-wheel and four-wheel drive cars. The mental strength we both have made a big difference out there. Chris is a three-time drifting champion for a reason.
The partnership with Slime goes beyond the race. While the product helped to keep the tire full of air and moving, the race helps a company develop a better consumer product.
Dylan: I am true believer in the 2-in-1 product. It was proven right in front of my face numerous times. I have a Ford Ranger I run around in and it had a slow leak in the tire. I was constantly filling it up with air. Before I left town one week, I dumped a tube of Slime in there, filled the tire with air, drove and the block and left town. When I got back a week later, the tire was rock solid and at the pressure I left it at. Having seen it work and knowing that it will add a layer of protection for us out there helps our confidence level. It won’t protect us from slashing the sidewall open but it will from the other stuff.
Chad: We have tested the 2-in-1 in all different conditions and temperatures but we learned even more using the product in the Norra 500 race. We really wanted to see how it performs at this level. Testing in a controlled chamber is one thing, but seeing how Slime performs in long off-road race conditions was important to us. We say that if you put the product in the tire in the beginning, it will help prevent a flat for up to two years.
Even though they had both won drifting titles, both Chris and Dylan wanted the challenge of racing something different and the Norra 500 was an opportunity they felt was right for them.
Chris: I have always found off-road racing fascinating, there are so many layers to it. We love the build and fabrication process of the race prep. It is so polar opposite of what we do in drifting. In drifting the race is clean, it is short 30-second laps, where this is a whole different approach. Off-road is a marathon not a sprint and learning to keep a managed pace was key. Having a new obstacle thrown at us every mile, instead of the same course lap after lap, was cool and different from everything we have ever done.
Chris: Both Dylan and I are self taught mechanics. I learned from a friend of mine and Dylan learned from his Dad. Going through the process being so hands on gave us the confidence that we knew we could adapt our driving style to the machine.
Now that they have gotten a taste of off-road racing, you might see both Chris and Dylan more.
Chris: Ever since the last time I was in Baja I’ve wanted to come back with a better situation and I think this is it. We’re here in So Cal, the hotbed of off-road and I have a lot of friends that are in it. It’s definitely something I’d like to do more often.
Dylan: Don’t threaten me with a good time! I’m in for sure for off-road – ANYTHING. Really looking forward to doing this race with Slime and having fun. If this turned into more off-road racing I would love it. I know I’m going to like it, I have too many friends like Chris was saying that are into it or do it as another form of competitive racing to know it’s an addicting thing. We’ll see, but I would bet this won’t be the last off-road race I do!
You can follow both drivers on social media at @chrisforsberg64 , @dylanhughes129 and @slime (Facebook).