Racer Tech and UTV Scene.com use Polaris Viral Video Contest to build a race-worthy ACE like no other
On January 18th Grand National Cross Country, GNCC, WXC front-runner Jesi Stracham was in a motorcycle accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Over the last few months she has battled through unimaginable physical and mental barricades. At the young age of 22 she began a new life without the use of her legs.
Jesi and her family have followed her passion for GNCC ATV racing since she was six years old, for them, GNCC racing was a major part of their lives. The family even relocated from Canton, Ohio to warmer Mooresville, NC so she could get year-round riding time. As you can imagine, the possibility of giving up her life's passion was not something she or her family could accept.
Polaris, the busiest All-Terrain-Vehicle manufacturer in the industry, now offers more ATV and UTV (Ultimate-Terrain-Vehicle) models than any manufacturer ever! One of which is an off-road vehicle like no other- the Polaris ACE 570 is an ATV with a roll cage that you drive rather than ride. It's an all-new never-seen-before vehicle that allows a driver to go anywhere an ATV rider can. Not settling to advertise their new drive-able ATV as a recreational vehicle just for trail riding, Polaris has convinced the decision-makers behind the GNCC Series to add a single-seater class, thus putting their ACE in a whole new light!
The marketing team at Polaris didn't stop here. Their affordable, less-daunting, extremely-encouraging go-anywhere 4-wheel-drive ACE appeals to a wider demographic than any other off-road vehicle before! With this, Polaris has invited 11 members of the ATV/UTV media to go head-to-head in a Viral Video Challenge that's sure to showcase just how unique and capable their ACE is to potential buyers that might not have even heard about the new vehicle. The 11 media publications chosen for the Viral Video Challenge have been loaned a 2015 Polaris ACE 570 loaner and simply asked, what can the Polaris ACE do? The video with the most Likes on November 2 gets to keep the vehicle.
John Pellan of UTV Scene.com, one of the 11 chosen members of the media, is taking full advantage of this contest. “I think God was working through me while I was reading the invitation to this thing, because I instantly thought this is what Jesi needs in her life right now, and knowing Jesi, I knew she could use this opportunity to inspire others. She has always been all about doing something meaningful with her life, this could be it,” said Pellan of his decision to lend his loaner ACE to Jesi so she could get back to her passion and possibly inspire others in similar situations to do the same. Pellan added, “It just made such perfect sense. A brand new vehicle that you don't need your legs to ride just lands on my lap, meanwhile at the same time the GNCC announces a class for the machine, and Polaris asks me to create a video that answers their question of what can the ACE do, – man o man, I think it can change lives – that's what it can do! And of course, if our video wins the contest we will give the machine to Jesi so she can continue to follow her dreams and inspire others to follow theirs.”
As off-road friendly as the new Polaris ACE is, in stock form it's no match for the severe pounding it will take from the terrain found on a typical GNCC race-course. All GNCC racers need specially-built stronger-than-stock aftermarket components to handle these conditions and the new ACE is definitely no exception to this. “Jesi is a die-hard racer with a desire that I've only seen in some of the top-named champions in this sport. She doesn't race just to be in the race; when she slides a helmet over her head she is determined to win,” concluded Pellan.
Pellan knows Jesi isn't the ordinary racer. While she is capable of winning, the stock loaner isn't as competitive as the other entries, thus undermining the incredible impact and inspiration that she could provide others with this bigger-than-the-sport-opportunity.
“Besides the fire inside her to win any race she lines up for, Jesi's personality is incredible,” says Pellan. “She is one of the most outgoing, positive-minded and motivated persons I've ever met. And now, even after being paralyzed, her optimism to do something meaningful with the cards she has been dealt is like something I've never seen.” Pellan adds, “Seeing her complete a lap or two then pull to the side with a broken machine would be such a downer, – she really deserves to have a competitive vehicle under her.”
Pellan wants Jesi's #820 Polaris ACE to pull to the line with the strongest aftermarket parts possible– nothing compromised, and since the ACE is so new and has seen so few races, the help needed for this project had to come from the most innovative fabricator in the UTV scene. “I wanted Andy Prins of Racer Tech, and I'm thrilled that I got him!” recalls Pellan. “That guy and his staff has impressed me like no company I've seen in this industry. In my opinion, Racer Tech is the GoPro of the UTV industry. Everyone at Racer Tech is a racing enthusiast determined to constantly offer the strongest and most accomplished products in the UTV industry. They also have an unprecedented passion for innovation– and this thing needs and deserves this kind of initiative like no other project-build that I've ever been a part of.”
“Everyone here at Racer Tech is extremely excited about this project. Not only is it a great cause, but I think it fits the potential of the ACE to a T,” says Andy Prins of Racer Tech. “And we're going all-in on this. I want to make this thing seriously competitive! Jesi's ACE will have some of the trick-est things we've ever put into a race vehicle. We have also vastly improved the strength and geometry of the McPherson front suspension system to better handle the rough GNCC terrain.” When asked why he has put everything aside for this project Prins answered, “If it moves you like it has us, you know it's a meaningful project that deserves our full attention. This is an inspirational project on many levels. Besides allowing Jesi to get back to her passion for GNCC racing, I think it enables us to greatly improve the ACE and offer a conversion kit that can give a disabled person a whole new thirst for life.”
Jesi's GNCC racing comeback is already in motion. While Racer Tech spent the week fabricating hand controls, complete with a twist throttle and front and rear brake levers, Jesi made her first GNCC appearance since her accident. “I went to the Big Buck GNCC in South Carolina. I got to check out the ACE class and I'm even more pumped now,” said Jesi. I already know I'm going to love it. This is the exact thing that I need in my life right now. This is so huge for me I can't even explain it!”
In an effort to make Jesi's loaner as competitive as possible, Racer Tech is joined by a few key companies and people in the industry, including 5-time GNCC UTV XC1 Champion, William Yokley, Polaris, GBC Motorsports, OMF Performance Products, Elka Suspension, Motion Pro, Trinity Racing, K&N, Tire Blocks, Loud Performance Products, Pro Graph-X, Keffer Mazda and Gate Drop Media – all focused on making UTV Scene's loaner for Jesi as competitive as possible. And all have also vowed to help make UTV Scene's upcoming YouTube video of Jesi's story get the most Likes possible so Jesi can keep the loaner and continue to race future GNCC events.
Jesi will be competing in two upcoming rounds of the GNCC Series, the Mountaineer Run GNCC in Masontown, WV on May 23 and the John Penton GNCC in Millfield, OH on June 6. Jesi's GNCC Racing Comeback Feature Video will be posted on YouTube on June 15th.
You can help the success of this project enormously by sharing and Liking UTV Scene's video when it's released on June 15th. In the meantime, if you've got a few extra dollars and want to help Jesi with the many cost associated with this project and beyond, by all means click to her GoFundMe page and make a contribution at Jesi's Medical Expenses by Amy Stevens McConnell - GoFundMe
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