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Mighty, Mighty CJ

Front Passengers Side View Climbing Rock
Posted February 1, 2005

Keeping the 5 Alive

It was way back in 1994 when Cody Waggoner of Capistrano Beach, California, bought his '71 Jeep CJ-5. First using it as a daily driver, Cody and the Jeep ventured the 80-mile-roundtrip trek to work and back and hit the trails on the weekends. After his first introduction to the Hammer Trails in the Johnson Valley OHV area, as well as some eager prompting from Jason Bunch of Tri County Gear and Cody's wife Lindsay, the decision to make the leap from trail runner to competitive rockcrawler was made.

Cody got his first taste of competitive rockcrawling back in 2001 at the Warn National Rock Crawling Championship in Las Cruces, New Mexico. With his father Jim serving as his spotter, Cody established a Second Place win at the event, piloting the 83-inch-wheelbase CJ-5 against longer and seemingly more capable sprung-over rigs. The 2002 season brought two Second Place series wins in ProROCK and CalROCS, only to be followed by a Fourth Place overall at the 2003 CalROCS Put-Up or

Shut-Up unclassified competition. Jim retired with his trophies at that point to make way for two new spotters: Jack Graef of CTM Racing handled spotting duties for the ProROCK series, while "Commando" Mike Berard took on the CalROCS series. With the aid of his new spotters, Cody's greatest feat to date occurred in 2003, when he nabbed the First Place series championship in both ProROCK and CalROCS. Never one to disappoint, Cody maintained his reign throughout 2004, finishing both the ProROCK and CalROCS season as the Second Place series champion.

With the assistance of his infallible sponsors, including Industrial Process Equipment, Tri County Gear, Tractech, Warn, CTM Racing, Deaver Spring, Goodyear, AGR, Allied Racing Wheels, and J.E. Reel, things are looking even brighter for the 2005 season. With his proven abilities, Cody, along with Team Waggoner Racing, has earned a host of additional sponsors to help the team garner another victory. PRP Racing Seats will join the team in 2005, as will IronClad Gloves, Torco Racing Oil, and Optima Batteries.

In a world where competitive rockcrawling has become synonymous with rock buggies and purpose-built 'crawlers, it's refreshing to see that competitors such as Cody are giving it their all in a machine that's just at home on a friendly trail ride as it is fighting the clock to make a gate. True to its name, it's a mighty, mighty CJ-5. And as far as we're concerned, we're mighty glad to see it still tackling the rocks and conquering its competition.

Year/make/model:'71 Jeep CJ-5
Owner/hometown:Cody Waggoner/ Capistrano Beach, California
Engine: '71 {{{Buick}}} 225 V-6
Induction:Two-barrel Rochester
Transmission: Muncie SM420
Transfer case: Atlas II 3.8
Frontend: Dana 44, Detroit Locker, CTM U-joints
Rearend: Dana 44, Detroit Locker, CTM U-joints
Ring-and-pinion: 4.88
Suspension: 2-1/2-inch Deaver Springs, Bilstein shocks
Tires/wheels: 35x12.50R15 Goodyear MT/Rs/15x10-inch Allied Racing Rock-A-Thon bead locks


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  • Cody Waggoner of Capistrano Beach, California, purchased his '71 Jeep CJ-5 in 1994. Since that time, Cody has established himself and his mighty rig as fierce competitors in the professional rockcrawling scene.

  • Even with its 83-inch wheelbase, the CJ-5 still has what it takes to contend against longer-wheelbase rigs. In 2003, Cody and his CJ-5 notched up First Place series championships in both ProROCK and CalROCS. Cody finished as the Second Place series champion in both event series in 2004.

  • An AGR steering system and heavy-duty tie rod and drag link were employed to navigate the hefty Goodyear rubber, while the fenders were trimmed out for maximum tire stuffage. For an extra competitive edge, Cody installed two Warn 1.5ci ATV winches above the front and rear axles so the chassis can be snugged downward to lower the rig's center of gravity during steep approaches and departures.

  • Cody retained the spring-under-axle suspension, but installed 2-1/2-inch Deaver springs and Bilstein shocks to create a healthy degree of suspension flex. The siped and grooved 35-inch Goodyear MT/R meats are mounted to 15x10-inch Allied Rock-A-Thon bead locks. The custom competition rollcage was constructed by Cody, using 1-1/2-inch-diameter, 1/8-inch-thick tubing.

  • The shaved Dana 44 front axle was built by Tri County Gear in Pomona, California, and is equipped with 30-spline Warn chrome-moly axleshafts, CTM U-joints, 4.88 gears, and a Detroit Locker. Drum brakes are used at all four wheels. Also note the Warn 1.5ci ATV winch linked to the axle via a pulley.

  • The stock '71 tub is still in use, secured to the stock frame with 1/2-inch polyurethane body bushings from Energy Suspension. Powdercoated replacement body panels cover the original quarter panels to keep the rig looking good on the competitive field. A Warn 9.5 Thermometric winch resides up front, atop a custom bumper, and custom 3/16-inch steel rocker guards and skidplates provide ample rock protection.

  • The Buick 225 V-6 expels spent gas through dual SuperTrapp mufflers mounted just above the Tri County Gear-built Dana 44 rear axle. The shaved 44 uses custom 300M axleshafts from CTM Racing, CTM U-joints, 4.88 gears, and a Detroit Locker. Power is channeled front and rear via custom driveshafts by J.E. Reel Drivelines in Pomona.

  • Very few competitive rockcrawlers run carbureted engines, but Cody has consistently proven the worth of the two-barrel Rochester-equipped '71 Buick 225 V-6 odd-fire mill under the hood of his Mighty, Mighty CJ. The engine is mated to a Muncie SM420 four-speed tranny and Atlas II 3.8 transfer case. Both gearboxes are mounted flush with the frame for maximum ground clearance.

  • A 10-gallon fuel tank is mounted in the bed of the CJ, amid an Optima Red Top battery and an air compressor. Pyro-Tech restraints are secured to the tub floor to keep occupants firmly planted in the bucket seats. Also note the detailed rollcage construction to further ensure driver safety.

  • The custom aluminum dash houses multiple Auto Meter gauges, and four CNC-cutting brakes are mounted between the seats. A quick-release Grant steering wheel is affixed to a custom steering column, with a digital timer clipped in place to monitor gate times during competition.