Story By Travis Noack
You can usually tell a lot about an off-road enthusiast by looking over his four-wheel-drive pride and joy. The color of the paint, type of suspension set up that establishes the stance, and the sounds that emit from the tailpipes when the fun key is cranked says a lot about an off-road guy’s personality.
For Adam Arsenault of San Marcos, California, his Detonator Yellow, heavily modified Jeep YJ Wrangler is a rock-scrambling representation of his full-throttle persona. He is an active duty Marine and a life-long Jeep fan. That should tell you something.
It all began at an early age when Adams’ Dad introduced him to the world of 4×4’s and some of the great places they were designed and built to go. In fact there has never been a vehicle in the Arsenault family minus a transfer case. Suffice it to say that if there was a 4×4 trail that would get them where they need to go, they would take the dirt any day over asphalt.
At the age of 15, Adam purchased his first Jeep: It was a ’79 CJ7, and since then a total of six more Jeeps have followed including one CJ5, three CJ7’s and two YJ Wranglers. Now that we have painted a picture of the man behind the wheel and under the race helmet, let’s examine the machine.
Arsenault built the Jeep to compete in the Ultra4 Racing Modified Class (4500). After competing in 2011 in the series with his recreational trail Jeep, it was clear that a dedicated race Jeep was needed to take it to the next level. In early 2012 Arsenault departed for another combat tour in Afghanistan and enlisted Scott Watkins at Dirt-Fab Racing to go to work on the Jeep and make it race-ready.
Watkins dug up a YJ frame from a local wrecking yard and it was time to go to work building the ultimate bones for race and rock duty. The engine, transmission, transfer case, and a pair of Dana 60 axles came from Arsenaults’ parts stash for a rock buggy project he had planned to build, but never got around to.
The YJ frame rails were left intact to conform to 4500 class rules, but a custom 4-link rear suspension and 3-link wishbone front were added with Eibach coils and FOX 2.5 Remote Reservoir coil-over shocks front and rear.
Fourteen-inch FOX triple bypass shocks supplement the rear suspension. All of this bad-ass suspension trickery handles any terrain Adam can throw at the Jeep, while max articulation taps out on FOX 2.0 bump stops.
After Dirt-Fab Racing modified and suspended the chassis, a Barnes 4WD YJ skid plate was installed along with a PSC Motorsports steering box, and 17×9.5-inch Raceline RT231 Monster Beadlock wheels mounted on BFGoodrich 37×12.50×17 Krawler tires.
To make proper use of this wildly modified underbelly, of course the stock YJ drivetrain had to head out. In its place went a fully prepped LS1 427 7.0-L built by Monte Woodard at Machine-Tech Racing in Oceanside, California, and tuned by Turn-Key Engine Supply, also of Oceanside. The LS was stuffed with Manley H-beam rods, a 4340 4-inch-stroke crankshaft, and topped with 5.3-L truck heads and an LS2 intake manifold with a Holley 90mm DBC throttle body. Fueling is provided by a GM-Delphi MEFI-4 system.
The fuel-injected fire breather huffs and puffs with a set of custom made headers by Dirt-Fab Racing that deliver octane cocktails to a duet of Dynomax Race Bullet mufflers. For the off-road beating this takes, a three-quart Accusump oil accumulator was installed, along with a Griffin oil cooler and SPAL fan.
A 180-amp alternator keeps the power flowing, while a Griffin aluminum radiator with dual SPAL fans keeps the engine chilled. The dirt slinging LS drinks from a JAZ 32-gallon fuel tank fit with AllTech Motorsports baffles and dual in-tank fuel pumps.
Putting the power to the hard-packed playground of choice is a Turbo 400 built by Steve Culhane at Culhane Racing Transmissions in Lake Elsinore, California. A reverse manual valve body with shift kit is forcefully commanded by a Winters shifter with a “rock gate” pattern. A JB Conversions LoMax NP205 Transfer case with 32 SPL outputs and twin-stick cable shifters splits the power to axles.
Custom 1350 driveshafts connect the mechanical dots to an ‘83 GM 1-ton 4×4 truck Dana 60 axle up front and a Dana 60 out of a 1995 Ford E-350 van in the rear. A pair of 4.88:1 spools fill both the front and rear pumpkins. OEM disc brakes bring the Jeep to a halt, taking direction from a Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve.
Complimenting all of this spline-folding horsepower are some subtle exterior enhancements that tip the scales in the custom direction. The absence of bumpers provides a clear view of the wicked suspension trickery while a WARN winch sits up front for those just-in-case moments. Two Rigid LEDS lamps light the way up front with a fiberglass high-line fender hood from 4 Wheelers Supply in Phoenix that stretches the style back.
A cut down cowl panel from a fiberglass YJ replacement tub throws the eye, while custom aluminum door and rear fender panels lend the perfect race touch. The custom BroadSword logo was designed by Will Gentile at Heavy Metal Concepts with the vinyl graphics designed and installed by Natalie Schorns at SignArt Graphix in Vista, California.
Climbing into the tub of this off-road masterpiece you’ll find it’s all business with a 2-inch by .120-wall DOM main cage and a plethora of Auto Meter Pro Comp instruments. A Lowrance HDS-5 GPS unit keeps Arsenault and crew on course. Also on board are a Rugged Radios intercom and 50W VHF race radio, dual battery and master kill switch, winch battery selector switch and kill switch, and a large air filter mounted in the cab for cleaner and cooler airflow.
To conform to the Modified Class (4500) rule book demanding the vehicle maintain some form of mechanical steering, Watkins at Dirt-Fab Racing built a custom bell-crank steering system to mimic old desert race technology that provided maximum front suspension travel with the absence of bump steer.
Arsenault was quick to point out that at the time of this photo shoot the Jeep was still not completed for the early February 2014 King Of the Hammers race, and that a fuel cell fill neck, engine/oil pan skid plate, rear shock mounting plate, shoulder harness mounts and a Morse throttle cable were next to be installed.
He also made a point of thanking Scott Watkins of Dirt-Fab Racing, and his family, for all the hard work and late nights put into building the Jeep. Much of the build was coordinated almost exclusively through e-mail while Adam was deployed 12,000 miles away in Afghanistan. Watkins dedicated himself to the build and even sacrificed time with his family and on his own projects to complete Arsenaults’ KOH project.
BroadSword Racing has been actively competing in off-road racing events since 2010. The team is based out of northern San Diego, and is made up primarily of active-duty Marines. The race Jeep will make its debut at the 2014 Smittybilt Everyman Challenge during the 2014 King Of the Hammers. Arsenaults’ awesome dirt-slinging rock racer is proof positive that true vision and the right people can make hard work pay off.
And in case you’re wondering what the slogan “Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam” written along the side of the Jeep means, that’s Latin, and it translates as “I shall either find a way or make one.” It’s a phrase that has been attributed to Hannibal when his generals told him it was impossible to cross the Alps by elephant in order to march on Rome. It is also a motto used by Combat Logistics Battalion 24 in the United States Marine Corps.
For more photos of Adam Arsenault’s KOH Jeep, be sure to see the Gallery below >>>