It could be easily argued that the annual King of the Hammers race in Southern California’s Johnson Valley is the greatest motorsports event in America. Few other events provide the kind of fan access, camaraderie among contestants, raw power, speed or technical prowess that you’d get at KOH. For those who aren’t in the know, King of the Hammers is the biggest event in the no-holds-barred Ultra4 desert racing series. In this event, competitors are encouraged to flex their imagination to design their idea of the ultimate desert racer/rock crawler with very few rules to limit them.
This incredible event is one of the most difficult and exciting off-roading events in the world with competitors leaving every 30 seconds to traverse a 165-mile course that includes everything from high-speed desert running to extremely technical rock crawling. There is nothing like it anywhere. Finishing this event is challenge enough, with over 80% of the vehicles that enter not making it across the finish line in one piece.
The full King of the Hammers week begins with King of the Motos qualifying and racing. Next up is pre-running of the course and an Ultra4 versus Rock Bouncer shootout competition. After that is the 4 Wheel Parts time trials and qualifying, the exciting King of the Hammers UTV race, and the Smittybilt Every Man Challenge. The main event is of course the Ultra4 King of the Hammers in which the 4400 series buggies battle it out for top honors.
Every year KOH brings some of the world’s biggest and best off-road racing stars such as Shannon Campbell and Casey Currie, and even a few stars from other realms such as Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Jessi Combs from Velocity to try their hand at Johnson Valley’s many challenging routes. While not everyone had great success, they definitely had a great time.
This year Shannon Campbell took home the overall win in an Ultra4 4400 buggy of his own design and construction with a time of 6:46:04. Erik Miller of Miller racing brought his 4400 class buggy home in 4th place. Tony Pellegrino of GenRight Off-Road finished a respectable 11th place overall while MagnaFlow brand ambassador Greg Adler piloted the 32nd rig over the finish line. Casey Currie managed a 40th place finish in the top 4400 class but came in a solid 5th place in the UTV category. Jordan Pellegrino, also of GenRight, finished second in the 4500 class.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. undertook his very first King of the Hammers this year in his epic #Brocky, a built-to-purpose rig constructed by Jimmy’s 4x4 and entered into the 4500 class. Unfortunately for Vaughn, he got into a bit of a tank slapper while attempting a pass during a hill climb section which resulted in him rolling #Brocky and taking him out of the race. Still, out of all the DNF rigs, Vaughn’s might have been the best looking!
The King Of The Hammers race gets better every year with more fans, more entries, and the same humble and friendly attitude that helps make it one of the best events on the motorsports calendar. We can’t wait to see what happens next year!
Photos by Larry Chen and MagnaFlow
We want to extend a special thank you and congratulations to everyone at KOH that ran MagnaFlow: