The 2015 King of The Hammers
During a week in early February, the desolate Johnson Valley OHV area turns into a bustling city in the middle of the desert with one focus: racing. The annual King of The Hammers event attracts more than 60,000 people for a myriad of off-road races with the main event, the Nitto King of The Hammers Race on Friday. Before over 140 racers set off onto the 215 mile course in their rock buggies, several others races take place. This includes the King of The Motos motorcycle race, the SRRS (Southern Rock Racing Series) vs. Ultra4 Shootout, the UTV Race, and the Everyman Challenge.
There’s a big vendor area at the event, and we had a booth complete with our tricked-out Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited. It showcased our Flat Style Fender Flares and Trail Armor along with a host of other off-road goodies. It was great to meet people who loved our product or were interested in adding it to their rides.
If you’re into off-road racing, “KOH” is one of the events that should be on your bucket list. It is truly incredible how capable these vehicles are; they’re seemingly unstoppable. And when you get several of them on one obstacle, as was the case on Friday at the Chocolate Thunder trail, things get exciting.
And while the racing action is awesome, the parking areas are equally amazing. There are all kinds of rigs there from small, nimble Suzukis to behemoth off-road buggies.
Dune buggies, sand rails, ex-military vehicles, Jeeps, pickups, and just about everything in between. If you’re into off-roading, there’s an awesome vehicle here you’ll love.
The Bushwacker-sponsored rig of Duane Garretson, of CGYS Motorsports (above), competed in Thursday’s Everyman Challenge race, even starting fourth. Unfortunately, his new rig had issues and he wasn’t able to finish.
This year’s winner of Friday’s King of The Hammer’s race was Randy Slawson, who won the race with a total time of 8:52:23 (yes, that’s nearly nine hours). This was Slawson’s second KOH win. Second place went to Erik Miller (2013’s winner), and third went to Levi Shirley. And if you were wondering, 149 vehicles qualified for the race on Friday. Of those, only 17 finished in the allotted time. That means only 11% of the racers finish. To say the race is grueling is an understatement. To finish the race at all is an achievement. You can see the final times on the Ultra4 website.
There’s a certain energy at this event. It’s kind of like the Burning Man of the racing world; there’s a little bit of everything, and everyone seems to have a great time whether their spectating or racing. It’s also a must-visit place for off-roaders. The King of The Hammers is a bit like a desert mirage, however. You’ll only see it sometimes, and if you time it right, it can actually be an off-road racing oasis in the middle of the California desert.
For additional photos, check out the Bushwacker Facebook page.