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1998 Jeep Wrangler Desert Race Car - Team ATK's Race Ready Wrangler

Posted in Features on December 1, 2008
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We don't typically feature full race vehicles in 4WD&SU Magazine but sometimes a unique enough 4x4 race rig crosses our path that we just can't pass up the opportunity. Being that we're big fans of the 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ, Jon Krellwitz's well-built #3797 Currie JeepSpeed Cup Jeep Wrangler fit the "unique enough 4x4 race rig" criteria to make the cut. And after delving deeper in to the Jeep's design and quality construction it was even more obvious that this was something to be shared with our readers.

The wheelbase was stretched to 105.5 inches, which is the factory Wrangler Unlimited wheelbase of 103.5 inches plus 2 inches. This permits the Jeep to be legal for SCORE Class 3 (max 108-inch wheelbase) as well as Currie Jeepspeed Cup (max 116-inch wheelbase). With SCORE Class 3 you also have to retain an original style motor but Jeepspeed Cup rules allow installation of a variety of V8 engines.

The build of the Team ATK #3797 Jeep Wrangler began with a conversation between Jon and Jeepspeed Series owner, Clive Skilton, at the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, California. They decided to partner on the build to illustrate how a vehicle for the new Jeepspeed Cup racing class might look and perform. The concept is for Jeepspeed Challenge participants to graduate to a higher level of desert racing but still remain in the Jeepspeed clan.

When approached by Clive, Jon was in the planning stages of a Jeepspeed Challenge race program for the 2007 season. He was partnered up with Jason Lafortune for 2006 when they won the Jeepspeed season championships in a Cherokee that they built in 10 days. Jon did half the driving that season and was ready to step into his own program. While building the Wrangler presented a great opportunity, the time it took to complete the build swallowed up most of the 2007 season. But as Jon explains it, it was well worth the wait. In his words, "The truck is substantially faster than a JeepSpeed 1 and it has been exciting to develop a new platform for Team ATK. My team and I are looking forward to the two years of competition in the truck. We are already off to a good start."

To get things started with the build Clive purchased a 1998 4-cylinder Jeep Wrangler from Don-A-Vee Chrysler Jeep, and then stripped it down and just kept the tub and chassis to stay within the rules, and sold the rest of the parts to Ajax Auto Wrecking. This way they had a clean California title on the Jeep and a solid foundation upon which to begin the build. Jon took over from there and with the help of many friends and sponsors the Team ATK #3797 Jeep Wrangler was race ready for the 2008 season of the ATK Engines Jeepspeed Desert Race Series.

PhotosView Slideshow
Vehicle: {{{1998 Jeep Wrangler}}}
Owners: Jon Krellwitz/ San Dimas, CA, Clive Skilton/ Orange, CA
Engine: ATK 4.7L Stroker
Induction: MPI
Transmission: MOPAR 727 Automatic
Transfer case/low range ratio: NV249/2.72:1
Front end: Currie Track 9, 35-spline axle shafts, {{{F-450}}} unit bearings
Rear end: Currie Track 9, 35-spline axle shafts
Ring and Pinion: 5.14
Front Differential: Detroit TrueTrac
Rear Differential: Spool
Suspension: Full Traction links with King 2.5-inch coilover and 3-inch, 3 tube bypass shocks
Tires: 35x12.50R15 BFGoodrich {{{Baja}}} T/A
Wheels: 15x8 American Racing Outlaw II
PhotosView Slideshow

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