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By: Robert Janis

She Challenges Her Husband

Kristen Matlock
Kristen Matlock

Kristen Matlock got tired watching her husband Wayne have all the fun. For five years she has been the crew pit chief for team Matlock as he competed in Best in the Desert races through the deserts of Nevada and SCORE races through the Baja. Sure, being in a pit crew working a chase race is exciting, she must have thought. It is nothing like taking the course. So she did and she does.

That’s not to say that she is a novice when it comes to ATVs. Kristen Matlock is just the opposite. She has been riding ATVs since she was 16 years old. “I was about 16 years old with a group of my friends at the sand dunes, and one of them let me ride one of their quads. I fell in love with riding instantly,” she said.

So she started on the sand, and she continues to race in the sand. She competes in Best in the Desert events, AMA National Hare and Hound Series in California and Utah, and the AMA District 38 Racing Series in El Centro, California. In fact, in one of her first events as a racer, the 2006 Best in the Desert ATV and UTV AVI 150, she placed second among amateurs and 17th overall with a time of 4:23:06.

Because of her experience riding in Baja a minimum of 250 miles per weekend, it was her concern for keeping hydrated that she concentrated on in preparation for her first race. “I focused on hydrating my body at least a week before the race,” she said. “If you are not hydrated going into a long distance race, like the one I planned to enter, you end up cramping up and can’t race to your full ability.”

Kristen Matlock in the Best in the Desert Event.
Kristen Matlock in the Best in the Desert Event.

She takes on the desert on a Honda TRX450ER quad. She has chosen this machine because it is reliable, fast, and, as is, there is no need to build the motor. However, she did enhance the quad with a series of customizations. She added Roll Design A-arms and +1 steering stem; Elka Suspension shocks with Elka linkage in the front and rear and Elka steering stabilizer; a Lonestar axle; Tag Metals’ bars; IMS desert tank, roll foot pegs, heel guards, bumper and hand guards; Alba pipe; Douglas wheels; Maxxis tires; AC Racing belly pan, custom skid plate; and a Quadtech desert seat. She has also converted the throttle from a thumb to a twist.

As of this writing, she has competed in nine races and has placed first in five of them and second in the remaining four. She noted that she is usually the only female racer competing at District 38 events, but in the other events she does come upon female competition. “I would say that I competed against half a dozen. There really aren’t a lot of females involved in desert racing. There are a lot more in motocross for some reason,” she said.

She truly enjoys racing against the men. “I think it makes me a better racer having to keep their pace since they are so much stronger naturally than women,” she said. “In order to keep up with them, I have to ride smarter versus stronger.”

And how do the men respond when they see her on the track? “I have had nothing but support and respect from the ATV male racers,” she commented. “Every time I win a race all of my competitors shake my hand and tell me how much fun they had racing against me out there that day.” She did admit that on one occasion she had a problem with a male racer. “A male motorcycle racer had a problem with me passing him with my ponytail hanging out the back end of my helmet. He decided that he wasn’t going to let me stay in front of him after I had already caught and passed him. He attempted to keep my pace for a while in hopes of passing me and ended up upside down in the bushes on the side of the racecourse. After the race, he found me to compliment me on what a great racer I am.”

Her prowess in the desert has landed her a handful of prestigious sponsors including Alba Action Sports, Precision Concepts, Elka Suspension, Division Four, and Roll Design.

Kristen Matlock
Kristen Matlock

As with the guys, the best part of racing for Kristen is the adrenaline rush that she gets while at the starting line that continues throughout the entire race. Is there a worst part of racing for her? “There is not a bad part of racing. I love everything about it,” she said. Her favorite race is Vegas to Reno. “It is about 500 miles long and is a true test of your ability, the bike’s ability, and your pit crew’s ability since it is a chase race.”

As for the future of ATV racing in general, women in the sport, and her future, she responded, “I see ATV racing growing larger and larger. Already in the last couple of years I have watched District 38 grow from about 50 entries per race to about 250 entries per race. ATV racing is getting a lot more publicity than it has in the past with District 38 getting their own TV show called Pinnedtv, SCORE Baja 1000 “Dust to Glory,” and ESPN with the WPSA series. I am hoping that with myself getting out there along with the other female racers, we will attract more women to get involved in the sport and female ATV racing will grow as well. I plan to race about 20 races this year, including the Vegas to Reno, and I enjoy every minute of it!”


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