Shortly before departing for Saudi Arabia to contest the 2022 edition of the infamous Dakar Rally, we sat down with Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team members, Seth Quintero and Mitch Guthrie Jr. this Winter to chat about this year’s Dakar effort, their experience last year, what the future holds, why they call Seth the “crowd pleaser,” and which flavor of Red Bull is their favorite.
Tell everyone a little about yourself, like your name, where you’re from and favorite recent racing accomplishment:
Mitch Guthrie Jr:
I am 25-years-old from Glendora, California.
Being a two-time King of the Hammers back-to-back winner is my biggest accomplishment right now.
I’m 19-years-old from San Marcos, California.
My biggest accomplishment? Being the youngest person to ever win a Dakar stage.
What does it mean to you to be a Red Bull Athlete?
Mitch Guthrie Jr: It means a lot. Ever since I was a kid, watching Travis Pastrana is probably the one, just seeing that Red Bull hat, always has like symbolized something so when I was younger I never thought it would be possible really, but to be in this position now is kind of surreal and it’s just really cool to be known. Red Bull is kind of the top of the list for everyone on a sponsor you would wish for, so I’m really happy to be a part of it.
Give us an idea of what the Red Bull Off-Road Jr Program is all about.
Seth Quintero: I think the Red Bull off-road Jr. team is really just trying to get young drivers into rally raid racing and just kind of give them a chance and give them an opportunity to prove their driving and move up through, because obviously with Mitch and I in it and other drivers on the Jr. team we’re not going to be on the Jr. team forever and it’s really just a stepping stone to getting into the bigger cars. There’s never really been a factory team like that to support kids like us.
How did becoming a Red Bull athlete change your existing race program at the time?
Seth Quintero: Becoming a Red Bull athlete definitely changed a lot, but at the same time, I’ve kept my head in it as I always do. This has always been a family run program, and having Red Bull behind me obviously helps with things off the track, like funding and finding opportunities like racing the Dakar Rally and traveling the world. So, yeah, it has definitely changed my whole racing career.
There was such a big announcement made leading into your guys’ first Dakar experience. What was racing Dakar for the first time like with the spotlight on you guys?
Mitch Guthrie Jr: Racing Dakar for the first time was… It wasn’t as nerve-racking as you would think. I think anyone could say, “Oh, you were super nervous.” But to be honest, we weren’t that prepared. We were kind of just thrown into it, and that was sort of a good thing because I went into it not really knowing what to expect – just learned along the way.
There are some things I didn’t know which I probably should have, but overall it was kind of nice being thrown into rally while still learning about it. That’s one of my favorite ways to try new things: to be put into something without enough time to be intimidated by it and figure it out. So, that’s what we did!
That first year at Dakar prep, obviously didn’t get to actually race it, how was that experience? Do you feel that it had an impact on your efforts the following year?
Seth Quintero: Honestly for me, I didn’t really get much prep in general before my first Dakar. I mean I did one rally before Dakar which I obviously had a little more experience than Mitch, but we didn’t really have much, just because it was kind of an awkward time and obviously Mitch and Wade got to go race and I was too young, but yeah going in the following year I had one rally under my belt. I’ve never seen a road book, but like Mitch said it’s just kind of, I like showing up and trying to figure it out on my own and I feel like that kind of made it easier in a sense just ‘cause you kind of do it your own way.
What’s the plan of attack heading into Dakar 2022? Any major changes to the program?
Mitch Guthrie Jr: Plan of attack now is to go in and I think for all of us Dakar has been improved, the rules have changed, so we’re going to be able to go even faster now, we have bigger restrictor and things like that and then I mean for all four of us on the team now we have a good amount of experience for how old we are everything, so I think we’re all a lot more confident now and we think we can win instead of before where it’s maybe get some stage wins and finish the race.
What has it been like for you to race this scramble series this year?
Seth Quintero: The scramble series has been a lot of fun, just being able to come out and relax, and not have to try to hunt for a championship. It’s really just been enjoyable races and all the places that I’ve gone, people have been super cool so it’s been a good time.
So you like racing in the mud?
Racing in the mud? Yes and no. Racing the mud was cool. If it was in the trees it would be a lot more fun, but my helmet and suit got hung up on the wall, they were done.
Did you have to clean your own car?
No, actually. I still haven’t seen that car. That car was in Tennessee…
I’m assuming Glamis has been a big part of your childhood growing up, what are your thoughts on combining your racing career with your life long playground?
Mitch Guthrie Jr: I’ve been coming out here for a long time now, not like my entire life, but with Camp RZR is the big one. I kind of learned Glamis really well and I was able to drive myself around in a RZR, so I’ve loved this place.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to come out here as much because we’re racing so much so the recreational riding doesn’t happen as much as we’d like. So coming out here and like, we race tomorrow but today we’re out having fun, and combining all that together is so cool. I got my dad out here so it’s just a really cool thing ‘cause it’s a little bit of both combined together and it’s just a lot of fun.
Since you’re the OG Little Ripper and all, what’s been one of your favorite memories truly growing up in a RZR?
Seth Quintero: Obviously all of the race wins are awesome and having my family as part of that has been cool, but I think I’ve really just had the most fun being with my family in a place like Ocotillo and here, we used to have a four-seater before, I got super busy, but when we had time to come out and some fun, so definitely have made a lot of cool memories with my family out here.
You have quite a few accomplishments driving SXS, but what’s on your bucket list that you haven’t had a chance to drive?
Mitch Guthrie Jr: Trophy Truck.
Seth Quintero: I have trophy truck, and I have T1’s under my belt. I’ve never really dabbled in the asphalt area, so, obviously, I want to drive an F1 car one day. Or even some WRC rally stuff and hop into one of those Subaru’s.
So I hear there’s a nickname “Crowd Pleaser.” Please explain a little bit:
Seth Quintero: Alright, that’s a little bit of a weird one. That name popped up randomly and somebody made a visor sticker out of it and gave it to me, but it’s like I go to the races and I go to have fun, I’m not very serious and I’m here to make people laugh and smile, so I think that’s just where that came from.
I know you guys are teammates and support each other obviously and normally being in different cars, but what’s it like being in the same team car for the Baja 500?
Seth Quintero: It was cool. I mean obviously with Mitch and I being teammates, I mean we’re both racers, we both want to win at the end of the day, but I’m happy if he wins and I’m sure he’s happy if I win, but yeah being with him in the 500 was cool. I wish we could have done it a little bit differently, but hopefully one of these days we can team up again for maybe the 1000 or another 500 and get a team win together.
Of all the places you’ve raced, what’s your favorite location?
Mitch Guthrie Jr: My favorite race of the year, I’d say always and my favorite place, is Johnson Valley in the rocks, just because it’s so different and you know if I race there all the time I probably wouldn’t like it as much, but going once a year is like a tradition now doing King of the Hammers, I have such a blast.
It’s very apparent that family is a big part of your life and your race program. Any memorable or comical moments having your family with you as a professional racecar driver?
Seth Quintero: My dad got to come to Andalusia with us in Spain and obviously having Air-Dog around has been really fun. But it’s just been cool to get race wins with him and make your family proud and see my dad cry sometimes.
What’s your favorite, go to, flavor of Red Bull?
Mitch Guthrie Jr: I really like the white one: the coconut berry.
Seth Quintero: I’m a big fan of the peach.
You can follow both drivers on Instagram @sethquintero_103 and @mitchguthrie5.