In an ATV world that has become overwhelmingly dominated by high-performance 450s, the gate has finally dropped for a new breed of race machine. It should be no surprise to anyone who's familiar with the tremendous involvement and presence of Yamaha in ATV racing that it is blue's newly released Raptor 250 that's at the eye of this treacherous storm. When we received an invitation from Yamaha to come out to Glen Helen Raceway Park, saddle up on the miniature monster and compete against the best from every ATV publication, we just couldn't resist. The stage was set, and there was only one question left unanswered: Who would step up and be the man to carry the pride of ATV Rider across the finish line? We can all hold our ground on the track, but with the honor and reputation of our name at stake, there was only one obvious choice for this type of competition. Our gladiator would be ace photographer Adam Campbell. With the help of CT Racing and a handful of other great aftermarket companies, he had recently built an immaculate race version of this very machine (ATVR, October '08) and was very familiar with what this little tyke was capable of doing.
As race day approached conditions were perfect for heart-pounding bar-to-bar racing in Southern California. The racers arrived early to take full advantage of the morning practice where they would have an opportunity to size up the competition and get a feel for their Yamaha-prepped, battle-ready Raptor 250s. The sight and atmosphere of this National venue was all too familiar to Campbell in view of the fact that he has been racing this track since he was a young boy still wetting the bed. Nonetheless, Campbell knew the competition within the industry would be extremely fierce. Competing publications on the track together is a scary thought, and the fact that we're all friends only ups the ante. After he pounded a few early morning laps Campbell's confidence was high, and like old times he was again geared for the challenge and eager to unleash havoc on Glen Helen and even a few other magazine editors.
With at least a dozen identical Raptors lined up behind the starting gate, the results of this race would be decided by the skills of each rider. The gate dropped, and without hesitation the determined racers stormed off the line like a pack of hungry wolves. In a matter of seconds the opening straight was ending as the big Talladega turn quickly approached, but with hopes of being the first through the turn, no one, not even one, cracked the throttle. At full speed, the racers entered the turn side by side and continued to struggle for the lead. It was at this point that Campbell's race strategy became clear. Glen Helen is a notorious high-speed racecourse and equal machines competing with cookie-cutter setups made a quick breakaway from the crowd nearly impossible. It would come down to possessing the ability to navigate the track without error that would win this event. Shaving fractions of a second off turns, clearing huge gaps and maintaining momentum through rhythm sections slowly separated the pack. This was no walk in the park and required keeping the 250 pinned whenever the opportunity was presented. A mere slip of the throttle during a moment of uncertainty would cost you a position on this day.
For rider safety and to meet...
For rider safety and to meet Quadcross regulations, Yamaha outfitted the Raptors with Pro Armor kill tethers.
GYTR pipes aren't just for...
GYTR pipes aren't just for good looks and a deep rumble; they bring life to Yamaha's blue beasts. This made incorporating a Yamaha GYTR pipe an obvious choice for this event.
As you can see, Yamaha made...
As you can see, Yamaha made getting a trophy pretty simple; getting out of bed the following morning after a long night of celebration wasn't so easy.
The first thing I must make clear is that this machine is not a 450 and should not be compared to a 450. On the other hand, don't get the wrong impression and think this 250 should be taken lightly. Like its 700cc big brother and 450cc cousin, the Raptor 250 is exceptionally nimble with superb handling characteristics and has the heart of a lion. This is to be expected of a machine designed to compete at a National level in the ITP Quadcross Series. Our units were equipped with Yamaha's GYTR pipe, which brought the already peppy 250 powerplant to life. With a willing pilot, the Raptor can rip through the gears and reach speeds necessary to launch up the face of huge jumps sending the 313-pound machine airborne. A smooth and consistent ride is the key to maintaining these high speeds allowing the Raptor to accomplish feats that were thought to be possible only on a machine with a much larger displacement.
The suspension is impressive for an ATV of this size. Campbell tips the scales at around 195 pounds fully geared from head to toe, and under his command the Raptor had no problem taking the grueling abuse he subjected it to on this relentless day at Glen Helen. Hammering through the whoops and absorbing an accidental free fall from 15 feet during practice left Campbell battered, but the Raptor remained unscathed. As expected when landing huge air jumps on a stock quad, the 250 suspension did occasionally bottom but overall did its job of keeping the power to the ground. In virtually stock form the Raptor 250 endured a full day of nonstop pounding without skipping a beat.
If this experience sounds like something you would enjoy, you must give it a shot. The ITP Quadcross Series now hosts two classes for the 250, and with the Yamaha's MSRP at a mere $4199, the Raptor provides an ideal gateway into racing. Breaking the bank to build a monster racer is now strictly optional. You can duke it out with equal machines as we did in the stock class, or go all out and build a radical Raptor 250 to compete in the modified class. The choice is yours; either way, a great time is guaranteed.
Disclaimer: ATV racing is highly addictive and should only be attempted by those who are ready for a life-changing experience.
"This was no walk in the park...
"This was no walk in the park and required keeping the 250 pinned whenever the opportunity was presented."
Very little has changed since...
Very little has changed since Adam began racing as a boy. He's still ripping up the track with his father Bob Campbell by his side on race day. When this dynamic duo arrives on scene you can be assured there will be some great racing action in the day to come.
The excitement in Campbell's voice when telling his story was enough to make me want to tackle a track on board a Raptor 250 myself. As I mentioned earlier, Campbell has many years of racing under his belt, and to hear him state that this was the most fun he has had on an ATV in many years says a lot! The Raptor is a phenomenal entry-level machine and can even be competitive for top-level riders who wish to compete in the 250 class. The smaller powerplant allows a rider's skills to shine and will surely bring fresh meat to events in the future. If it's a great time you seek, Campbell suggests throwing a leg over a Raptor 250!
Throughout two motos it was Campbell's years of experience and sheer determination that helped to keep him in the fight for the lead. As the machines approached the waving checkered flag, Campbell would take the number two spot, bringing honor to the staff of ATV Rider. Our lives and careers revolve around ATVs, and we take our racing very serious. A huge thanks to Yamaha for allowing us to take part in this extraordinary event and kudos from the entire ATV Rider staff goes out to Adam Campbell for a job well done!