Two months before the 2020 King of the Hammers, Tony Pellegrino decided to enter his LS V8-powered Jeep Wrangler JKU (nicknamed the Terremoto) in the Unlimited 4400 Class. His reason?
“We did this to prove a Jeep is built from all GenRight Off Road off-the-shelf parts (or its industry partners) can finish King of the Hammers with products that any Jeep Wrangler owner can buy,” Pellegrino said.
GenRight was founded by Pellegrino in 2006. Headquartered in Simi Valley, California, the company specializes in racing quality American-Made Jeep products for on- or off-road Jeep drivers. GenRight manufactures both steel and aluminum parts for the 1976 Jeep CJ7 through 2020 Jeep Wrangler JLU and new Jeep Gladiator.
“We finished 2.5 hours before the deadline (14 total hours) where we beat 73 purpose-built Unlimited 4400 off-road race cars in a Jeep. This was the first time this feat was accomplished in a street-legal, full-bodied Jeep Wrangler JKU.”
“Me and my co-driver, Nick Repanich entered a street-legal GenRight Off Road-built 2013 Jeep Wrangler JKU into the Unlimited 4400 Class of Ultra4 Racing’s King of the Hammers race,” Pellegrino added. “The race consists of three different laps: Lap 1 was 77 miles of desert racing, Lap 2 was 67 miles of desert racing and 11 rock crawling trails, Lap 3 was 69 miles of desert racing and 13 rock crawling trails; the race takes place in the most brutal terrain of the Mojave desert called Johnson Valley, which is world-famous for its Hammer Trails. One-hundred-and-five top drivers from around the world came to race each other and attempt to conquer the King of the Hammers. The race is so tough, in the 12 years of the race, less than a third of the participants actually finish.
“Our #4485 GenRight Jeep started 86th off the starting line and battled its way through the rough desert terrain and rock trails to finish 32nd out of a total of the 44 vehicles that finished,” Pellegrino said. “We finished 2.5 hours before the deadline (14 total hours) where we beat 73 purpose-built Unlimited 4400 off-road race cars in a Jeep. This was the first time this feat was accomplished in a street-legal, full-bodied Jeep Wrangler JKU.”
Equipped with GenRight Off Road aluminum bumpers, fenders and rocker guards, the Terremoto’s armor sustained little damage, with the exception of the rocker guards from a trail called Hell to Pay on the final lap. GenRight Off Road built a new roll cage kit to make a Jeep Wrangler JKU pass tech inspection, which included additional tubing to the two-inch GenRight Off Road Roll Cage, a bladdered fuel cell, window nets, rear light bar, number plates and catch cans to prevent fluids from being spilled. This Jeep also featured GenRight Off Road’s ELITE Suspension system featuring 3.0 FOX Internal Bypass coil-over shocks and Currie Enterprises Axles allowed the suspension to work flawlessly at 105 mph across Emerson Dry Lake bed, and at a slower pace through the rock trails such as Bender Alley, Wrecking Ball, Outer Limits, and Chocolate Thunder. The massive waterfall descend on Backdoor was never an issue and the Terremoto dropped down it gracefully, unlike some of the other competitors that ended up rolling upside down.
“The next day we led over 100 Jeeps on the 9th Annual KOH Experience in the same Jeep,” Pellegrino added. “This gave fans the chance to drive 20 miles of the actual racecourse the day after the main Unlimited 4400 race and listen and ask questions about how the race went for us and the Terremoto. The Jeep Wrangler JKU ran flawlessly through the 20 miles of racecourse leading the group to a catered lunch at a remote location.”