CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — Ariel Buyarski is your typical teenager, learning to balance school work with her outside passions. Unlike other teens, however, Buyarski lives her life at a faster pace—competing in off-road racing at one of the highest levels.
“I started when I was 15,” Ariel said. “I started a year early actually, so it kind of gave me a little jump.”
Ariel, now 16, has taken a big leap in the one year she’s been racing competitively. With a family background in racing, she picked up the sport quickly. As a small child, Ariel would go trail riding with her parents, but over the years she lost interest. Her dad, Michael, continued racing himself and in a race that Ariel, her passion reignited.
“I saw the kids rip it around on quads and stuff—because that’s what I first started racing was a four-wheeler—and I was like, ‘Okay, Dad, this looks kind of cool. Can I do this again?'” Ariel said. “I got in it in 2021 and that was my first season in it. And I did pretty well. I won the amateur championship and I think I got seventh overall out of like 40 drivers.”
What sets her apart, her dad says, is her speed and agility behind the wheel.
“She has a talent to go fast. When you see her through the trees where it’s real tight, she just goes through them without hitting things. And we don’t know how she does it, but that’s what she does,” Michael said.
Ariel might not hit the trees hard enough to impact her speed on a course, but she admitted that a little rough and tumble racing is how she likes to compete.
“I like this feeling of pinging through the trees…I like to bounce off the trees. I just find it so fun,” she said. “When I’m out on the track nothing else matters for that one hour, it’s just me and my car and my copilot.”
The passion Ariel has is shared, not only by her dad who races with her, but by her mom Diane who is there cheering her along every step of the way.
“‘I’m watching my daughter and I enjoy watching her race. I feel the excitement she feels,” Diane said. “I feel what she feels when she’s out there racing.”
After seeing Ariel find quick success in the racing world, Michael encouraged her to take her competition to the next level. Ariel might not have enjoyed every part of her dad’s coaching as it was happening, but she definitely appreciates it now—and for good reason.
“The Red Bull race is very challenging. It’s a super tight course and there’s racers from all over the country, including Red Bull’s team also races. So they’re the best of the best,” Michael said.
Micheal encouraged Ariel to compete in the Red Bull Mountain Scramble, an off-road course in backcountry woods and mountainous terrain held in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.
“Everything was like, ‘okay, Red Bull, Red Bull, Red Bull, Seven Springs,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, dad, calm down, it’s just a normal race,” Ariel laughed.
Before the race began, Ariel’s nerves were high.
“I looked at my copilot. I was like, ‘Katrina, I think I just peed myself because I was so nervous,'” Ariel said. “I was like, there is no way. And I was shaking from the time we did the staging and stuff. When I hopped in my car and stepped in, I was shaking the entire time.”
Shaking aside, the nerves were no match for the work Ariel put in.
“All the preparation, it worked, because I won,” she said.
Competing against more than 100 drivers, Ariel took first place in the SXS Sportsman Class, placing above many more experienced drivers.
“I think at Red Bull, there are 125 drivers. Three of them were just girl drivers and two of them were fully women teams,” Ariel said. “Seeing the two guys behind me in second and third that I beat…It was like ‘Oh my god, I’m a 16-year-old girl and I just beat two grown men.’ I was in shock.”
The win not only was a testament to Ariel’s talent but it has also encouraged her to continue racing at this level moving forward.
“Now I definitely want to hit the Red Bull snow scramble, which I think is in Michigan, but that’s later in the year. And then there’s also the Sand Scramble out in California, and that has interested me a little bit, especially after how I did now,” Ariel said. “I’m like, okay, let’s go try out these other kinds of races.”
She has had a good start to her racing career, but like the trails she races, Ariel is letting her life track come naturally.
“We’ll see what happens. If something comes out of it, go Ariel go. If not, go to college, get a job,” she said. “I don’t do it to get a name out there or money, I do it because I love it, the rush of adrenaline I get I’ve never had anywhere else.”
And her parents agree.
“I’d love to see it go somewhere, but that’s up to her. College is definitely in her future, she needs a degree and if this stuff goes with it, that’s fine. If it doesn’t. That’s okay, too,” Michael said.
“So long as she’s having fun,” Diane added.
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