King of the Hammers, possibly known as the hardest off-road race in the United States. Hammer Town USA is centralized in the vast wastelands of the Mojave Desert. A week-long event where tens of thousands of enthusiasts come to watch high horsepower desert racing meet rock racing in the steep canyons known as “The Hammers”.
Proving Grounds Racing set route to Sothern California with their sights set on the 2019 KOH event. This will be the 4th year the team has set out to battle the elements, machine, man, and mother nature in getting the car to the finish. Countless hours of prep, work, late nights, long hours, wrenching, grinding, welding, tuning, fabricating, design, and so much more goes into this event. When all is said and done, the shop light shuts off for the last time. It’s time to go racing.
Getting to the lakebed early means time to prerun, see the course, and work race strategy with course markers and lines to make. It also gave us an opportunity to tune in our new Fox Shocks we installed on the car for this season. Fox has come on board to our program with making our car faster, smoother, and more competitive for this season.
Tweaking the car, tuning the shocks, and dialing in the small details is what makes these machines capable of handling the elements of the brutal course and getting the car across the finish line.
We qualified this year in Power Hour being one of the faster guys in the line-up. The car was ready, and we had preran the qualifying course the morning of to set our lines and feel the course out. The car was smooth through the rhythm section. The handling was great, the Fox shocks and Rock Krawler suspension were dialed. We were on a mission to qualify in the front of the pack and keep the dust and the congestion of the 140 plus drivers on the course. With fresh BFGoodrich tires and Dirty Life Wheels, we carved the course for a 7th place starting order for our race day.
Brisk 30-degree temps filled the air with the smell of race fuel as we line up for the long day ahead. Energy was high as our Daystar Jeep LJ readied for the long grueling day. Every 30 seconds pairs of cars were off the line. With a green flag we were off the line for lap 1, 92 miles of desert.
Daystar crew was set up at pit 1 and with a quick check, we were off at mile 17, then again at mile 75 where with another rolling check, we were off to complete lap one. The car was fast, and all the energy of the team was high as we were gaining on the top 5th position in our class.
Lap 2 we passed many teams in the desert sections before the rocks. Picking them off one by one we headed into Clawhammer. Taking a bonus line to get around traffic, we found ourselves on our side. With codriver Josh Maldonado out of the car, we made quick work of getting back on all fours with our Warn winch and VooDoo Offroad rope. Heading back to pick up time we ran into Justin Hall stuck on course needing assistance. We pulled him off with our VooDoo Soft shackles and Factor55 Flat link and made an agreement to help each other through the traffic in the canyons.
Down wrecking ball, down Chocolate Thunder, up Her Problem, and out to Bolderdash when we started running into steering issues. Once we got into Highway 19/20 we had lost all power steering to the right. In doing so we had to manually steer the car which caused us a flat on the steep waterfall pass. We tried to see what we could do to fix the steering issue while we changed the flat but didn’t seem like we had equipment, tools, or parts to do so. Being a timed race, stopping long to fix the car can ultimately take us out of the running or timing out. We had to manpower the car struggling into each canyon one after another nursing the issue to make it to the next. We worked our way out of Highway 19/20 and down Aftershock headed back out to the desert to the next canyon. We were on a roll making our way across the course. As the sun started to set, the finish line was in sight. 9 grueling hours in the car fighting our way through every mile, canyon, and overcoming obstacles. We crossed the finish line!
When the dust settled, and time assessed we landed a top 10 finish for the 2019 King of the Hammers Every Man Challenge. Finishing 9th in our class for the first race of the season sets our pace for the national points this season for Ultra4. As we prep, rebuild, and ready our car and team for our next race, we set our eyes on Prairie City, just outside of Sacramento California. We will see you there!