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1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ - Building An "Everyman" TJ: Part 3

Ready for Action

Christian LeePhotographer, Writer

We featured the beginning stages of Off Road Evolution's Discount Tire EVO TJ build in the August and September issues and here's the finished product. The 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ, dubbed EVO TJ, was built to compete in the 2012 King of the Hammers Everyman Challenge, as well as a handful of Ultra 4 races throughout the 2012 and 2013 race seasons. The Off Road Evolution race team has campaigned two vehicles at the events. Its EVO 1 JK four-door competed in the KOH main event and took on the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race.

EVO TJ made it to the KOH compound the night before race day with no time to spare and the crew spent a mostly sleepless night finishing last-minute preparations. A transmission issue frustratingly reared its ugly head during the morning's warm-up runs and EVO TJ was left without reverse gear at the start of the Everyman Challenge. Mel Wade, Off Road Evolution owner and principle driver of EVO TJ, took the gamble and made the start time anyway, holding strong in the pack and advancing until a charging issue led to a small fire a few hours into the race. The flames were extinguished but not before the battery was melted beyond use. By the time the team's chase crew arrived on scene with another battery and further damage was assessed, they had no choice but to head back to the pits and take the DNF. Lessons learned? Desert racing is unforgiving, preparedness is paramount, and you don't need no stinking reverse gear if you go forward fast enough!

Check out the following photos showing the finished product. You can also view more EVO TJ pictures, as well as other articles that appear in the magazine, on our website at 4wdmag.com.