"Yeah, that's the tricky part" Michael Swift of Team UXC Racing explained when asked about passing a competitor on a 9 to 12 mile wooded off-road race course barely wide one enough for one ATV.
"Michael Swift attacks the trail on his Polaris UTV with Kevin Trantham close on his heels"
What's no trick, though, is the rise to prominence of the Polaris-mounted Team UXC Racing to the top rungs of the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series. We asked Michael how he's managed to generate such dominating performances with a relatively new team, which we'll share with you in a moment, but first a little background on Michael and the team.
In 2004 he ran a few events on his own stock 4x4 and was hooked. For 2005, Michael partnered with his brother-in-law Chris Beasley and ran the entire series. His talent and dedication were rewarded with his first factory ride in 2006, and he's been a factory rider every year since. Chris retired in 2012 and Michael was on his own.
While having ridden for other manufacturers in those intervening years, Michael refers to switching to Polaris in 2014 as a "game changer for me and our team." Michael was the only rider in the field on a Polaris, and Polaris had no previous experience, Michael still pulled down a win and finished fourth in the Pro 4x4 Championship.
"Michael Swift #202 and Kevin Trantham #209 celebrate a 1-2 win after the Wild Boar GNCC Race"
More than anything, Michael learned from his 2014 experiences what he needed to do for 2015. He brought over Kevin Trantham, who'd finished second in 2014 for another team. In Kevin he found a teammate who was a true partner, someone dedicated to the same goals as Michael. "The Friday before the race Kevin and I walk the entire track and discuss how to drive it," Michael said. Further, Michael says there's a constant flow of information between Kevin and himself about how to set up their Polaris 4x4s.
The result was a dominating performance for Team UXC Racing and Polaris, which two years earlier wasn't even involved in the sport. Polaris won 10 out of 13 events, giving them the manufacturer's championship, though neither rider won their championship due to splitting wins. Michael was philosophical about the situation. "When you're a team you have to understand your goal is deliver a championship."
For 2016, Team UXC has grown considerably. Michael Swift and Kevin Trantham have returned to the GNCC's Pro 4×4 class and have showcased the Polaris Scrambler XP 1000's full capabilities with two wins. The pair will also be piloting a new Polaris 1000S Razor in the Pro UTV class.
Kevin Trantham gets the win at the Cannonball GNCC race
In addition, Graham Widdicombe from the United Kingdom will return to the team with an all-new Polaris Scrambler 850 in the GNCC 4×4 40+ class, Nic Snyckers from Toronto will also pilot a Scrambler 850 EPS in the GNCC 4×4 C Class. Plus the newest addition to the UXC team is Jeff Wright from Phoenix, who will compete at 13 GNCC rounds this season in the 4×4 A/B class. A pair of Polaris ACE 900 SPs will be piloted by Tory Rush of Gillette, WY, and Becky Widdicombe from the UK.
Now, Michael Swift's secrets to his success, going from a one rider team on a 4x4 no one was racing, to wining the championship for Polaris, to expanding his operation to five riders AND winning the first two races of the season. Here goes:
- "Having a good team and I just don't mean just at the races, but family and friends at home. It's so important for them to support what we're doing (BTW, after tucking in duties, Michael goes out to the shop and works every night until midnight or 1 am – that's dedication).
- "Constant experience on just a 4x4. Some guys jump around from a bike to a 4x4 and back but I think my focus has helped me a lot."
- "Teamwork. Kevin and I are always sharing information, testing new parts and set-ups."
- "Having a personal trainer who is a racer. I use Marc Pataro of MotoPro Training in MD and I do his fitness program every day."
- "We don't take sponsorship from just any company or have companies bid for sponsorships. We decide on what parts we want and if we can't get the parts through sponsorship then we buy then. We don't want any second-rate components on our 4x4s."
"I am excited about our team's 2016 season as we have worked hard the past two years developing our Polaris Scramblers and spent this past off season testing and training to fine tune our products and riding," said Michael. "I want to thank K&N Filters and all our sponsors for the great products they provide and the amazing support."
Not only do we expect to see Michael and Kevin at the front of the field for many years to come, Michael's 11 year old son is currently racing in a youth class and will no doubt be moving up to race with his father in just a few years time.