Like many with a serious passion for competitive off-road motorsports, Monster Energy’s UTV racer Phil Blurton burns the candle at all three ends. Racer. Builder. Father. Just so happens that Blurton, since 2017, has been more successful at it than anyone else.
Count ‘em – four (4) Best in the Desert UTV World Championship trophies, including three consecutive championships from 2017-’19. Another four (4) BITD Vegas to Reno Championships. Numerous other wins across the west coast off-road spectrum, including victories in Parker and Laughlin, Nevada. And for an exclamation point, add last year’s prestigious SCORE Baja 1000 title (Pro UTV Forced Injection).
Blurton showed so much promise in his Rookie of the Year performance in BITD’s 2017 season that UTV factory giant Can-Am signed him to their program.
Beyond that racing, for every hour Blurton spends in the seat railing through the desert, he spends hundreds of hours in his shop – No Limit Race Development in Loomis, Calif. There the term ‘Man & Machine’ comes to life, with Blurton quite literally creating the M-claw shod off-road Frankenstein Monsters that have wreaked havoc on the West Coast off-road scene the past six years.
Blurton’s busy and considering his modifications to stock UTVs can run upwards of six figures, his time is extremely valuable. But we were able to score the keys to the candy store and teed up some questions on what makes this dude so fast in a UTV.
Who is Phil Blurton
Phil, hey, you’re off to a great start this season, especially on the Best In The Desert series tour. Back-to-back BITD wins at the Parker 250 and UTV Legends Championship in Laughlin, Nev. Talk about 2022 so far.
It’s been good. Started off at King of the Hammers with a 4th in the desert race. Haven’t won that one yet. … It’s haunted me. Started Best In The Desert qualifying 4th at Parker (Nevada), led at Mile 20 and won it from there. Laughlin (Nevada) was similar, checked out and led, got closer at the end – until the guy I was battling got a flat and I ended up winning by six minutes.
Next up was another Nevada race – the Silver State 300 (BITD). And that didn’t go quite as planned, right?
Silver State started by points, so I started 1st there. The racing was tight the first couple of pits. We had an eight-minute lead, then had our big crash. Caught up to a rookie spec class racer, and when we were pushing to pass, he decided to stop in the middle of the race course. We (Phil & co-drive Beau Judge) hit him at 59 miles per hour and stopped in six feet. Both of us were OK, nothing broke, just real sore… super sore neck. I bit my tongue, so I kind of talk funny now. … Worst part was it was, literally, a brand new race car, finished it only a few days before the event. So I took about a quarter million dollar hit there. I can save some parts for a practice car – but that’s about it.”
Let’s rewind a bit here, talk about how you got involved in competition off-road events. Glancing at your company’s (No Limit Race Development) website, safe to say your dad had a pretty big influence on you.
We were living in SoCal, Orange County, and my dad (Philip Blurton Sr.) moved us up to NorCal and he pretty much stopped racing off-road. My dad got me into dirt bike racing. I raced amateurs until I was 15, and at that point my dad was trying to get me into cars. But that didn’t really seem cool at that age, so I got into a fabricating class in high school and built my first rock crawler out of a pickup truck. Then I turned to building Pro Mod buggies. Started competing a bit in the Cal Rock Series, the moved into the 44 class – Ultra4 racing, King of the Hammers stuff. I ended up building two of those. By the time I was 21 I had my own fab shop, started building some (UTV) cages, the started racing BITD. I won the UTV World Championships in my second pro race (2017). Nobody had any idea who I was. A week later I signed a deal with Can-Am.
So you grew up in NorCal, and ended up staying there – despite SoCal being the hub of off-road industry fabrication scene?
The advantage we have (in NorCal) is that SoCal’s flooded with builders. So up here our name got out quickly on the racing scene – and we (No Limit RD) had a lot of business. The local off-road scene is good in NorCal. We’ve got a race series out of Prairie City (Home of the MX Nationals’ “Hangtown” round), we’ve got the VORRA Series, which I won, and I won the NorCal Side-By-Side Series in 2015.
It was around this time, when you were growing your business, when you ended up meeting your now longtime co-driver – Beau Judge.
Yeah, I was dropping of some roll cages to get powder coated, met Beau, who worked there, and got to talking about racing. I asked him if he wanted to come race sometime. He said ‘Yeah,’ and now we’ve been best friends and have raced together ever since.
You’d mentioned Prairie City. Ever make it over to Hangtown for the dirt bike races?
Yeah, I actually got some motocross racing lessons there from Tallon Vohland (former NorCal factory racer, pro wins in both AMA MX and SX). He was always the fast guy at the local track and, when I was coming up, my dad hit up Tallon and I ended up getting private lessons from him.
We’d always hit Hangtown and Washougal (MX), raced the amateur day at both those tracks a number of times. Then I ended up getting into 50s (mini bikes) during that craze back in the late 1990s, and early 2000s. I worked for Fast50s for a while before focusing on off-road fabrication and racing.
Are you able to harken back to your motocross days and those skills to assist in your UTV racing?
I think there is an advantage for sure, having a background in motocross that helps you learn the lines and read the terrain. Also, dirt bikes definitely help with your fear level. And on a bike you have no gauges, so you really learn RPMs and how the bike is running by sound and feel. And that knowledge helps when you’re racing UTVs as well.