San Dimas, CA – After three out of six races in the 2013 General Tire Jeepspeed Race Series it’s still anyone’s championship to win. The level of competition has been intense; if you combine the results of both classes, Jeepspeed Challenge, (Class 1700) and Jeepspeed Cup, (Class 3700), five different winners have stood on the podium. When the General Tire Vegas to Reno race rolls around August 15-17, additional bonus points will be in the mix to really shake up the points battle.
To date, 29 Jeepspeed Challenge teams have entered this season. The top 8 in the standings are separated by only 30 points. Leading the way is Rick Randall with 311 points. Rick may be relatively new to Jeepspeed racing but his family’s Jeep racing heritage spans three generations; clear back to the AMC days. Former Jeepspeed Champion Eric Helgeson, (Cherokee) is second in points with 303 followed by the super-fast Todd Jackson, (Grand Cherokee) with 298 points. Class Rookies Brannon, Hoffman and Bolles are running 6th, 8th and 9th respectively in the Jeepspeed Challenge.
The Jeepspeed Cup is just as competitive with a fervent rivalry going on between the V8 Grand Cherokee of Brandon Berge and the turbocharged 6 cylinder Comanche of Bob Mamer. These two unique class 3700 Jeepspeeds are locked in a tight, heavy horsepower battle at every race – http://jeepspeed.com/2013-jeepspeed-race-points.aspx.
Nearly 200 drivers have competed in the General Tire Jeepspeed series since its inception in 2001, 113 in just the past 3 years. It’s no secret why the series is so popular; currently in its 12th year of competition the series has a strong organizing body and clear concise rules. Competitors build their own vehicles to their own design as long as it fits within the basic rules a concept unique to “spec” racing. The series offers the most affordable desert racing opportunity and intense competition at the same time.
Many have ascended from the Jeepspeed ranks to become top performers, even superstars in our sport. Short course hero Casey Currie started with Jeepspeed. Ray Griffith “The Jeepspeed Kid” jumped to Class 1 and Class 1400 after three consecutive Jeepspeed Challenge championships. Ray has become one of the fastest and most feared drivers in the desert.
Jeepspeeder’s Darren Skilton, Skyler Gambrell, Jason La Fortune and Barrie Thompson have all participated in the Dakar Rally. Other Jeepspeed racers have gone on to podium finishes in Trophy Lite, Class 12, Class 10, Class 3 and Class 6. If you can win in the Jeepspeed series you can win anywhere.
How do I race Jeepspeed?
The Jeepspeed series benefits greatly from the fantastic sponsorship and support of many in the Automotive Aftermarket. General Tire has made a huge commitment to the series as the title sponsor starting in 2010 all the way to 2015. The strength of General Tire’s support has given Jeepspeed a wonderful foundation on which to build the popular desert racing series. In return, Jeepspeed has introduced the General tire brand to the close fraternity of Jeep enthusiasts. As a result, thousands of weekend warriors and daily driven Jeeps now sport the familiar General Tire tread pattern.
ATX Series Wheels has re-joined Jeepspeed in 2011 after their sister company American Racing Wheels sponsored the series from its inception in 2001 until 2009. Currie Enterprises, King Shocks, Howe Performance Steering and T&J Performance have been long-time backers of the Jeepspeed series going back to the very beginning. Jeepspeed has attracted valuable sponsorship from leading companies who recognize the value of supporting the Jeep brand through partnering with Jeepspeed. These sponsors include Baja Designs Lighting, Rubicon Express Suspensions, Smittybilt Off Road products, G2 Axle and Gear and PAC Racing Springs. The Jeepspeed series lives up to their promise of supporting both the racers and the companies who support the series.
Many new teams have race Jeeps under construction. Most newcomers to the Jeepspeed Challenge, (class 1700), build the tried and tested classic Jeep Cherokees. Bolt on parts for these lighter Jeeps are readily available and donor Jeeps can be purchased for very reasonable prices. With that said, more Grand Cherokees and Wranglers are joining the fray as well.
The more open Jeepspeed Cup, (class 3700), allows both Jeep and Dodge products and is attracting many new faces. Trucks near completion include a hemi powered four door Wrangler, two Dodge Dakotas, one with hemi power and the other utilizing a Dodge 360 V8, the restored J10 desert truck previously raced by Roger Mears and a V8 Comanche. They will be joining the several V8 Wranglers and Cherokees that are currently racing. With high powered engines, 15 inches of front suspension travel and unlimited rear travel, the 85 inch wide race cars are raising the average speeds considerably.
For racers who care to seek out even more opportunities to race their Jeepspeeds, USAC and Rally America have just included Jeepspeed Classes for the California Rally Series and the Western States Rally championships. Jeepspeeds can run as-is in rallies on private land but must be street legal to participate in rallies with highway transit stages. Jeepspeed racers will appear at the Arizona Extreme Rally Sept 15th in Kingman, Arizona.
The Jeepspeed series resumes August 15-17 at the General Tire Vegas to Reno race, the longest off road race in the United States. We invite you to log on to www.jeepspeed.com where you will find deals on some attractively priced race Jeeps, Jeepspeed news, rules, forums, race results, videos and more.
Photography By: Brian Binkert