Building A Stadium Rock Sidekick On A Club Band Budget – Finale’.
Editor: Eric Bewley Story/Photo: Mike Hagen
COTTAGE GROVE, MN – We started this project with our goal was to see how far we could take a TracKick while retaining mostly stock drive train. Our secondary goal was to have it built in 7 build days. That would have been possible if we had not fallen in love with the project. As we got further into it we couldnt justify cutting corners just to hit our deadline. Our total build ended up closer to 14 days. As you can see from the final result, we think it was worth it.
Our goal to keep it on the cheap worked out pretty well. We did retain most of the stock drive train, which helped save a lot of money. Most of our mods were removing something or relocating something.
For the front suspension we kept the stock coils with a 1½-coil spring spacer. The tie rods were flipped to bring our tie rod angle back to stock. The Calmini Anvil had the perfect drop for our setup. It put our CVs at stock angle also. We widened the front to clear the Toyota CVs that we had installed with a kit that Stan, a friend of mine, made. I wont elaborate on this since you will hear more on this in the near future.
For the rear suspension the stock links were lengthened and a set of Calmini 3 inch coils that we bought from a friend were added. The rear wasnt sitting as high as we had planned after the spare was installed so we added a 1-½ inch spacer to the rear as well.
With the Rock star coming together so well Dan was really seeing the potential. Besides the fact that hindsight being 20/20 we had thought of better ways to streamline the process. 12 days before memorial weekend we built another in its likeness. The only major difference was to be Dan wanted to retain doors to keep out the bulk of the weather and his budget wouldnt be so tight. Unfortunately my camera malfunctioned and most of the buildup pics of this are gone. Our second buildup we called Operation Porn star since Rock stars and Porn stars seem to mesh so well! The build was very similar but some extra help from some friends Stan Bonngard and Grant Peterson who most know as Chunk. The Porn star also got power steering, which I think was a good idea. The Rock star will get that soon to. Heres a couple pics of the Porn star on the way to paint. On the trail we were really impressed with how well they worked on their first run. I was really expecting to have some major bugs to work out after such a build. This was not the case. The extended wheelbase really helped on the steep stuff.
These rigs felt so nimble on the trail we were kind of shocked when we got over to the RTI ramp. The RTI scores were not that great. Proof again that a RTI score just measures flex, not the ability of a rig. So next we decided to do a stability test. How far up the ramp we could go without flopping it over? Backwards we couldnt, we maxxed out the ramp. We are going to play with some softer springs in the front and stiffer shocks in the rear to see if we can make it any better than it already is. On the trail everything felt good but when on the RTI ramp we could clearly see the front coils are too stiff. However we were surprised how far we could go up the ramp with one tire dangling. It was really off camber when I quit.
We had anticipated it to be a really good jumper but as it turns out its really hard to get off the ground. Im assuming its the wheelbase.
We stuck firmly to our nothing but the necessities plan. Weight reduction was high on the list of priorities. We even went back and asked ourselves why we had retained the tailgate, since it wasnt necessary, it was removed. In the end with all our trail gear, tools, full size spare, and gas, we came in at 2302 lbs.
Now it was time to find the weak link. Fortunately, this was not that easy to do. We thought the weak link would either be the welded rear diff or the rear axle shafts since the front had been so improved. As it would turn out it was very difficult to break anything at all. We wheeled the project hard for five days straight over Memorial weekend, took it to two more local weekend events, and finally went to Zukimelt in the Badlands Off road park. Besides having a great time at this great event for Suzuki enthusiasts, we took second place in the rally race and pulled first place in the Rock Rage event. Our failures did finally surface though while hitting the trails at the Badlands. First, a clutch cable failed and then shortly after that we broke a left front CV. All in all, this is not too bad considering the ridiculous punishment this project vehicle took during almost two solid weeks of wheeling. Both repairs took less than 10 minutes and we were on the trail again. Cheap, simple, and easy, exactly what this project was all about.
Current specs are as follows.
Vehicle: 91 Geo Tracker
Type: 8 valve 1.6 liter
Aspiration: Calmini Header through 2 inch glasspack
Transmission: 5 speed
Transfer Case: 4.23 to 1 Calmini Rockrawler with Rocky Road 2 low kit
Front: 1 ½ inch Coil spring spacers- Strut plate flip-frame chop
Rear: Stock arms lengthened 8 inches Calmini 3 inch lift coils-frame chop
Shocks: Dodge Durango rear shocks
Front: Calmini Anvil front diff -Detroit locker- Stans Toyota CV upgrade
Rear: Stock Tracker Welded
WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels: 15×12 American Racing Black 767
Tires: 35-14.50-15 Pitbull Rockers
Racing seats-Optima battery-roll cage