Welcome back to Shop Showcase, where Off Road Xtreme scours the country in search of off-road shops that you ought to know about. In our last installment, we turned the spotlight on Slee Off Road out in Golden, Colorado. Slee’s bread and butter consists of 80 Series Land Cruisers, and Project Vlakvart was an interesting take on the traditional Land Cruiser project–and that’s putting it mildly!
This week, we’re delighted to bring you yet another awesome shop, this time hailing from Phoenix, Arizona. It’s Elite RaceWorks, specializing in design, fabrication, and maintenance of off-road vehicles. What’s surprising, however, is the fact that for all intents and purposes, this shop is a one-man operation.
At the helm is 24-year-old Ryan Ottersberg, a self-taught fabricator whose early exposure to the trade left a lasting impression: “I was always hanging out at the shop with my Dad. As I grew up, I got more and more interested in the work.”
“All through my teenage years, when I wasn’t busy with school, I was busy building five to six cages a week for side-by-sides,” said Ottersberg. “It was only natural that I wanted to [keep building] the things after I graduated high school.”
Ottersberg founded Elite RaceWorks three years ago, as a company called RaceCo. Over time, he’s honed his craft to the point that he’s drawn in business for projects outside of side-by-sides. One such example is his latest creation, a Class 6100 sand truck that he built in just under five months, and mostly by himself.
It started with a client’s request for a “true front-engine sand truck,” one that could fit a family of four and keep them safe, and go from the dunes of Glamis to the gauntlet that is the Baja 1000 to serve as a suitable pre-runner.
“I did all the work by hand on myself,” explained Ottersberg. “It was true old school–no AutoCAD, no computers, all of it hand-drawn on paper and measured by me.” Soon, the customer had before him a 1.75-inch chrome moly, TIG-welded, full-tube caged chassis with box-plated suspension, eagerly awaiting its drivetrain.
For this and other typical full-custom builds, Ottersberg uses an LS3 engine that he can have tuned up to a whopping 550 HP. “We’ve run this thing at Glamis. At 3,100 pounds, it’s probably the best thing you could run out there, because it weighs as much as a Corvette and still generates loads of horsepower.”
With the LS3 pumping power to the TH400 manual valve body trans out to a 35-spline rear axle, the sand truck is a mighty beast to be reckoned with in its off-road domain. It soaks up massive bumps, holes and rocks in the terrain thanks to beefy system of 2.5-inch King coilovers and 3.5-inch five-tube King bypass shocks–for a total of 23 inches of front wheel travel and 30 inches of rear wheel travel.
Stopping is a fast too, with six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors on all fours. And topping it all off is a lightweight Fiberwerx fiberglass Ford body, giving the truck its Class 6100 look. All of the finishing work was completed by Ottersberg’s like-minded fabricator friend, Tyler Carter.
The truck has been a great success for Ottersberg, and just one example of the fine work the young man is capable of. Regarding future plans, Ottersberg has his sights set on becoming a top builder of Class 6100 and trophy trucks, all while continuing to service his bread-and-butter UTV customers.
“My passion for the off-road industry comes from the love and support that comes from a huge group of people,” he said. Off-roaders are a unique group that treats everyone like family.”
“Also, it brings me a great amount of satisfaction to build quality vehicles that are capable of withstanding the harshest environments in the world and achieving speeds of 120 MPH!”
To find out more about Elite RaceWorks and what one-man-army Ottersberg has coming down the pipeline, take a look at the company website. Photos Courtesy of Elite RaceWorks.