If you like reading 4×4 magazine profiles of rad off road builds, you’ll quickly notice that northern Nevada is a great nexus of awesome enthusiasts and custom off-road vehicle builders. I noticed this a few years ago that a lot of these articles were under the name Harry Wagner. Also I kept actually seeing the rigs around town. Anyhow, I emailed Harry, bought him a burger, and now we’re pals. He doesn’t necessarily invite me on trail days when Dirt Every Day comes to town, but baby steps.
Anyway, Harry asked me to come make a video about the strange 4600 class race car his friend Jesse was building, and by the time you’re reading this, has built for King Of The Hammers. So I made the trip out to Sparks Nevada to the home and shop of Jesse Haines, professional fabricator, Rock crawler and builder of custom rock buggies.
When I arrived at Jesse’s house I found his expanded garage full of metal tools and an amazing rock buggy with huge tires, rear engine, custom tube chassis portal axles–an amazing piece of craftsmanship and design. But that wasn’t the car I was there to shoot. No, I was there to shoot the shoot CJ-7 looking 4×4 next to it with only half it’s wheels and body panels.
You see, 4600 class is the modified stock class in Ultra 4 Racing. Ultra 4 racing is like Desert Racing mixed with high speed rock crawling. You have to go fast in flat sandy desert, then jam up insane steep rocky impossible 4×4 trails. The flagship event is King of The Hammers and is held every February in Johnson Valley, California.
So back to the rigs. The CJ-7 looking thing isn’t a CJ-7. It’s a Mahindra Roxor. A vehicle made in the USA by an Indian automotive company that has been building vehicles like this for decades. Jesse and Harry were reticent to say it, but this is a licensed CJ-7 that has been in production for many years over seas and is now being built and sold in the US as a UTV, or an off-highway vehicle.
It does in fact use all the same mechanical bits you’d expect of a classic 4×4: solid axles, 4 cylinder engine, manual transmission, transfer case, leaf springs, steel frame. It’s a new execution of an old design. And while that is sometimes used as an insult, in this case, it’s the primary advantage. The only thing really modern(ish) on the Roxor is the 2.5 liter 4 cylinder turbo diesel engine. If you’re not drooling now, just wait.
So, here we go. 4600 class is usually for regular street legal vehicles that have been modified to be super rad. I’m not an expert (obviously), but my understanding is that a 4600 Ultra 4 car would be a super awesome modded 4×4 that any of us would build, wheel or just snap our necks at if we saw it around town. It has to have an original engine, same suspension design and is limited to 35 inch tires and one shock per cylinder. While the Roxor isn’t street legal, it’s certainly a worthy platform to build an awesome 4×4. So Jesse called up the guys at KOH and said, “what if I,” they said, “go for it” and here we are.
Mahidra USA gave Jesse a Roxor to start with and he took the rule book and went to town. What he ended up with is a Roxor with a tube frame, custom leaf spring suspension (legal because it’s still just leaf springs and shocks) and portal axles. Novel suspension and creative solutions to vehicle setup is Jesse’s trademark, so the vehicle, when it hits the starting line will be something truly rad and unique and something we’ll all probably want.
Portal axles are axles with hub ends that hold gear reduction that moves the axis of the hub down relative to the axis of the axle. This gives the vehicle custom gearing as well as increasing the axle clearance. Which is handy when you’re going to drive like stink over humongous boulders.
Harry and Jesse told me that most years only a hand full, and I mean 5 or less, of the 4600 class vehicles IF ANY even finish the race. So in this race of attrition the experience and skill of these two guys is sure to get them on the podium. But anything can happen… I’m rooting for them, and they’ve promised to take me out wheeling with it at Moon Rocks when they bring the trophy home to Sparks.
Anyway, when I left them they were still wrenching with many a sleepless night before the race, which at the time of posting, is 5 DAYS AWAY. How it goes down is something that I’m sure will be covered on the internets, and when they get back, I’ll have them tell the whole story.
Thanks to Matthias Kocher
Matthias Kocher from the YouTube Channel Team 4M Off Road shared some footage for this video. Check out his Ultra 4 Race videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/team4moffroad
Jesse Haines Fabrication
Roxor also provides stock footage for this video Learn more about these cool vehicles at https://www.roxoroffroad.com/
King of The Hammers Live Event
Full Live coverage of King of The Hammers 2019 https://www.ultra4racing.com/uncategorized/koh-week-live-coverage