Off-road racing is a gear-stripping, brake-grinding, suspension-squashing sport. Jim Lambert, president of Lambert Motorsports, knows this all too well. Last year he went through five transmissions on his Ultra4 racing rig, and he plowed into a tree on a forested New England racetrack, destroying the front end of his chassis.
The wear, tear and outright damage that an off-road vehicle sustains over the course of a rough-and-tumble season makes for long weekends and late nights in the shop repairing, reinforcing and re-engineering off-road vehicle components. Lambert had been doing this all by hand, cutting out paper templates in CAD, tracing them onto metal sheets, and hand-cutting each piece. The process was time-consuming and the outcome was often imprecise.
But 16 months ago, when Lambert began building a new Ultra 4 racing rig, he pulled the trigger on purchasing a Torchmate 2X2 machine, one of the most compact and affordable CNC fabricating machines on the market.
Today, he can’t figure out what took him so long.
“I can’t imagine having a race team now without having a Torchmate table,” said Lambert.
Lambert has cut his shop time in half as he builds his second race vehicle, and he doesn’t have to ship out parts to be cut and wait for days for them to be fabricated. And he doesn’t spend hours working hard by hand only to come away with an imprecise product.
Above: The new design for Lambert Motorsports’ Ultra4 rig.
“We used to have our stuff cut by other people, but it took a lot of planning and caused downtime,” said Lambert.
While most of the parts that Lambert cuts out are unique, occasionally he needs to fabricate dozens of the same item. This is when the automation and repeatability of the Torchmate 2X2 saves large chunks of time.
Above: When cutting multiple brackets, the Torchmate system helped save hours of time.
For his new off-road Ultra4 vehicle, Lambert needed dozens of custom trick tabs, brackets, column mounts and other small metal parts. Cutting those parts out by hand would be repetitive, time-consuming and laborious. But the Torchmate machine pumps out dozens of them in minutes.
“Before purchasing the Torchmate machine, we spent weeks building brackets and other custom parts by hand,” said Lambert.
The CNC machine also comes in handy during the drastic modifications that racing teams often undertake to give themselves an edge in an upcoming race, or retrofit their race rig for the particular challenges of a particular race course.
Lambert makes the long trip from New England to the King of the Hammers race in Southern California each year for the highlight of his race season. To prepare for the demanding, high-profile race, Lambert is cutting off the rear half of his Ultra4 vehicle and replacing it with a larger fuel cell and upgraded parts. His Torchmate machine is an invaluable partner in that modification.
Lambert has high hopes for this year’s race season. He plans to spend more time out on the track, now that his race season is not consumed with the tedious work of holding a hand torch and cutting out replacement parts or customized race components.
Above: This roller gets a few steps closer to completion.
“And hopefully this year we will not go through five transmissions,” said Lambert.
Above: The Lambert Motorsports Ultra4 rig is race ready.
For information on Lambert Motorsports, visit: www.lambertmotorsports.com.
For more information about about Torchmate CNC Cutting Systems visit www.torchmate.com.
Story By: David Bunker