Amanda Darnell Reveals Her New-Found Passion
Story & Photos Provided By: Amanda Darnell
Have you ever been committed to doing something, and when the time finally came to make it happen, you go an entirely different route on a whim? It’s an incredibly bold move, and it’s sometimes fortunate, sometimes not so fortunate, as some of us may have learned. For Amanda Darnell of Vancouver, WA, it was the start of a wildly entertaining adventure. Darnell’s story begins back in July of 2018, as she entered a local dealership to purchase a new snowmobile—at least that was her original intention. Read on as Amanda shares how an impulse buy would quickly reveal a passion for off-road that she didn’t know she had.
Amanda: “Back when I was competing in freestyle skiing/skiing on a daily basis, a sled was always the dream since it gave you access to so much more terrain. Having friends with sleds, I had several opportunities to go out and ride. I loved the adrenaline and the places a sled could take me, but at the same time, it took me a little while to decide if I wanted one due to it being a seasonal hobby with always running the risk of unpredictable snow seasons here in the Northwest.
I went to the local dealer to purchase a new snowmobile, and while I was there, a salesman asked me if I had ever considered a RZR. After looking, I shortly left with a 2018 RZR XP Turbo. The biggest factor that made me pull the trigger on the RZR was I could use it year-round as opposed to restricted seasons contingent on weather and the versatility when it came to different kinds of terrain (sand, mud, dirt, snow, rock). When laying it all out, it became a no brainer. I would still love to get a sled in the future, but I am glad I went the UTV route first!
That first RZR is what got me started in the off-road scene completely which when I made my first purchase, I was completely blind as I never had driven any SXS—it was the best risk I ever took. I got to experience all types of riding here in the Northwest, which initially was a lot of trail riding and getting to experience riding on the Oregon Dunes.
A year after my first purchase, I decided to step it up to a 2019 RZR Turbo S Dynamix. As time went on, short course UTV racing really started to appeal to me and gave me the itch to start short course racing locally, so in May, I made the switch to a 2020 Can-Am Maverick X3 X RS Turbo RR which now is undergoing a full race build. I have not competed in any races yet, but will start racing this August in the Rampage Sprint SXS Series held at Horn Rapids MX in Horn Rapids, WA. I also have plans to race the Washougal Grassroots Series held at Washougal Motocross Park in Washougal, WA, and also compete in a couple of WORCS races.
I have always had a competitive nature my whole life, and I love that riding has created the path and vision of jumping into short course UTV racing. On top of that, I love that it has become a lifestyle between traveling to new places to go ride, the people I’ve met along the way, and constantly learning with every experience.
As my skills and knowledge grew in off-road, I wanted to experience different types of terrain which influenced what machine I had and how I built it. For instance, my first RZR Turbo was built for trails/rock crawling and my Dynamix was built for dunes. Recently, I really started to research/reevaluate what is available on the market. On top of that, although I loved my Dynamix, a big part of me wanted to just try something completely different for myself. After learning more about the Can-Am, I took the leap of faith and took one home a couple of months ago with every intention of it being my new race UTV. With the short window of time I had before undergoing the race build, I spent as much time as I could behind the wheel. I had the opportunity to go to the Oregon Dunes and squeeze in a couple of track days. I have been nothing but impressed and looking forward to kicking off my racing career in my X3.
Off-road really engulfed my life in a way that led me to meet great people, revealed my love behind the wheel, and the idea of getting started in racing UTVs, as well as keeps me motivated and challenged with always learning something new. A short term goal I have is to advance my racing career and to be racing the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. My long term goals revolve around setting myself to start getting into desert racing/BITD series.
I currently live on the west coast so the most common/favorite place of mine to go ride is the Oregon Dunes (Coos Bay Dunes and Winchester Bay Dunes). With having my riding primarily on the west coast, I would love to go experience desert riding in Nevada and California for a change of scenery.”
Follow Amanda @a.darnell_ to see where her new-found passion will take her next.