Living For That Adrenaline Thrill
RJ Anderson Knows To Stay On The Skinny Pedal
Story By: Cody Carney
Photos By: Tom Leigh, Jason Zindroski, and Jason Stilgebouer
Having a passion for off-road can stem from many different places. There are those that have grown from child to adult in the time that UTVs have been around, and their passions for the sport have grown alongside it. RJ Anderson has been in the UTV industry for just over twelve years and has competed as a professional off-road racer for the last eight of them. It was before his induction into UTVs, however, that his passion for off-road began to develop.
Coming from a father who was in the race world, it’s no surprise RJ was around four wheels for basically his whole life. RJ’s dad was the crew chief for Walker Evans and has been involved in off-road racing for over thirty years. This put him right in the mix of things as soon as he was born. Around the time RJ was about five or six years old Walker retired, taking dad out of the daily limelight for the better part of RJ’s life. Now not doing much in the sport himself, it was time to focus on setting up RJ to jump in himself.
The competitive itch began to develop and finally RJ would try his own hand in racing when he was about twelve years old. He started out with go-carts for his first race and it quickly transitioned into the dirt. Years later he would drive his very first 2008 Polaris RZR. Since his racing career began, RJ has been making a name for himself in the sport where today he finds himself impressed by the very machines and industry he competes in.
RJ: “The sport of UTVs is just expanding every single day. What we have now with the 2020-2021 models is just insane. The sport itself has grown with the vehicles. The power, the travel, the people, and how many actual industry people are in this is insane. It’s hard to even put into words on where this is going because it’s grown so big from what it started as. It’s kind of a joke that UTVs were called golf carts. I don’t think anyone compares a UTV to a golf cart anymore.”
With the sport continuing to grow, RJ has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. That competitive itch he encountered now stems from a very exhilarating notion that continues to influence him more than ever before.
RJ: “The adrenaline is what fuels me and what I live for. The adrenaline, the battle, the preparation, the sponsorship, the marketing… It takes so much to go racing, it’s not as easy as to slap stickers onto your car, and go send it. There’s learning from your mistakes, trying to beat the best in the world, trying to develop sponsors, and striving to continuously deliver results for them. It takes so many moving pieces. It’s definitely not a one-person sport. I think that’s what I like most about it—it’s an ever-changing machine. It’s not something that just is super stale or repetitive all the time. You can be the best one day and the next you’re last. It’s a humbling sport.
Racing can be super tough at times, and you have to remember to get away from it every now and then. I love getting out with family and friends, that’s kind of what kept me interested in off-road is the atmosphere. Even when I’m not racing, I’m normally hanging out with people who are in the off-road industry, going to the river, hanging out with family and friends, and going on the boat out at the lake. That’s kind of what I like to do to get away and just kind of let go of it all.
Heading toward 2021, I’m looking forward to getting back to normal with racing. 2020 has been a crazy year with an even crazier schedule. Things haven’t been quite so normal this year, so I’m looking forward to seeing fans and that whole atmosphere. I feed off that, and what makes it fun for me.”