Every spring a semi-truck pulls up to Weezie’s Wild Rides and drops boxes containing Polaris side-by-sides — in parts. Then co-owner Chris Green and crew set to work assembling this brand-new fleet for their busy summer season.
“They run and drive, but you have to put on all the roll cages, seats, and hard covers,” Chris says.
It is a challenge, but only because of time: Having grown up on a farm, Green is an experienced diesel mechanic and “jack-of-all-trades”. His wife and business partner Tracy “Weezie” Green, too, grew up on a farm. In her case the farm and the nearby town Willowdale, Kansas, were founded by her great, great-grandfather.
The duo is used to hard work, a good thing since they have expanded their business from a small fleet of rentals at a smaller location further down Main Street to their current location, a large garage and office at 718 E Main Street in Red River.
Like so many transplants to Red River, Tracy says, “We came on vacation, and we fell in love with it out here.”
They rented 4x4s from Mike Julian, owner of Mike’s Fun Place, and, in conversation, they learned Mike was ready to retire.
“He’d been wanting to retire for a while,” Tracy says, to which Chris responds with a laugh, “He found a sucker.”
They re-named the business after Tracy’s nickname. “Weezie is my dad’s nickname for me,” Tracy explains. “My middle name is Louise.”
Tracy says the Red River business opportunity gave them a new chance. “We didn’t just farm. I ran an alcohol and drug treatment center, and he was a diesel mechanic. Then, when my dad passed away, we were also farming. We were running ourselves to death trying to do all of it. He’s a pretty darned-good mechanic and I really liked my job, too. We couldn’t give up anything, it seemed like, so we gave up all of it!”
Chris and Tracy sold it all, left their jobs and made the move in June 2017, right after Memorial Day weekend. In addition to the side-by-sides, Mike’s Fun Place also housed a bull ride, climbing wall, and bumper cars. They dispensed with those immediately.
“We got rid of everything we didn’t want and kept what we knew,” Chris says.
Even with Chris’ mechanical skills, the first few years were a challenge, Tracy notes. “We replaced half the inventory the first year and the other half the second year. We could see that it was going to be really hard to keep that up. With the old inventory, we were making runs up to Alamosa (the nearest Polaris dealer) constantly.
The trips led to a close friendship with the Alamosa Polaris dealer Mark Gilleland, owner of Mark’s Outdoor Sports, Tracy says. “We were talking about how to keep it going. I asked him if he knew of any programs.”
The question was fortuitous: Polaris was launching a new partnership with rental companies that enabled Weezie’s to buy a new fleet every year with the added benefit of marketing, website support, safety programs and swift access to parts. “We get parts pretty fast because they know our season’s short,” Tracy says.
The machines come with “ride command”, a dash GPS tool that aids customers with route planning, group self-guided tours, and mapping — a necessity since all Weezie’s rentals are self-guided. As Polaris notes on its website, this tool lets riders “go anywhere you want to go without worry of losing your route even when cell service is nowhere to be found.”
Polaris benefits because every customer at Weezie’s is essentially test-driving the latest machine — and it’s one that works at Red River’s high-altitude, challenging 4×4 terrain.
Weezie’s benefits from having new machines that need far less maintenance and repairs. Says Chris, “We started with Polaris Adventures in 2019 and we moved to our current location in 2021.”
Tracy notes the business has “been successful beyond our wildest dreams. Our fleet has gone from 15 to 25, and that allowed us to hire employees, too.”
Additionally, employees benefit as they learn new skills, Tracy says. “With the outfitter program they can be certified mechanics, too. They can take that with them.”
Both Chris and Tracy put their lifelong work ethic to good use — and their community spirit. Chris, whose father was a fire chief in Kansas, has been a volunteer firefighter since he was 16. He now volunteers with the Red River Fire Department and its rope rescue team.
Tracy stepped into a council position that was vacated by Sloan Covington when he moved and chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee. Both helped co-found the Red River Off-Road Coalition, a 501c3 non-profit that helps repair and maintain area USDA Forest Service roads that are popular with 4×4 fans.
Chris says he formed the group so they would have a legal way to help with road repairs — initially the Old Red River Pass — since they already owned necessary heavy equipment.
In 2018 Chris said he had attended a meeting hosted by the Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation during which “they said they needed help. I let it sit for a little while then I got together with the other outfitters in town to try to help maintain the trails.
“The Old Pass was closed. I got everybody rounded up. Went to the Forest Service and said, ‘I’ve got everybody, I’ve got equipment.’ We got that fixed working with them.”
Since then, the non-profit has repaired the sometimes-treacherous Goose Lake Road and tackled the huge task of clearing trees on the route to Greenie Peak and Goose Lake Road following a windstorm Dec. 15, 2021, that saw gusts in excess of 115mph.
“Member donations and volunteers helped clear the windfall off the road to Greenie Peak,” Chris says, adding, “We have a group of volunteers who help. Plus, we paid pros like Nate Kite and Domingo Gallegos to help grade the roads and restore water bars.”
Next, Chris says, “We’re hoping for funding from a grant to grade the road up Pioneer Trail.”
In addition to helping with the non-profit, Tracy’s Parks and Recreation Committee plans for constant improvements. In recent years these have included the new pump track/skate park in Mallette Park, a newly refinished tennis /pickleball court, and new playground equipment in Brandenburg Park.
A new restroom with running water is being completed at the edge of Mallette Park sometime this year (“It won’t be usable until we have new water lines.”), then, Tracy says, the committee will focus on its next goals: Funding a permanent stage in the park and funding a recreation center at the softball field by the helicopter rescue pad.
“That’s been a priority since 2018,” Tracy notes, adding locals’ wants” include a “swimming pool, an indoor walking path, gym, and classrooms where clubs could meet, (archery club, skiing club).
“We also just formed a cemetery sub-committee.”
Tracy praises the efforts of everyone on the Parks and Recreation committee — Fred Northern, Linton Judycki, Paulette Kiker, Kimberly Ritterhouse, and Brian Waltz. “Everybody that comes to Parks and Rec volunteers their time outside the meetings.”
To which Chris adds with a smile, “I’m not on that committee, but I get roped into working.”
Asked how they manage to do it all, the duo laugh and say it all comes back to their farming background: “We’re used to hard work!”