We've tested the jeep, ourselves, and our equipment. We've checked our bolts twice and then twice again. We've been over every inch of the jeep and planed our strategy as well as anyone else could. This is the race, King Of the Hammers Every Man Challenge. We know as well as anyone that anything can happen in Johnson Valley and if it can happen it probably will. You plan to the best of your ability and you test what you bring to the table against the terrain herself. Race day we felt good, car was tight, and we had it setup the best she's ever been. We left 9th off of the line, and made quick work of picking up a few positions by the end of the first decent straight on the lakebed. Around race mile 20 we noticed the car felt a little looser then what it had started the race. We soon thereafter experienced a flat tire on the passenger rear. Not thinking much more then the desert had claimed its first victim; we both exited the jeep and proceeded to swap the spare onto the jeep in a flash. Some of you watching the live feed caught a glimpse of this happening. We were ready to roll again in no time and only lost a spot or two. Within a few yards we lost steering and struck a rock and immediately thereafter noticed another tire going down. We stopped only to find that the hydro assist line had been rubbed through and that both passenger side tires were flat. The hose was understandable seeing that we had just swapped out the bump stops we had been testing with for a new setup the night before race day. The tires baffled us to our wits end though. After testing and putting so many grueling miles on them all the way up until race day and never experiencing a single issue with them only to have 3 in such a short distance. We decided to investigate the matter more. After an inspection of the entire jeep we came to find what looked to be the unfortunate culprit of our issue. The weld on one of our rear upper control arm mounts had stress cracked leaving the rear axle to shift under the jeep thus letting the tires come in contact with other components. We now may never know if it was during the race or even before race day that this problem began manifesting. Fact of the matter is that when pushing a vehicle to its limits in one of the most brutal off-road races ever, year after year... You can eventually break or damage even the best and highest quality components and setups. Chalk it up to nothing more than Mother Nature claiming another victim. No sooner then we determined our issue the #4667 Toyota pulled up and asked us is to look and see if anything was wrong with their front end. We found that a front leaf spring had broken on the Toyota. After they made a quick repair to the rig they then offered the use of their welder to us. We repositioned the rear axle and CJ went to work laying down a few welds that we didn't expect to hold at all being a small welder with a dual battery setup an a 1/4 plate to weld to. We are very grateful to the racers in the #4667 for their generosity! Once the mount was temporarily welded, we swapped some now flat tires around; putting the two good tires on the front for steering and the best 2 of our 3 unpredictable flats on the rear of the jeep. We then continued on at a slow pace only to inevitably chew apart the remainder of the rear tires trying to pull ourselves to the second pass through remote pit 1. Not wanting to give up our chance at an EMC finish and knowing we had more spare tires and wheels at pit 1, we decided to try and drag the jeep on only the wheels for another few miles. We lost rear brakes when the tire finally shredded and flew off taking the rear caliper and brake line with it. We eventually had put enough stress on the rig by literally dragging the rear axle through the desert on what was left of our rock beaten wheels that our engine and transmission temperatures were climbing to unsafe levels. Being far enough away from remote pit 1 that it was inevitable we wouldn't make the cutoff time we decided to back off our current pace and let the jeep rest a little to contain the damage. We missed our 1PM cut off at Pit 1 by 20 minutes. We drove our car over 25 miles on blown rear tires and eventually bare rims. Johnson Valley claimed another victim for KOH stopping us at Race Mile 49.
We learn from our failures and next year we will be ready. This set back will only help us grow more knowledgeable about the car and the limitations of the vehicle. We want to say thank you to every one of our sponsors who aided in getting us prepped and ready for this year’s race series. Without you guys we wouldn’t come close to the starting line! Rock Kralwer Suspension, flying out form NY to be a part of our endeavor and help support our KOH experience. Poison Spyder Customs for all of their resources, pits, crew, knowledge, and experience. Industrial Metal Supply for everything from DOM tubing to UHMW plastic for our car you guys are so good to us. So so many more! Also huge should out to all of the friends and industry family that have helps get the car to the shape that it is in now. From the late nights and early mornings. Aaron and Jeremy for staging or car and warming it up for the race and pit resources. All of our fans and supporters. Thank you for being a part of our team and experience!
We are looking forward and the Mint400 is what’s in site for us next! Stay on track as we clean up the car and ready ourselves and the team for the Jeep Speed 3700 Class Mint400!