RJ Anderson: The Price of Podiums
RJ Anderson: The Price of Podiums
Out in the sandy hills of Baja, or the barren Nevada desert, people still ride steel chariots into battle. RJ Anderson is one of those people.
RJ Anderson | Garage Feature
A Rising Off-Road Star
At the young age of 27, RJ is an acclaimed off-road superstar, careening through whoops in his Pro 2 or Pro 4 short-course trucks that've won him a slew of podium finishes. He's won everything you could imagine; The Crandon World Championships, two LOORRS Pro Lite championships, a UTV world championship, and his team's won Lucas Oil Team of The Year the last two years running.
A Family Tradition
RJ's father, Randy Anderson, was the crew chief of Walker Evans Racing for over 35 years, and he instilled in RJ a love for the sport. “When I was a kid, I grew up going to off-road races with my dad. My dad was busy with racing, and we'd go to the races to spend time with him when I was a young kid. So, I have pictures of me in the pits or with Kirtland Duke and Walker Evans some of the legends of the sport.”
Being born into racing, and driving UTV’s at an early age, set RJ up for unprecedented success in multiple off-road arenas. He's one of the brightest stars in the sport, having achieved so much at such a young age, but all that success didn't come easily.
Life Outside The Track
“Very few people truly understand the work and the effort, the blood, sweat, and tears that go into this: the failures and the successes and the things you have to miss out on. No one sees it, because I don’t try to put it out there.”
Casual fans see the glamor. The 2-tons of steel spraying dirt across the horizon. The sweat-soaked race suits. Dirt-caked bumpers. Press. Accolades. Awards.
What we don’t see — what no one sees — are the hours in the garage spent fine-tuning your rig for race day when you’ve never even cracked the top 10. Or the missed memories. The what-might-have-been moments that galvanize friendships and form everlasting bonds.
“I missed 52 days of high school during my senior year. Days that I'll never get back. You hope that those things you miss out on are worth it, but those days where you work night after night and miss your birthdays, hanging out with your loved ones, important life milestones. Days when you go to an event, absolutely suck and lose every race. There've been many times I've looked back like, ‘Is this worth it?’ ‘Why am I doing this?’ But you need to believe in the trust and the process.”
It's not just RJ that's sacrificed, it's also what his team has missed out on— One year, one of RJ's main mechanics attended one of the races, and his expectant wife delivered their baby early. He ended up missing the birth of his child while at the race.
“It's those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, you know, some things never happen again. And we all go through things. Everyone sees that life's so good because social media paints such a good picture. That everyone's life is so perfect, but everyone has had something they missed.”
Sacrificing to Cement the Future
Success is a product of preparation and sacrifice, something RJ Anderson knows better than most people his age. But, to get extraordinary results, he and his teammates have had to reject an average life.
They don’t regret it for a second. The sacrifices that RJ and his team make are worth every second. Every fan they meet, every person they entertain, every positive interaction helps bolster their mission to cement the future of off-road racing.
As RJ looks to the future, he’s set his sights on bolstering one of the burgeoning frontiers in racing, the UTV segment. A growing segment that lowers the barrier of entry into the sport, allowing people without a family racing lineage like RJ’s to enter the arena. Perhaps one day, the kids who’ve grown up watching RJ win will bang doors with him the same way he has with the greats he looked up to as a child.