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TrophyLite R-4 - Chassis No. 37 - Masterpiece In Metal

Posted in Features on September 22, 2014
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Photographers: Boyd Jaynes

Off-road racing is fun to watch, and even more fun to be behind the wheel. However, the cost of building a full-blown race truck discourages many enthusiasts from even jumping into the driver seat and experiencing that exhilarating rush.

In an effort to make off-road racing more affordable, TrophyLite was created back in 2006. It was a low-cost alternative to many first-time drivers, and being that it was a full spec class, it made it fair to all of its competitors. Because of this, it attracted many of the aforementioned first-time drivers, as well as seasoned race drivers, like Todd Jackson.

Jackson was very experienced when it came to off-road racing, and spent many years racing in the Jeepspeed class. But after finally chasing down the championship title that had been eluding them back in 2013, Jackson and co-driver Mike Slater were ready for change.

Hiding this Masterpiece In Metal is the very sleek bodywork by Boatec, all of which is TrophyLite spec. Compared to a lot of the high-dollar Trophy Trucks you oftentimes see on these pages, you’ll notice that the track width is significantly smaller. This allows for a very manageable ride. There are times when these trucks have to travel through the darkest of desert nights, which is why Jackson’s truck was outfitted with three KC HiLiTES carbon-fiber HID pods, as well as a 10-inch LED bar.

“I loved my experience in the Jeep and can tell you that you really learn how to drive in a limited suspension class like Jeepspeed, but, after spending five years behind the wheel, my co-driver Mike Slater and I were ready for a change,” explained Jackson. “However, there were some criteria that we wanted to stick to. First off, we wanted the class to be competitive, challenging, fun, and have good camaraderie within the class. We also wanted the truck or buggy we raced to be purposely built for off-road racing. Mike and I looked at a few other classes and after meeting Rick Johnson at TrophyLite, we became interested in what TrophyLite had to offer.”

As Jackson and Slater started to look deeper into the TrophyLite class, there were some concerns the two had. “Prior to Rick taking over TL, there was talk about how the trucks had issues—vapor locking, breaking axles, engine programing issues and other items. You were also only allowed to prep your car but could not do any welding to, or on, the frame. Since Rick has taken over, though, a lot of changes have been made. The cars are built so that if you need to replace a tube on the chassis, you can simply call TL and they can ship the piece you need. If it is a major repair, then TL would need to be involved to make sure the integrity of the car and class rules are adhered to, but for the most part you are allowed a lot more freedom than in the past to make simple repairs. This keeps the cost of your repairs down and allows more people to race an entire season.”

All of this was enough to convince Jackson to move over to the popular TrophyLite class. As a father of three teenagers and a business owner, TrophyLite has allowed him to stay competitive without having to be gone all the time pre-running. Plus, it was a fun, low-cost alternative to any other classes he had researched.

Once Jackson took ownership of his new TrophyLite R-4, we brought it right into our studio in Anaheim, California, to get a closer look.

When it comes time to choose an engine, buyers are given two choices: 2.2L GM Ecotec or a 2.0L Ford Zetec. These engines must be sealed by TrophyLite to ensure that competitors are not changing or modifying parts for any reason. After weighing out his options, Todd Jackson went the route of GM and had the 200hp four-cylinder placed into his R-4. Completing the powertrain is a GM Turbo 350 that was modified by Culhane Racing Transmissions and features a TrophyLite billet tailshaft.

Trophylite R-4
Engine: GM 2.4L Ecotec VVT
Builder: Sealed and dyno’d by Redline Performance
Max Horsepower: 200 hp
Max Torque: 190 lb-ft
Modifications: K&N air filter
Induction: Stock GM fuel injection system
Transmission: GM Turbo 300 modified by Culhane Transmissions with TrophyLite billet tailshaft conversion and mandated TCS billet torque convertor

Front:TrophyLite dual A-arms with 18 inches of wheel travel, Fox 3.0 three-tube bypass and 2.5 dual-rate coilovers, unit bearing hub
Rear: TrophyLite laser-cut four-link with 18 inches of wheel travel, Fox 3.0 three-tube bypass and 2.5 dual-rate coilover

CBR-spec TrophyLite three-pass radiator with SPAL 16-inch fan, CBR transmission cooler with SPAL 9-inch fan, CBR custom TrophyLite oil cooler

TrophyLite-spec wire loom by YT Motorsports, installed and finished by Lil Johnny Sicbert

Front: Wilwood D52 Red dual-piston calipers, Wilwood 11.75-inch rotors
Rear Wilwood D52 Red dual-piston calipers, Wilwood 11.75-inch rotors

Wheels: Method TrophyLite-spec MR101 beadlock with matte black powdercoat by Extreme Powdercoat

Tires: 33x12.50R15 General Grabber

Bodywork: Boatec fiberglass TrophyLite spec

Graphics: Sign Pro’s custom lettering

Ben’s Asphalt

Mastercraft carbon-fiber hard-shell seats, Mastercraft harnesses, Lowrance GPS, Racepak gauges, MOMO steering wheel, TrophyLite double-bubble fiberglass dash, aluminum work by Ronn Williams at Victory Race Cars, PCE Kenwood 790 with PCI Comlink

Chassis: TrophyLite R-4
Dimensions: Wheelbase: 111 inches
Overall Length: 192 inches
Overall Height: 73 inches
Track Width: 72 inches
Overall Weight: 3,000 pounds

Additional Information

What really makes Jackson’s R-4 shine is the beautiful paintjob by Ben’s Asphalt and the custom lettering by Sign Pros. The orange and black colorway complement the Boatec fiberglass quite nicely. All tires must be 33x12.50R15 in the TrophyLite class, and whitewalls must be placed out. If you don’t, you will be penalized. Paired up with Jackson’s General Grabbers are TrophyLite-spec Method MR 101 15-inch beadlocks that were given a clean and simple matte black finish, courtesy of Extreme Powdercoat in Hesperia, California.
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