Ryan Builds His Jeep Cherokee XJ Into a Winning 1700 Jeepspeed Class

October 18th, 2010 by admin

jeepspeed 1790For many years I flipped through all the different off road magazines, looking at all the Jeeps and trucks that they would feature. But the pages that would really catch my eye were the stories about the different desert races going on around the states and Mexico. Nothing is cooler than an unlimited Trophy Truck throwing dirt thirty feet in the air, or a Class 11 Volkswagen Beetle bouncing through the desert.

Six years ago, my brother and I decided we would build a car and go race the desert. Because of our relatively small budget, we needed an affordable class to race in so we chose the 1700 Jeepspeed class. The Jeepspeed Challenge is for Jeep Cherokee XJ, Wrangler, and Grand Cherokee models produced from 1984 through 2010 and any other 6-cylinder Jeeps that conform to SCORE International Stock Mini rules.

jeepspeed 1790Class rules require us to use a manufactured suspension. We used the Full Traction 6” long arm performance suspension lift because the control arms use rebuildable rod ends on one end and giant 1” heim joints on the other.

To help control the suspension, we mounted 2.5” triple bypass King Shocks racing shocks with piggyback reservoirs on all four corners. The bypass tubes allow us to fine tune the shock valves externally and the reservoir helps keep the shocks cool.

For the drivetrain, we went with a custom Currie Enterprises Ford 9” rear axle with chromoly 35 spline axles, a full spool, and 5.43 G2 Axle gears. The spool locks both rear wheels together for ultimate traction in the desert sand washes. The front is a trussed G2 Axle Dana 44 axle assembly with chomoly axles, an ARB locker, and 5.38 G2 Axle gears. The ARB locker is a selectable locker that, when turned on, sends 100% of the torque to both front BFG 33X12.50 tires.

jeepspeed 1790In certain races, like the Baja 1000, we race for 30-40 hours straight. When the sun goes down, we rely on our Lightforce HID light. The lights are extremely bright, very lightweight, and draw much fewer amps than a standard light so they don’t strain the alternator.

Since we started racing, the car has had a lot of great race finishes including 1st place in the Jeepspeed Baja 500 challenge in ’07, and 1st in class in the SCORE Tecate Baja 1000 in ’09. We’re always making changes and improvements to the race car, so I’ll keep you updated.

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3 Responses to “Ryan Builds His Jeep Cherokee XJ Into a Winning 1700 Jeepspeed Class”

  1. Earlier in the article you mentioned that the XJ 1700 class was “affordable”. I’m curious, how much money went into the Cherokee featured here? Also, for the labor, did you have it done or did you fab everything yourself?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Hello Matt, The 1700 Jeepspeed class is extreamly affordable when compared to other desert racing classes and has a much larger pay back for podium finishes because of the 20 plus entries every race.

    In the begining we built the 2WD Jeepspeed for $8,000 including the cost of the Jeep, and raced it for a year. We used a trussed factory Dana 44 rear axle, Nextel phones as race radios, and did all the fabrication our selves. It was ruff, but we had a great time.

    Over the years we’ve rebuilt the car using all the best parts described above, converted it to 4WD, and have many times that amount into the car.

    The excitement is worth every penny.


  3. i am buliding 2000 xj right now. i want your opinion on what the best power upgrades would be for the 4.0. Are the typical cold air intake, exhaust and programmer really make a noticeable amount of power increase for the money. And how do u guys that race 4.0 xj keep from over heating. the radiators in the xj are rediculously small. I hope you will respond it would be so helpful. bty. I so dig ur jeep! steve.

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