Canadian trials and tribulations at the King of the Hammers
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
Matt Nieman got his bell rung pretty good. All kidding aside, he’s lucky to be alive.