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Kristen Matlock

Photos by Boyd Jaynes

I’ll be honest. Normally as racers, we are asked questions and not asked to actually write down our feelings or thoughts on things outside of the sport.

It’s kind of hard, but also kind of therapeutic in a way as well.

Our family has gone from a full-speed life of racing, running our cabinet business, and part-time homeschooling to a different place, just like everybody else. As a mom, of course, it’s all about the kids (we have two sons), but in that way, we are blessed. In order to race, we have already homeschooled our boys two days a week thanks to a program we have through a good private Christian school near us. It allows us to extend our weekends in a creative way and gives us all more flexibility. It is also really important in how we make our racing lifestyle work.

But like parents everywhere, however, two days of homeschooling is not five. This change has not been that big of a deal for me, but it took the kids and I some time getting used to it all. Everyone is having to adapt in different ways. We found that sticking with a daily schedule keeps us all focused. The boys are learning a great lesson of the harder you work, the faster the reward is delivered. For them, the reward is playtime.

They say that life is what you make it and engineering our life to suit what we do is working. It’s always been a blessing; maybe more so now. The racing came before the kids in terms of the timing in our lives, but we didn’t want to leave the kids behind during the events because we were away competing so often. It worked for us before this pandemic, but it’s turned out our lifestyle overall can handle these changes easier than if we were working normal jobs and having our kids in a traditional school setting.

"It sounds cliché, but Polaris loves the family aspect we bring to the table. They really do. We aren’t racing for racing’s sake, but we are living the Polaris lifestyle to the fullest."

One of the things that always nags at me a bit is just how selfish this off-road racing thing can be. As a new mom, guilt was part of those feelings for me early on. But, a friend of mine pointed out that being outdoors, having adventures and even competing has kept so many off-road families together. Now our boys are getting into racing too. If they chose soccer, well, I would be a soccer mom. Luckily for me, they haven’t chosen that path. They are actually excited about racing and want to follow in that path Wayne and I have made as a bit of an ongoing legacy. How cool is that?

Not to sound overly corporate here, but that is one of the real reasons why I love being part of the Polaris RZR racing team. They offer a small UTV called a Polaris RZR 170 which is a perfect learning tool for young drivers, and now our oldest has already progressed to a faster and larger Polaris RZR RS-1 single-seater. Our 8-year-old still is in a 170. We couldn’t make that progression with any other company, and it’s also a reason that they are such a part of our racing.

It sounds cliché, but Polaris loves the family aspect we bring to the table. They really do. We aren’t racing for racing’s sake, but we are living the Polaris lifestyle to the fullest. In case you haven’t heard it, they have a new advertising motto that says “Polaris: Think Outside.” It doesn’t really matter if you are racing a RZR or hunting in a Ranger, those two simple words encapsulate the freedom that makes being outdoors such an important part of our lives.

Another thing that sponsors really like is the fact that I am a female racer, and that helps us from a marketing standpoint. Wayne is a successful racer, but he always says without me he would be “just another guy winning races.” Yet when you combine it all as a whole, we are very marketable. Now the kids are part of that recipe too.

"Like so many things in a great partnership, it’s all about respect. Yep, he is my husband, but he is my best friend first. None of us will be left behind."

Here’s a bit of a secret I want to share about the off-road culture. Yes, I am a female, but I have always been accepted as a member of that culture without prejudice that other forms of motorsports have experienced. All the guys have treated me like one of them. There is still a bit of old fashion protection and chivalry that is alive and well in almost all off-roaders and racers. I am not a chick racer, just a racer.

And if they don’t believe me, I can prove them wrong. There is nothing better than that.

We all have egos, but it’s an interesting dynamic being married to another racer. We have done better than most would think, or even I would have thought. Remember, this was Wayne’s thing first. He will be the first to admit that it was a struggle for him because I am female and was getting more attention in some situations.

What has kept our relationship strong is our decision to market ourselves as a package. There have been situations where one of us was invited to an event and not the other, but we politely declined. We are Matlock Racing as a whole. Besides, who wants to leave their best friend behind? Like so many things in a great partnership, it’s all about respect. Yep, he is my husband, but he is my best friend first. None of us will be left behind.

Some of that thinking comes from our faith. We are Christians. I keep telling everyone around us right now that God has a plan. Sometimes it’s hard to understand what that is, but patience will make things right. We all have to wait things out. That sounds strong, but I also have to remind myself of that often as well. It’s what I tell my family and Wayne’s family about racing. God has a plan, and when it’s your time it’s your time. I would much rather be enjoying my passion and go out that way than to sit at home wishing I had taken an opportunity that I had passed on.

What people don’t know about me is that I have a degree in nursing. I went to school for it as for a long time I wanted to be an R.N. or a flight nurse. I did become an R.N., but I decided it wasn’t for me because I met this racer guy. So, the nursing thing didn’t work out. I became an aesthetician instead and still see my favorite clients once a month.

The one thing that everybody asks about is the key to our success. Just the other day I was speaking with Wayne about the fact that all we have worked for our whole lives have been achieved. I can’t talk about it yet, but there is one more race we both want to do, and we may get that chance. We are a factory-supported team thanks to being part of the Polaris RZR family. We have great new partnerships with Yokohama and Method Wheel. And, the best part about that is we have a way to share our experience with others and help them reach their goals in life. People should never be afraid of mentorship just to protect themselves. I don’t think it works that way.

"The only thing I can about that is the word 'no' doesn't mean no. It just means try harder".

To win the race for success you need to be the whole package. It’s not just about winning races anymore, but it has spread like an umbrella to include so many other things. And, you need to be different. We are a family. That is our authentic self. That’s what works for us.

That and the fact I can touch my nose with my tongue. People seem to like that.

The bottom line is that the most gratifying wins are the “yesses” that come after the rejections. The only thing I can say about that is the word “no” doesn’t mean no. It just means try harder.

For now, our Polaris RZRs are ready. Our support trucks and team are ready. We just need the chance to go prove ourselves all over again. Just like the Matlocks have always done.

See you on the other side,

 

Kristen Matlock
Polaris RZR Factory Racer

Backstory Behind The Polaris Chronicles.

Today’s locked-up environment runs completely counterculture to the wide-open freedom of the off-road lifestyle. This is especially true for top-level racers who find themselves suddenly focusing on altered personal lives and sponsorship retainment instead of event preparation and enhancing performance. Just for now, like all of us, their world is a quieter and decidedly more reflective place.

Instead of an obligatory interview or Q&A, the management team behind the Polaris RZR factory racing effort asked their top athletes to instead share some of their personal thoughts on this unique time in history, how it has changed their lives and what the rest of 2020 will look like.

The first installment in this new six-part series entitled the “Polaris Chronicles” features SCORE Baja 500 and Baja 1000 UTV champion Kristen Matlock of Alpine, Calif. She drives the #1954 Polaris RZR XP4 in the Pro UTV Naturally Aspirated class.

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