Lt. John Nores Jr. (ret.) built the Thin Green Line RZR to promote environmental resource protection through OHV adventures.
The Thin Green Line RZR
Words: Lt. John Nores Jr. (ret.)
Prelude: June 2013 – Soloing the Baja 500
Pure excitement was all I could feel when finally seeing the city lights of Ensenada through the dust and silt generated by the handful of trophy trucks and race buggies ahead of me. Knowing those lights marked the finish line and I was close to conquering one of my most challenging and dangerous objectives to date, adrenaline kicked in again. Just shy of 16 hours into soloing the SCORE International Baja 500 race on a Yamaha YFZ450, I was less than an hour from being the first solo ATV rider to successfully finish the race.
I had attempted this solo endeavor in 2010 and missed reaching the finish line in time by a heartbreaking 22 minutes, due to a race ending crash and breakdown close to this very spot. The mix of emotions in that moment were intense. Exhausted, yet exhilarated, I navigated the final miles of the course as Jeff (my life-long buddy, Baja racing teammate and excellent rider that soloed the 2010 Baja 500 in record time on his motorcycle) followed me in. Jeff had my back as we crossed the finish line together, sharing in the victory as the checker flag dropped well before the 22-hour deadline.
Successfully soloing the Baja 500 and getting that monkey off my back was one of two lifetime accomplishments in 2013 I will be eternally grateful for. While I didn’t realize it at the time, that would be my last Baja race because of a much more significant and relevant development a month later.
July 2013: The Thin Green Line goes special ops.
Within a few weeks of the Baja adventure, another significant event was taking place in my life. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s launched a new “Marijuana Enforcement Team” (MET) pilot program throughout the Golden State of California, with a Delta sniper unit shortly following. Being the co-founder and team leader of those units (and the 24/7 commitment required from all of us at the time), most everything else outside of family duties was sidelined, including Baja races.
The MET’s development, and operations have been featured in previous issues of Recoil and Recoil Off Grid. My latest book, titled “Hidden War”, covers the MET’s development and first six years in operation. In a nutshell, the MET is a conservation/special operations unit comprised of highly trained and skilled game wardens, K9’s and snipers that was developed specifically to combat the drug cartels that operate illegally within US borders. Those cartel operations threaten our public’s safety and decimate our wildlife, wildland and waterway resources throughout the US.
March 2020: The Recoil Thin Green Line RZR – Expanding Conservation Outreach.
Since retiring from active duty in December of 2018, I have continued to promote the challenging, dangerous, and important work that these units do to protect America’s public and environmental resources from cartel destruction and other environmental threats. Besides current and conventional outreach mediums, an exciting and unconventional way of unifying and educating our nation’s outdoor enthusiasts has developed – the Thin Green Line RZR!
With the generous support of a diverse mix of sponsors (Recoil, Recoil Off Grid, Recoil TV, Polaris, Montana Power Products in Libby, Montana, Stitch2 wrap, Gun Digest, VNIVES, OMF Performance Products, XTC Motorsports, Hayes Taxidermy Studio, KUIU Ultralight Hunting, Allterra Arms, Kestrel Ballistics, Nosler Inc., LAG Tactical holsters, Triumph Systems reactive targets, Glock Inc., Sig Sauer, Eotech, American Zealot Productions and Hill Shadow Pictures) the Thin Green Line Polaris 2020 XP Pro Ultimate RZR was born.
With age comes a cage, and after riding and racing ATVs for decades, it’s exciting to be in the caged cockpit of one of the most hi-tech and capable production side by sides on the market. The TGL RZR will be used throughout the US at conservation, second amendment, patriotic, veteran, LEO, other first-responder and charity fundraiser events. We will be there to represent, educate and promote Thin Green Line topics as they relate to protection of our nation’s wildlife and environmental resources. The RZR will also be featured in upcoming episodes of our Thin Green Line film series.
The Recoil Thin Green Line RZR Exterior – Bold look and essential survival accessories
Starting with a stock RZR XP Pro Ultimate, a few immediate changes were necessary before our sponsors at Stitch2Wrap draped the RZR in vinyl. To keep the RZR hidden from any unwanted attention, all red and other bright-colored accents were removed and coated matte black.
When looking at the before and after photos, the transition is incredible. The transformed exterior of the TGL RZR is beautiful, with thin green line features throughout. The wrap team did a beautiful job building bold TGL American flags on both the driver and passenger doors, with both flags appropriately facing forward. The rest of the machine is wrapped with a black multi-cam base color to make our sponsor’s graphics contrast and pop. Some sponsor graphics retain their original look and colors, while some were changed up to tactical color schemes to blend and contrast nicely with the matt black and OD green dark multi-cam base colors.
The thin green line American flag punisher image is prominent on the center of the RZR’s hood cowling and placed subtly on other parts of the interior and exterior of the machine. This is nostalgic, since the TGL flag image is a former MET unit logo and honors our worldwide conservation warriors fighting to stop wildlife resource destruction. The TGL flag punisher graphic is also on all five wheels (counting the full size spare and TGL bead lock wheel mounted strategically above the rear truck and cargo box area of the machine) centered cleanly on the hub cap of each Pro Armor bead lock tire and wheel combination. Each black bead lock ring on all five wheels has also been treated in a matching green color to match other TGL features on the RZR.
