Tough to get to the top on your own… which you discovered early in your off-road career, moving from dirt bikes to UTVs. Talk about your relationship with Can-Am and the team you’ve surrounded yourself with to race SCORE and Best In The Desert (BITD), including your co-driver (and son) Zach Burroughs.
(Laughter) My motorcycle racing career was way, way easier. We’d go to the races, and it’d be myself, along with one or two pit guys. That was it. To do the full prep on a motorcycle, what, half a day or a day’s work? Never a time constraint point of view working on the bike. Racing for the factory Husqvarna team, we, of course, got factory parts. But what I did learn from racing motorcycles was the logistics of long-distance racing. From the pits to racing. That said, transitioning from a bike to the car from just a prep point of view was pretty overwhelming. Such an enormous learning curve, bike to car. I just dug in and certainly made some mistakes along the way. But I would meet knowledgeable people and bring them into the (UTV) program. Then we’d find out they’d have a friend who handled suspension or motor work pretty well, and we’d bring them in as well. So the team was the sum of the parts, but were always cautious of who we surrounded ourselves with. I think now we’ve got it figured out. I told my oldest son, Zach, we’re not letting you race until you graduate college. As soon as he graduated, he became my co-driver. And that’s been a fantastic opportunity, and such a rewarding experience. I’ve also split a lot of the longer race driving duties with Bradley Howe. He’s been my main second driver for some time.
While we’re on the subject, explain further how rewarding is that to have your son involved with your passion for off-road. You’d enjoyed a great deal of parental support when you first started playing around in the desert on a Taco mini bike – at the tender age of four. Zach looks to be taking to the sport in a way you’d have hoped, and he’s now – literally – racing in the seat next to you.
I think it’s great. I have been very fortunate with co-drivers. Dan Lewis was my first co-driver for many years while Zach was in high school and college. He was a big part of our early success. Zach stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. He’s a really good co-driver. He and I work really well together. This is our third season together, and we just have a very good flow in the car. Him giving me the directions and the turns has worked very well – and that’s not always the case with a co-driver. But Zach and I are always on the same page in the car. I am 100-percent confident with him in the car. In addition to Zach, my other kids (Isabella, Sadie, and Hunter), and my wife (Celeste) allow all of this to happen. There is zero possibility I could be racing at this level without the support I have at home. Celeste is the greatest race wife I could ever ask for. Without her support, it’s not happening.
Flashback to the days when you were running off-road races with the Factory Husqvarna program. Who were some of the big name guys you were chasing, and what was your most memorable race of that era?
I was a factory rider, but the guys ahead of me were in a different league. I wasn’t at the Larry Roeseler, Danny Hamel, Ty Davis level. I was riding in the pro class, and I competed in the same races, but those guys didn’t see me as a competitor. As for my motorcycle race highlight, that’d be the time we won the Best In The Desert Laughlin (Nevada) World Championship Hare Scrambles Championship in the 125cc class. That was a pretty cool win.
We’d mentioned BITD briefly. You had some solid finishes in the Pro UTV Turbo class this summer, winding up in 7th place overall. According to the stat sheet it looked like you didn’t run the final two events to which, if you averaged your finishes in the four previous races, the 99.75 points would have put you in 2nd place overall. That’s pretty solid as well. Talk about your 2022 BITD season.
I had to make a decision as the season progressed about racing both series, SCORE and Best In The Desert. And we were sitting in 4th place in both series after Baja 400. Best In The Desert moved the Laughlin race to mid-October, and then that put pressure on our SCORE schedule. It would have been a real strain on the team to race both series at that point, feeling like if we would have tried to do both, we wouldn’t have put in our best effort for the 1000. We discussed this with Can-Am and Monster, offered to do both, and both companies said ‘Go win the SCORE championship.’ But overall it was a tough decision. Baja is such an unbelievable undertaking. And I’m confident we wouldn’t have been able to give our best effort for the 1000 with just one week of prep time after the last Best In The Desert round.