Sidekick Or Superman?
In the comic Superman, Jimmy Olson is a young reporter with red hair and a bow tie that tags along with Clark Kent and has a secret crush on Lois Lane. He probably doesn't own a Jeep; he probably lives at home with his mom and rides a bike to work. We recently caught up with the real Jimmy Olson, though. However, instead of working at the Daily Planet he runs Edgewater Jeep & 4x4 in Denver, Colorado. Not only does Jimmy run a Jeep shop, he also has the coolest ice racing Jeep in Colorado, which he calls Black Ice. Jimmy and his wife, Andrea, race the Jeep in Georgetown, Colorado, with Our Gang Ice Racing.
Jimmy's flatfender sits atop a heavily modified DJ frame. The frame has been boxed and reinforced with an eight-point cage constructed from 13/4-inch, 0.095-wall DOM tubing. The cage was originally built by Jimmy with Rusty Syzmanski ten years ago when Rusty owned the Jeep. At that time, club rules mandated running leaf springs. When the rules were loosened though, Jimmy and Rusty were the first to take advantage of the opportunities and push the sport of ice racing forward. The current suspension consists of Koni coilover shocks and Hypercoil springs front and rear. The Konis allow Jimmy to adjust both the compression and rebound damping independently, which is advantageous depending on the track design for a given ice race. And since Jimmy is one of the course designers, he usually knows exactly what suspension changes are necessary.
The axles are located by rather unconventional wishbone setups at each end. Both ends use straight upper links with a lower wishbone with two mounting points on the frame end and one mount on the axle end. Ground clearance is not an issue in ice racing, so the suspension links can be vertically separated enough to provide proper geometry. The front wishbone is connected from drop brackets on the front of the frame horns to the bottom of the axlehousing, while in the rear the wishbone runs from under the transfer case crossmember to the center of the rear axle. Sway bars from AAI Speed Equipment help the Jeep track flat and level across varied track conditions.
Jimmy races his Jeep in Our Gang's highest category: the Competition Division. Three different sets of tires are used to allow Jimmy and Andrea to race in three different classes and maximize their fun. In the Bare Rubber class, Black Ice runs on Pike's Peak Specials that are also used in the summer for hill climbs. For the Studs Class, Jimmy uses 29x12.50-15 Goodyear Terra tires. The Terra tires have 324 studs per tire, with each stud hand placed. "If you build them right, they will last forever," Jimmy explained, but doing so is as much an art as a science. If the studs are placed too shallow, they will rip out. If they are too deep, they don't provide good traction. More custom labor goes into building tires for the Cheater Class, which start as standard 205/60-15 street tires to which 98 11/2-inch long bolts are ground to a point and added to each tire to allow the Jeep to accelerate faster than a speeding bullet.
Black Ice is powered by a 406 ci small-block Chevy that was balanced and blueprinted by F&M Performance in Wheatridge, Colorado. The stock 400 ci V-8 was bored 0.30-over and the stock two-bolt mains were converted to splayed four-bolt caps for added strength. The internals feature a steel crank, 6-inch H-beam rods, Wiseco forged pistons, and a Crower roller cam. Atop the block, the Brodix aluminum heads are filled with Crower 1.6:1 roller rockers, 2.08 intake valves, and 1.60 exhaust valves. An Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold was port-matched to the heads and topped with a Holley HP 750 carburetor. The air and fuel are lit by an MSD Pro-Billet distributor and 7AL-2 ignition with a 7,400 rpm rev limiter.