Other external accessories added include full doors, a fully-wrapped poly roof, Rigid 32-inch LED flood/spot combination light, and Rigid Ignite cube lights for added illumination behind the RZR. Other essential additions are the quick detachable front and rear poly wind shields (critical in the colder months here in the Pacific Northwest), Polaris’s 4500-pound winch, and convex rearview and adjustable folding side mirrors. The side mirrors are sleek, compact, easily adjustable.
For RZR protection in rough and rocky terrain, we added Polaris’s lower profile front and rear bumper systems, as well as a set of their low-profile rock sliders below each door. These lower profile protectors yield a sleek profile for the machine and look great wrapped in the black multi-cam color. With protected storage critical in a small two door side-by-side, we added Polaris’ durable 70 liter and 40-liter polymer front and rear cargo boxes in the trunk area of the TGL RZR, with the smaller 40-liter integrated box working as a cooler when needed. Both boxes are modular and quickly attach and detach from the bed with Lock N Ride clamps. Between the two cargo containers, I am able to fit enough food, sleeping bags, and other survival supplies to sustain a multiday overland journey in comfort.
The Thin Green Line RZR Interior – High tech styling and comfort.
When sitting behind the wheel in the TGL RZR’s cockpit, the styling and ergonomics of this machine are impressive. The nicely padded seats are comfortable and four-point racing harness restraints are beefy, padded, and secure. After turning the key and firing up the fuel injected turbo charged 181 horsepower motor, the array of dashboard lighting and demo images on the LCD screen sparks an instant grin.
The controls are almost as elaborate and every bit as well laid out as my Gen 2 Ford Raptor, with a gauge selection button and volume controls built into the steering wheel for the sub-woofer enhanced Bluetooth and USB accessory capable sound system. For the passenger, a comfortable and confidence-inspiring grab bar that is fully adjustable for length of pull sits just under the dashboard.
Also on the steering wheel are control buttons for the three Dynamix suspension settings including comfort (soft for smooth to moderate speed road conditions), sport (most off-road conditions at moderate speeds) and firm (rough terrain, high speed conditions). Next to these suspension control buttons is a separate red “lockout” emergency button that instantly locks the Fox Live Valve suspension system to its firmest setting regardless of suspension status at the time of lock out. Used for emergencies when operators get in over their heads on rough terrain or when catching air and separating the RZR from the ground, this lockout activation ensures the safest and most controllable outcome for the conditions.
Other tech features included are a Polaris Ride Command system featuring in-dash GPS, front and rear cameras, Bluetooth phone integration, audio controls, active suspension dynamics for the Fox Live Valve suspension system and a wide array of other customizable screens. The group ride (cell-based or GPS based) communication feature is great, and the topographic mapping, bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity are useful. Other features include AM/FM and weather radio, in-vehicle communications with optional headsets, a Rockford Fosgate premium audio system with two tweeters, two front mid-range speakers and external 400W amp to drive your sound.
A benefit of Polaris machines is their wide range of OEM accessories and, for the 2020 RZR specifically, the list is massive. Along with the external cargo boxes, we added essential storage compartments throughout the interior. The formed and carbon fiber-look door pockets are stylish, spacious and hold an array of essentials. My Sig Sauer .300 ACC Blackout Rattler pistol with Sig Romeo RDS optic and 30 round magazine fit in the pocket snugly while allowing enough space for a smooth and efficient draw should it be necessary.
The Thin Green Line RZR – On and off-road performance
All the technology and design features of the TGL RZR add up to more than just an eye-catching show pony, as this machine is an absolute blast to ride. Up here in Montana we can license our OHV’s and run them on the street as well as off road, so the true test of how the TGL RZR handles and performs was conducted over various terrain, ranging from paved streets to desert sand based terrain, rocky and rutted mountains everything in between. The machine performs well in all of these conditions.
The TGL RZR’s powertrain has more power on tap than needed in most conditions and a power curve that is snappy, but linear enough to be predictable and controllable when speeds climb quickly. The machine sticks to the ground exceptionally when you need it to, even at high speed in rough, uneven terrain. The shift-on-the-fly two wheel and four-wheel drive modes are quick and smooth during transition and this beast can climb just about any incline when the rear differential is locked and the machine is locked in low range.
These handling qualities are largely due to the incredible Live Valve Fox suspension system on the TGL RZR. By using electronic vehicle sensors, Live Valve instantly adapts the machine’s suspension performance to ideally match the terrain, speed and conditions driven at any given moment while maximizing handling, comfort, and bottom-out resistance. Regardless of the suspension mode the machine is in, the Live Valve system is constantly reading the terrain and vehicle’s sensors to make nano-second changes in real time. After hammering through rough terrain at high speeds and hardly feeling the big bumps, I was amazed at how effective and smooth the machine handled with this suspension system.
The Thin Green Line RZR: Expanding the conservation network.
As my friend, TGL film series sponsor and OMF Performance Products founder Tim Orchard recently pointed out, the TGL RZR project is an effective tool in spreading our message. It broadens conservation education and outreach beyond the traditional groups within the firearms, hunting, angling and tactical communities to previously unaware groups, in this case the off-road OHV and racing community.
While Tim has recently become an avid hunter and worldwide conservationist, his background has always been within the off-road racing community. Here in our industry exist millions of outdoor enthusiasts that are largely unaware of the threats to our public and wildlife resources that the cartels represent stateside. Our goal is to spread awareness to help educate off-road enthusiasts and protect our nation’s wildlife, wildlands and pristine water sources. The TGL RZR will expand the message while helping unify outdoor recreating groups in all areas for the good of us all.