Big-block TJ Jeep Wrangler Laughs in the Face of Danger

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Does this LSX-powered TJ on giant tractor tires have what it takes to get to the end of a hardcore Louisiana mud bog?

The town of Zwolle, Louisiana recently hosted the Zwolle St. Jude Fall Festival, a family-friendly event full of games, live music, food, arts and crafts, and what you see here: a mud bog. Proceeds benefited the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Participants didn’t need to show up with a certain brand of vehicle. They just needed to bring one with plenty of grunt and grip. This TJ Jeep Wrangler, aka Depth Finder, has plenty of both.

According to the Youtube channel ROCKWELL OFFROAD, this killer Jeep, nicknamed “Depth Finder,” is “the baddest jeep in the world!!” That’s debatable and depends on your preferences, but we’re sure we can all agree that Depth Finder’s stats are impressive. It’s got an absolutely massive 7.7-liter LSX V8 that produces nearly 1,000 horsepower under its hood, so there’s plenty of grunt on tap. That’s pushed through a two-speed Powerglide automatic and to a set of monstrous tractor tires that are almost 70 inches in diameter. Grip? Check.

jk-forum.com LSX-Powered TJ Jeep Wrangler Mudder

Depth Finder’s driver needs every bit of power and every inch of tread depth for the festival’s mud bog. It’s deep, but it doesn’t hold any sympathy for the wheelman’s ego or pride. He and a buddy rocket into the muddy water, sending up a huge spray of brown muck. The pair almost makes it to the end. Near the finish line, Depth Finder’s back end digs in. After that, Depth Finder just spins its giant wheels in reverse in an attempt to get somewhere, even if it’s back the wrong way. The driver eventually succeeds in moving backward and takes another shot at the hardest part of the bog. He gets a little further down the course than he did with his first attempt.

jk-forum.com LSX-Powered TJ Jeep Wrangler Mudder

The driver rolls his window down, revealing that he’s just as filthy as his rig. The mud in his eyes doesn’t prevent him from seeing a way out, though. By riding the edge of the bog and carefully applying throttle, he’s able to claw his way out of the pit.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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