Interview: Chris Forsberg and Dylan Hughes Take on the NORRA 500

Chris Forsberg and Dylan Hughes

by Michael Satterfield | Photos by Kinnon Marshall 09/28/2021 

Professional Formula Drift drivers Chris Forsberg and Dylan Hughes make sliding sideways on the pavement look easy, but this October the pair will be taking on a new motorsports adventure, the NORRA 500. One of Baja's most storied and challenging off-road races. The pair will be piloting the Slime Polaris Side-by-Side RZR UTV, which they extensively modified to take on the toughest trails in Baja. 

The RZR build is currently featured in a multi-part web series hosted by Chris and Dylan where they take the stock Polaris RZR and make it tough enough for Baja. 

  Upgrades to the RZR UTV include: 

  • Heavier shocks 
  • Stronger axles 
  • Narrow custom wheels 
  • Off-road competition tires 
  • Stronger engine mounts 
  • Competition fuel cell 
  • Rear bash bar 
  • Upgraded seats 
  • Stronger roll cage 
  • Navigation system 
  • Lighting 
  •  Radio system 

I had a chance to sit down with Chris and Dylan to ask some questions about their first major foray into the world of desert off-road racing.

Chris Forsberg and Dylan Hughes who are taking their drifting skills and applying them to off-road racing

TGR: Before working with Slime on this project, have Chris and Dylan had any experience in off-road racing?

Chris: I have a little off-road racing experience from a few years ago with one of our sponsors.  Ryan Tuerck and I did the Baja 1000 in a full-size truck, not a trophy truck though.  We made it 99 miles, then we broke.  Definitely gave me a good understanding of how hard it is to do a race like that.  We didn’t go very far, but you realize how much of a beating your equipment takes and that being prepared is a HUGE part of the game in Baja.  It goes without saying, but it definitely hit home when the music stopped playing for us that year and we were done.

 Dylan: My experience in off-road racing is pretty much all dirt bikes.  But, I did work as an instructor at the Dirtfish Rally School in Washington.  It’s a different type of off-road doing rally in the woods, vs off-road in the desert.  The cars are different too, but I think a lot of that will really help me when it comes to racing this UTV in Baja.

TGR:  I saw that they did some testing out at Pismo Beach, how much of your drifting experience comes into play when driving a UTV on loose surfaces? 

Chris: I think drifting experience comes in handy for most driving we do outside of drifting, to be honest.  Pismo was a blast, hitting jumps in the sand and getting a feel for the way all the mods respond.  I’ve driven this UTV a fair bit in the desert recreationally, which is amazing.  Really unreal what these things can do essentially stock.  Then to be able to add the parts we did and know we can compete in a race in Baja, I mean, it’s crazy!

Dylan: Here’s what I learned in Pismo - jumping this UTV is AWESOME!  There’s going to be a learning curve for me in Baja, I know there is.  Drifting and being comfortable in a car like that will certainly help in the desert, but it’s a whole new animal down there.  In the sand, at Pismo, it was all pretty much the same terrain.  In Baja we will have narrow roads, dirt, maybe some pavement, some jumps.  I don’t even know, I just know I’m excited about it whatever this race throws us.  Except if we break down, then I won’t be that excited.  haha.

Chris Forsberg and Dylan Hughes who are taking their drifting skills and applying them to off-road racing

TGR: Is running a sealant like Slime legal under NORRA rules? 

Chris: Yes.  From what I understand just about everybody runs Slime in Baja.  Flats are your biggest enemy, so anything you can do to minimize that occurrence is 100% welcomed. 

Dylan: What Chris said.  We will be all Slimed up.

TGR: Is the team running a standard Slime 2-in-1 product or is there a special blend for the race? 

Chris: It is the standard Slime 2-in-1.

TGR: NORRA doesn’t allow Pre-Running so what else have you been doing to prepare? 

Chris: There’s really not a ton we can do.  We have a test we’re trying to do in the desert local to us here for a day, but I think the UTV is pretty much prepped as best it can be.  We’ve been trying to stockpile the right spares and get our ducks in a row that way more than anything.  This race is going to be a learning experience no matter what.  We’ve got a pretty good mentor of sorts in Justin Lambert at Cognito Motorsports that is has won the Baja 1000 in a UTV.  He’s been great about giving us advice and helping us be prepared.  But I think it’s one of those things where you have to dive into it, do it, and be a sponge while it happens.” 

Dylan: Agree with Chris.  The dunes were nice to mess around in and the test will be a great time to get a feel for what this RZR is like on dirt, but until you strap in and go for it, it’s tough.  Pre-running would be awesome, I am totally down for that and I wish it was possible.  Chris said he had a blast doing that when he ran Baja, sounds like maybe more fun than when he raced.  (Laughs)"

Chris Forsberg and Dylan Hughes who are taking their drifting skills and applying them to off-road racing

TGR: Are you running in the modified UTV class? 

Chris: We would be in the Stock Turbo class.  Our mods are within the rules there, but we aren’t doing anything to the engine.

TGR: I have driven Baja Challenge Cars and Trophy Lite Trucks and know it’s addicting, now that you have gotten a taste of off-road racing do you think it will be something you’ll keep doing? 

Chris: I’d love to.  Ever since the last time I was in Baja I’ve wanted to come back with a better situation and I think this is it.  We’re here in So Cal, the hotbed of off-road and I have a lot of friends that are in it.  It’s definitely something I’d like to do more often.” 

Dylan: Don’t threaten me with a good time!  I’m in for sure for off-road - ANYTHING.  Really looking forward to doing this race with Slime and having fun.  If this turned into more off-road racing I would love it.  I know I’m going to like it, I have too many friends like Chris was saying that are into it or do it as another form of competitive racing to know it’s an addicting thing.  We’ll see, but I would bet this won’t be the last off-road race I do!