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By: Robert Janis

French Canadian Makes Mark in ATV Racing on Both Sides of U.S.-Canadian Border

French Canadian Richard Pelchat
French Canadian Richard Pelchat

Richard Pelchat
Richard Pelchat

Richard Pelchat Sponsor Poster
Richard Pelchat Sponsor Poster

French Canadian Richard Pelchat has dominated ATV racing in Canada. He has been the Canadian Champion for seven out of eight years (2002-2006. 2008-2009). One could say that his string of victories is because he is familiar with the territory. But Pelchat has traveled to and won big ATV racing events in the U.S., too.

Pelchat has been riding ATVs since the 1990s when he was 8 years-old. Back then he would ride around the family property in St. Romuald, a small town north of Quebec, Canada, where he still lives. He continued gaining experience on an ATV as a recreational rider with friends when he was about 13 years-old. “There are not a lot of trails around where I live, but we made trails for ourselves. We rode our ATVs at sandpits and in each other’s backyards,” Pelchat said.

He took the next logical step and started racing ATVs in 1999. At first, it was just for fun. However, the following year he took it more seriously. By 2001 he completed his first full season competing in provincial racing events and he turned pro in 2002.  “Racing ATVs was always a fascination for me. I went to see motocross and quad races,” he said. “I loved the fact that you could improve your quad; that you could work on it and improve it, and I also loved the competition. I am a very competitive person.”

When he first started racing, he rode a Honda 250R two-stroke. “I was of the old school,” he quipped. “I chose that bike because back in the day it was the only race quad around. Back in the late 1990s basically everyone who was racing quads was doing it on a 250R.”

He now races a Can Am DS450 XMX. He likes the bike because it is “real light” and has “a lot of power.” “You can make the engine powerful and it is fun to ride,” he said. He has customized the machine to make it race ready. He said that he changed the shocks and suspension and has modified the engine. “We did quite a few things, but the stock structure of the bike wasn’t changed,” he said.

He has always been a lone racer in his pro career but that does not mean he hasn’t rode for ATV manufacturers’ teams. Yamaha sponsored him and now Can Am is his major sponsor. He also owns RP Evolution, a company that builds suspension parts for ATVs. His company is recognized as one of his major sponsors. Other companies that sponsor him include Location D’outil Beauport, DWT, Motoworks, Motovan, Xtreme, Hipertech, KYB, Forma, K&N, Powermadd, CVTechAAB, DID, Kutvek, Factory 43, DP Brakes, Goldspeed and Scott USA. “It’s fun working with companies,” he said. “I have developed quite a few long-term relationships with some companies. But, at the same time, there is always pressure to win. The tough part of racing is delivering results year after year.”

Not only does he race for Can Am and previously for Yamaha, he has also offered feedback on products for those companies and all his sponsors.

According to Pelchat, he has participated in more than 150 races in his career so far and has won quite a few in his homeland of Canada. In 2005 he went almost perfect with 48 wins in 50 starts. This year he has been in 13 races, has won 4, and has been on the podium for just about all of them, he said.

His list of races includes the Montreal Supermotocross, the 12- hour Endurance of La Tuque, the AMA, the Canada Cup and more. You can also say that he is fearless. He even raced and won the Grand Prix de Valcourt, an ATV race on ice.

He said that he has quite a few favorite races including the 12- Hour Endurance of La Tuque. Also, although he has had some “bad luck there” he said that the Montreal Supercross was a favorite.  This year he finished second at that race, finally breaking a string of bad luck. He said that it was a toss-up as to his favorite track in the U.S. between Red Bud in Michigan and Unadilla in northern New York.

He credits racing as changing a bad part of his character. “Back when I first started racing I had a tough time controlling my anger,” he said. “When things didn’t go my way, I got pretty angry. Finally, this year I lost a championship because of a malfunction of my ATV, but I didn’t get angry. I remained calm. Since then I have been able to channel my energy away from getting angry and into the competition.”

For Pelchat, the best part of racing is winning. “What I enjoy most is winning,” he said. “If you put in the work and preparation, then you can win.”

The worst part of racing is not meeting his expectations. “When I race, my expectations are high. If I don’t win, then I have to live with the fact that I did not meet my own expectations,” he said.

He sees the grass roots and local events as the future of ATV racing. “I think it could be a mainstream sport if it gets good promotion, but the local races and its grass roots support will be the main part of ATV racing in the future,” he said.

He concluded that he expects to race for a couple more years. “I still enjoy racing quads, but I want to grow my company. I also have a few more business ideas to explore,” he said.

He also noted that his fiancé has been a major supporter. “She’s is there when I need her. She makes sure that the little things that are so essential are done right, and she supports me mentally and in my preparation,” he said.

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