Jimmy's 4x4: Building More Than Just Buggies
When you walk into the Jimmy’s 4x4 Off-Road Shop, it’s a common mistake for visitors and potential customers to expect to talk to a guy named "Jimmy". It’s nothing that Randy Rodd, the owner of the shop, isn’t used to... Born and raised in Cortez, Colorado, Randy started working with his father, Jim Rodd, at Jimmy’s Transmissions before deciding to pursue other interests. His father, in an attempt to lure him back into the business, offered to help him start an off-road shop. Randy was uncertain about the proposal until he attended the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, UT where he saw some of the modified jeeps and got his first taste of true fabrication work. Having sparked an interest, he started Jimmy’s Outback, which was conveniently located right behind his father’s shop. While Randy is admittedly not the biggest fan of jeeps, that’s where the industry was originally at. As time progressed, jeeps were being chopped to the point where there was nothing OEM left about them - which got Randy to thinking that building vehicles from scratch would make the process easier as well as increasing customization options...appealing even more to off-road enthusiasts. A booming business, combined with the rapid growth of the off-road racing scene, convinced Randy to move away from the standard bent tube chassis towards the laser notched and CNC built tube chassis. For Randy, using this technology was both the way of the future and the direction the industry was moving towards. NASCAR had already made the transition as well as trophy truck and short course off-road racers. Some outsiders have accused the Jimmy’s shop of putting out cookie cutter rigs, but that is far from the truth. Every buggy that leaves the shop is different and each has identifiable characteristics. Randy points to the current single seater IFS car, the first of it’s kind, that they are building for Loren Healy. On the opposite end of the spectrum, they just started a new car for Derek West who wanted to race a car that the everyday person could go out and buy. Derek’s car is going to be the prototype of a buggy that Jimmy’s hopes sell to the public in the near future. Today, Jimmy’s Outback has transformed into Jimmy’s 4x4 Off-Road Shop. They are home to some of the most successful Ultra4 teams including 2012 Ultra4 Series champion, Nick Nelson, 2014 King of the Hammers champion, Loren Healy and multi-time Ultra4 series winner, Derek West. It is a self-proclaimed full service shop offering everything from parts, service, custom fabrication and expert advice. For Randy, moving into the current 8,000 sq. foot shop nearly two years ago is one of his proudest achievements. This inspired him to want to grow the business and made him believe that he could control his own future. Thinking back, he never dreamed that he would one day fill the current facility up, let alone have plans for expansion. The success of the buggies that have come out of Jimmy's 4x4 have resulted in plans to break ground on another 8,000 sq. foot building that will be used as a production house shop. Randy wouldn't be where he is today without his wife and fellow Ultra4 driver, Cottin Rodd. Having known each other since they were thirteen years old, they've had quite the adventures and have gone through many of life's ups and downs together. Looking back, one of Randy's favorite builds was the car he built for Cottin that kicked off her racing career. It was a chopped up jeep they nicknamed 'Black & Blue.' While Cottin has had to step back from competition due to personal reasons, their relationship is as strong as ever. Becoming a part of the Jimmy’s race team is a process. One must start at the bottom and work their way up the ladder. They offer different levels of support starting with their national associate team. As of July 2013, Jimmy’s has built more than 200 chassis that are currently in use. They offer these individuals the best of products, great tires and the replacement parts that keep them running. Depending on what their aspirations are and if they would like to start racing competitively, Jimmy’s can offer to move them up to the factory team. If they show promise at this level, the next step up is the Pro Team, which includes a full support system. Looking forward, Randy hopes to add a full support transporter that shows up to each event. The rig would be outfitted with anything and everything each team would need including welders, tire machines and tools. For Randy, the Pro Team offers as much to him as he offers to them. He values the input he receives from Loren, Derek and Nick and uses it to improve the products that he offers to the public. Safety is something very important to Randy, so much so that he's willing to put it ahead of speed and performance. Forming close bonds with each of his drivers, Randy takes to heart that they're putting their own lives at risk each and every time they strap into one of his buggies. It’s this sense of responsibility that helps build the rave reviews for all the buggies coming out of Jimmy's 4x4 and it makes it that much more special when a Jimmy's driver wins, like Loren Healy just did at the 2014 King of the Hammers. Despite their great track record and having won almost every major event in the Ultra4 series, Randy still feels like his racers are the underdogs. That’s okay with him though because more than any race win or championship, it’s the relationships that mean the most. The entire Jimmy’s team is a close-knit group and like extended family members. Loren Healy was actually one of his first customers and the very first buggy to leave the shop - it’s this sense of pride and loyalty that keeps Randy going. He’s got a great group of inspired people that love what they do.