If you are familiar with King of the Hammers or Ultra4 racing, you are most likely familiar with Lasernut Racing. The beautiful Armada IFS rock crawler with its reflective blue roof and copper wheels can hardly go unnoticed in the rocks. But what also hardly goes unnoticed is Lasernut’s contribution to the off road industry as one of the top laser cutting and manufacturing companies cutting and manufacturing parts. Located in the heart of Southern California, Lasernut owner Cody Waggoner invited Race-Dezert out for a tour of their 40,000 square foot facility and race shop.
What is Lasernut? It is a division of IPE – (Industrial Process Equipment) specializing in manufacturing powder coating equipment for many different clients, started in 1984. Lasernut came to be after Cody’s dad acquired a laser to cut sheet metal in 2006, and after weeks of figuring out how to work it, Cody saw an opportunity. At the time, he was competing in rock crawling and approached his sponsors to contract work and even sent out a few postcards as marketing collateral. One thing led to another, and they landed a job with a few companies, and one of those was their biggest client at the time – Fabtech.
Cody’s eagerness to learn and provide more value to his clients led him to learn how to bend and weld just out of pure necessity. They weren’t just cutting metal now, someone could send them CAD files, and they would be able to manufacture that part and have it ready for production. From brackets, suspension, exhaust flanges, and even bumpers, Lasernut would go on to be a one-stop-shop for production.
2020 was a hard year for most industries, but the outlier remained the outdoor and off road industry as people refused to stay inside and wanted to get outside and explore. This led to parts flying off the shelves at many off road retailers. As demand increased, Lasernut had to ramp up production to 90 full employees running operations seven days a week, nearly 24 hours a day running five laser machines. They even have a robot welder working for them.
The Sky Lounge is where all designing and project management takes place in the office sitting above the shop. From quoting projects, tinkering on new designs, and creating new concepts, this is where Lasernut makes it all happen before it gets sent to production. Lasernut provides project consultations on parts and will work hand in hand with its customers to provide everything from prototypes and pre-production evaluations to revisions and final product development.
One of the most extraordinary things we saw while we were there was a 2D scanner that if you lay a part down on the glass, it will scan the part and replicate it into a file that they can take to the laser cutting machines to have the part reproduced in no time. This would be useful if a client had not taken measurements of the part and saves hours of reverse engineering it.
Cody and his family have had a huge involvement in the off road industry since the early days of rock crawling competing in various competitions throughout the years. They were so involved they even purchased property just outside of King of the Hammers. If you have been to Johnson Valley and you see a compound with containers, then that is it. The Lasernut compound acts as a place for them to set up a home base during King of the Hammers and any other rock crawling they do out there – this only amplifies their level of commitment and passion for rock crawling.
As time went on and the family grew the business, they would purchase a Bomber Chassis and go race Ultra4 in the 4600 unlimited class, but by 2015 they realized that they would need a new car to compete at the highest level if they wanted to win. Cody reached out to one of their clients and truck builder Armada Engineering to commission a custom independent front suspension (IFS) rock crawler. At the time, this was relatively new technology in Ultra4 and what they came up with was nothing short of incredible. A 600 horsepower IFS is attached to gear reduction portals allowing for higher ground clearance and 24″ of wheel travel. Needless to say, this rock crawler is insane and has the recipe to compete at the highest level. The Ultra 4 car sat there amidst a teardown as it gets ready for a fresh prep for the next race.
While we were visiting the race shop just a few blocks from their HQ, we also were able to check out his moon buggy – a single-seat rock crawler on 42″ tires powered by a turbo Ecotec engine and rear steer. He demonstrated that this little buggy could climb a shipping container without any fuss end even a rear steer burnout. This type of rock crawler is used for slow and more technical rock crawling where the spotter is actually on the outside of the vehicle the entire time. The shop was full of old race memorabilia and served as a reminder of what Lasrnut loves the most – racing.
As racing is just a fragment of what most businesses do in the racing scene, Lasernut is no exception. Cody and his dedicated team are constantly innovating in manufacturing technology to exceed their customer’s expectations in the off road industry. Whether you need exhaust flanges laser cut, bumpers cut and welded, or even custom projects, Lasernut is deeply rooted in the off road industry and is willing to do whatever it takes to go above and beyond for their clients.