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JeepSpeed: Race Your Cherokee

Front Passenger Side View
John Cappa | Writer
Posted May 1, 2002
Photographers: Verne Simons

Better Than Mom’s Volvo

Step By Step

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  • Casey Currie and the rest of the kids from Currie Enterprises race a two-door Cherokee with a heavily trussed Dana 44 up front and a Ford 9-inch out back. The rules require the rest of the drivetrain to remain all-Jeep.

  • The extra wheelbase of a Cherokee makes the ride smoother than most short-wheelbase Jeeps. You may live thousands of miles away from the desert, but it would still be fun to burn down rural dirt roads and jump your Jeep without worries.

  • From a distance the JeepSpeed Cherokees don’t look much different than your average off-roader. Some competitors have been known to drive their rigs to the race, race ’em, and then drive them home afterward.

  • Most of the races take place on graded roads, however there are rough sections and large rocks that tend to jump out into the trail. Some advice we got from one racer, “You really need to truss the front axle—a lot.”

  • Barrie Thompson aired his four-door for us. It runs a Skyjacker lift with Bilstein shocks. To keep building costs down, only over-the-counter production lift kits are allowed to be used.

Just about every freshly licensed teenager has taken Mom’s Volvo out for a ’wheeling trip. Maybe it was burnouts in your buddy’s front yard, airtime at the local 7-Eleven speed bump, or power slides on the dirt road to grandma’s house. If you were lucky, you had a local mud pit that you and all your friends tried to cross in Mom-mobiles. As adults we haven’t changed much, except we don’t have to explain to Mom why there’s mud on the car with some cow-in-the-road story.

If you’re like us and still haven’t grown up, you might like the rough driving and competition JeepSpeed offers. Sure, less than 25 percent of the United States has suitable desert terrain for the JeepSpeed races but every State in the Union has some sort of unimproved dirt road or occasional rough surface street. So something close to a JeepSpeed Cherokee could be a fun daily driver that you can go beat on for the weekend.

Think it’s expensive? Think again, a competitive rig can be built for less than $10,000, which includes the price of a used Cherokee. And get this, desert race Jeeps need wheel travel, clearance for big tires, and more traction just like rockcrawling Jeeps. You could build a Jeep that does it all. If you’re interested in an inside look on how a JeepSpeed Cherokee is built, drop us a line at Jp< Magazine, c/o More JeepSpeed, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048 or e-mail us at More JeepSpeed (or e-mail john.cappa@primedia.com).

For more information on JeepSpeed you can check out the Web site at www.jeepspeed.com or call 714/538-7434. For now here’s a few race photos that just might give you some ideas for your own Cherokee.

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