CON­QUER­ING HAM­MERS

Cana­dian tri­als and tribu­la­tions at the King of the Ham­mers

4WDrive - - Contentsissue -

Put King of the Ham­mers on your bucket list. Do it. You will not re­gret it, as this week of rac­ing in the mid­dle of the Mo­jave Desert ev­ery Fe­bru­ary, has some­thing for ev­ery­one.

The first year of KOH in 2006 awarded cases of beer as prizes, but the event has grown yearly to be­come the largest off-road event in the world with 420 reg­is­tered driv­ers in all classes. This year’s 10th KOH was a must stop on any se­ri­ous off-roader’s list. While the main race is only a sin­gle day, “Hammertown” as it’s called, is open for an en­tire week. By Thurs­day, it is a proper town; with roughly twenty to thirty thou­sand peo­ple camped in the desert and more ar­riv­ing for the main event.

One of the best parts of KOH for spec­ta­tors is the fact that Hammertown and the pits are open to ev­ery­one, so fans are wel­come to check out race­cars and chat with their favourite rac­ers, giv­ing this event a fam­ily sort of feel that you don’t get at any other large race.

This year John­son Val­ley tested ev­ery­one’s en­durance and the week lead­ing up to the race was cold, windy and ex­tremely dusty. Rolling into Hammertown on Mon­day morn­ing was like rolling into a ghost town due to the dust whipped up by an 80 km/h wind. For­tu­nately, the wind died down as Hammertown be­gan emp­ty­ing out when thou­sands of driv­ers crossed the lakebed like a scene from Mad Max in prepa­ra­tion for the night’s event, the Choco­late Thun­der SRRS vs. Ul­tra4 Shootout.

At Mon­day’s Shootout, Cana­dian driver Nolan Skop drove his in­fa­mous GORD F-150 mega­truck in the event and was sec­ond off the line, putting in a great time un­til he hit a large boul­der near the top, com­ing to a com­plete stop. He crossed the line with a time of 48.8 sec­onds for 11th place with the win go­ing to Scott Go­forth in his brand new rock bouncer with a time of 38.3 sec­onds.

Af­ter the event, the hills were shin­ing with light­bars as thou­sands of spec­ta­tors made their way back across the lakebed to Hammertown. It’s one of those unique events that needs to be ex­pe­ri­enced. A late

Words and pho­tos by Brady Melville

Matt Nie­man got his bell rung pretty good. All kid­ding aside, he’s lucky to be alive.

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