The all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator – the most capable midsize truck ever – is going racing at this year’s Every Man Challenge during the King of the Hammers Desert Off-road race. Savvy Off-Road, an aftermarket shop based in Corona, California, is handling competition preparations, bringing expertise gained while earning the overall win at five consecutive Every Man Challenges from 2012 to 2016, and again in 2018.
Legendary and versatile racing driver Robby Gordon, who boasts a decades-long racing career in the desert, NASCAR, IndyCar and many road racing series, and two-time King of the Hammers champion Erik Miller will handle driving duties, competing in the Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class. Gordon will be tasked with the high-speed portions of the course, while Miller will demonstrate Gladiator’s unmatched off-road capability in the tight rock sections of the famed Hammers trails. The race takes place February 6 at 8 a.m. PST in Johnson Valley, California. Behind the wheel of the Jeep Gladiator, Miller set the fastest time in the 4600 class yesterday on the two-mile qualifying course, besting the next closest competitor by more than 10 seconds.
“Jeep has been attending King of the Hammers for many years, listening to, observing and engaging the group of hardcore off-road enthusiasts who gather there,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Jeep Brand – North America. “The all-new Jeep Gladiator’s high-speed locker protocol is a direct outcome of their input. So we figured even though we haven’t built the first customer unit yet, why not bring it out and put it to the test at this ultimate proving ground – the toughest one-day off-road race in the world?”
All vehicles competing in the Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class of the King of the Hammers Every Man Challenge are required to utilize a factory engine, stock frame and body, a single shock at each wheel and 35-inch tires.
The all-new Jeep Gladiator is powered by the award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, rated at 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, with Engine Start Stop (ESS), and mated to a standard six-speed manual or an optional eight-speed automatic transmission. Gladiator is the latest in a long line of tough, dependable Jeep trucks with a body-on-frame design that uses advanced materials and engineering to be lightweight yet stiff and durable, and features an all-new high-strength steel frame.
Savvy Off-Road created a custom link-and-coil suspension with Fox remote reservoir shocks, and added Dynatrac 60 front and rear axles, beadlock wheels with 35-inch Falken Wildpeak M/T tires, a winch and a safety cage. Gladiator Rubicon’s “Redical Red” interior remains relatively unchanged, though Sparco racing seats have been added and rear seats have been removed.