Christopher Polvoorde '22 Balances USD Business School Education, Pro Off-Road Racing Career

Christopher Polvoorde turned 20 in late July, which is an age considered by some to still earn him the label as “just a kid.”

In reality, though, the life path of this Hemet, Calif., native has grown so much that at his age, he’s actually now hitting his stride with the skilled presence of a veteran who has shown the maturity to succeed while juggling a full-time college student schedule and a full-time, professional off-road racing driver that’s equal parts racing and travel and business decision-making.

“It’s changed the way I look at everything,” says Polvoorde of the balanced life he leads. “It’s taught me a lot of self-discipline.”

Christopher Polvoorde '22

His racing commitments growing up meant missing a lot of in-person class time, but he still put in the work on both ends and achieved a 4.5 GPA in high school, earning him a scholarship when he determined rather quickly that University of San Diego is where he wanted to go. He’s now a third-year student double majoring in finance and real estate through the USD School of Business.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at USD and in the business school,” he said. “My favorite class so far is Real 320 (Principles of Real Estate) with Professor (John) Demas. I really enjoy Demas and (Real Estate Lecturer) Joseph Anfuso.”

Outside of class, Polvoorde said he’s enhanced his learning through the business school’s graduation accompaniment, the Passport program, by attending accounting talks and real estate panel discussions.

With his academic focus in check, his racing career continues to blossom with each passing race, each passing year. Having raced since age 10 when the first vehicle he received came as a result of a man who, unable to pay a debt to his businessman father, instead gave him a race car.

He had an adventurous spirit and a love of the outdoors and he satisfied both by taking up racing karts competitively. He struggled at first — “We had zero clue what we were doing. We were last place all the time at the start. My dad, me and my mom did everything, we were just learning as we went.”

But hard work, time and effort, and hiring key people — a crew chief, a driving coach — provided structure and soon after, success. In 2014, Polvoorde was the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (LOORRS)’ Modified Kart rookie of the year and in 2015 he won the LOORRS Mod Kart championship. He was the 2015 and 2016 Mod Kart world champion at Crandon International Raceway in Wisconsin, considered a legendary off-road racing facility, and he was the 2016 LOORRS Mod Kart Challenge Cup champion.

Then a decision was made to move to a different level of racing. Since 2017, he’s been competing in the LOORRS Pro Lite (Truck) series where he was its rookie of the year, has finished no worse than sixth place in the overall points standings — he was third in 2018 and fourth in 2017 — and is currently second in the 2020 LOORRS points standings as the season will conclude October 16-18 at San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Raceway (due to COVID-19 protocols, fans are not allowed to view the races).

His 2019 season was special in that he won eight consecutive races and captured the Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League Pro Lite championship as well as the Crandon Pro Lite world title, again at Crandon International Raceway.

He capped off last year by earning a driver’s contract to compete in 2020 for the new Team Honda Talon Factory Racing, which drives Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) in desert racing events. Interestingly, Polvoorde was recruited to the same team as another current USD student and defending LOORRS Pro Buggy champion driver, Eliott Watson, a third-year electrical engineering student from El Centro, Calif. Polvoorde and Watson are best of friends by way of their passion for racing and they were even college roommates their sophomore year.

“We’ve had our eyes on Eliott and Christopher for some time,” said Jeff Proctor, Team Principal for the Honda Talon Factory Racing in a statement announcing the drivers’ signing. “At their young ages, they already have long and successful careers in short-course racing, with multiple championships between them in many classes and they show no signs of slowing down. They’re perfect for our program and we look forward to helping them develop as racers.”

Honda saw something in both drivers, including Polvoorde’s previous international racing experiences in Mexico and in China’s Asia Baja 1000 Rally in 2018. The Honda racing partnership has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic as there have been limited racing opportunities. Polvoorde has run in the Mint 400, ULTRA 4 King of the Hammers, and it is hoped he’ll compete in upcoming races such as the UTV Championships, the SCORE Baja 500, Best in the Desert’s Vegas to Reno race and the SCORE Baja 1000.

Racing is Polvoorde’s future, well after he graduates from USD in May 2022, but one can bet both racing and the business insights from his remote learning classes, applied class projects and more extracurricular Passport activities will give him a well-rounded skillset.

“I’ve been fortunate to race in different parts of the world, I’ve got a Ford sponsorship (in LOORRS) and I own and operate my own racing team with two full-time marketing people, sponsors, and two full-time mechanics,” he said. “As much as I love the racing, what it has also taught me is to be mature and figure things out quickly. When I look back on how I’ve grown, I’m super thankful to be where I am.”

Truly, Polvoorde is wise beyond his years.

— Ryan T. Blystone

All photos courtesy of Christopher Polvoorde. No photos can be re-used without permission from Christopher Polvoorde.

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