RJ: We’re so excited to feature you today, both as a business owner and a racer. How did you get started in the off-road industry?
CJ: I’ve always been an explorer, seeking adventure. In high school, I got into mountain biking. When I got my first SUV almost 20 years ago, I took it on the same trails I biked on and got stuck a few times. So then I had to modify it, put on a winch and bigger tires. It was a Nissan, and there wasn’t much aftermarket support, so with the help of a Jeep builder friend I designed and started fabricating parts for it. I joined a local 4×4 club and made instant friends with like-minded people. As a club, we went on monthly off-roading trips. Then some of us, including myself, got into competitive rock crawling, and off-road racing. Five years ago I had the opportunity to purchase a business in the off-road industry – and jumped on it!
RJ: You’ve done a variety of types of off-road racing. What draws you to those various challenges?
CJ: The challenge itself! It’s testing your vehicle, that you’ve designed and built, your driving skills and your mental stamina – in the most extreme conditions.
RJ: Tell us about Torq-Masters, both the business and the products. How did you discover a need in the off-road market for this product? What new products/updated products/featured products should readers be aware of this year.
CJ: Torq-Masters was founded in 2003 and had one awesome product line, the Aussie Locker, a mechanical locking differential. I ran Aussie Lockers in my Jeeps for years and years. In 2014, I purchased the company and since then we’ve released the TORQ Locker, the big brother to the Aussie Locker, I’ve designed new products for Polaris Differentials, we’ve developed new TORQ Locker models for Jeeps, trucks and now we’ve branched out into other markets like powersports.
Last year we launched our Infinity Series Chromoly Axel shafts for Jeeps that offer a lifetime warranty. Any vehicle with an open differential, that wants additional traction, is a potential for Locker. In 2019, we are branching out again into new markets with our TORQ Locker design, including Subaru’s and tractors.
RJ: Not only are you a business owner and racer, but you’re also an effective marketer and networker. You know everyone, and are amazing at putting people together to help each other. How did you develop those skills, and how have you fostered them over the years?
CJ: I am super passionate about off-roading, exploring, design, fabrication and engineering – I geek out about all of this. It turns out there are a ton of other like-minded people out there, and I love to meet them and talk shop! Through social media we are exposed to so many amazing people, there’s just so much out there to absorb and inspire me. As a marketer, I use my design skills to create a visual language and I am consistent. As an enthusiast, I am my own demographic. I know what I want to see, what entertains me, so that’s what we deliver, and we always try to step it up. We are involved in the local entrepreneur scene, we attend continuing education classes and we watch a lot of YouTube/read blogs to learn new marketing and media skills.
RJ: Tell us about the Torq Locker Jeep. How many miles/changes in elevation has it seen this past year?
CJ: Our TORQ Locker Jeep is a 2005 Wrangler Unlimited – the “LJ.” It was a limited edition model with a longer wheel base which makes it one of the most preferred Jeeps for rock crawling and racing. We built it to race “the hardest one day off-road race in the world,” the King of the Hammers, Stock Class, and we’ve raced it twice. I’ve also competed in the Rebelle Rally with the TORQ Locker Jeep, a 2000 km, 7 day, women only navigation rally. We’ve put thousands of road miles and off-road miles on the Jeep. This winter we are swapping in a LS motor and adding 40″ sticky tires!
RJ: What’s a dream race that you hope to do or to participate in again?
CJ: The Dakar race in Peru is on my bucket list for sure – I love rally-style racing, sand dunes, mountains and the awesome variety of vehicles that race this event.
RJ: What challenges have you found as a women in the off-road world? And how have you taken those challenges and used your solutions to help other women in the industry?
CJ: I’ve never believed in, or really fit into any stereotypes, I just do what I love and love what I do, and like minded people tend to respect that. I’ve seen and experienced bias in the automotive world for sure, but that breaks down once you speak intelligently and find that common passion for, in our world, automotive. When speaking to other women in the industry we all have stories and can laugh at them together. Dealing with any type of customer service, over the years, you grow a thick skin. My advice to women is to show your integrity, grit and passion, everyday.