While most were making party plans to send off 2014 on New Year’s Eve, Cortez off-road buggy maker Jimmy’s 4x4 was buzzing with work.
Competitive Ultra4 drivers affiliated with the shop, known collectively as Jimmy’s Army, were using their short off-season to finish building their new off-road buggies in preparation for the 2015 King of the Hammers Race next month.
The Ultra4 Race season consists of seven races from December to February, all serving as qualifiers for the King of Hammers, held annually in Johnson Valley, Calif.
Ultra4 Racing is a niche sport with its buggies defined primarily by their four-wheel drive capabilities which makes it easy to climb rocks, dirt and other rugged terrain. The sport’s reach is global and fans are dedicated.
Jimmy’s 4x4, owned by Cottin and Randy Rodd, primarily focuses on building buggies for the recreational market, but over the years, it has become one of the most well-respected names in the realm of Ultra4 racing, drivers say.
“Randy is the big guy in the Ultra4 world,” said driver Derek West, of Springfield, Mo. “Jimmy’s builds more of these (off-road buggies) than anyone else in the industry.”
West came in town on Dec. 26 to start working on his race buggy and expects to be finished in the next few weeks.
Nick Nelson, a driver from Las Vegas, started working on his “trophy truck” at Jimmy’s Cortez shop on Dec. 9 and, like West, plans to race it next month at the King of Hammers.
The body of the truck is a 2015 Chevy race body, he says, but its four-wheel drive capabilities set it apart from most trucks out on the tracks.
“There’s not a truck that exists like this now … trophy trucks typically don’t have four-wheel drive,” said Nelson.
2014 King of Hammers first-place winner and Jimmy’s Army member Loren Healey, of Farmington, will be racing in February, along with West and Nelson.
“We had a great season last year, and are hoping for another one,” said Nelson.
The 2014 Nitto King of Hammers Race is February 6 in Johnson Valley, Calif.