Ever heard of Griffin King of the Hammers presented by Nitto Tire? It’s one of the toughest off road races in the world, featuring some of the most technologically advanced cars driven by some of the best drivers in the world, and it all goes down in Johnson Valley, CA the first week of February.
What essentially started in 2007 as thirteen drivers betting a 6 pack of beer that they could make it to the top of a technical trail of rocks and boulders has now evolved into a full fledged race series featuring Ultra4 cars. An Ultra4 is what Mad Max wishes he drove. They can handle it all: whoops, mud, dirt, dunes, sand, snow, rocks. From 100+ miles per hour on the dry lake bed to low-gear crawling up rocks twice as big as the car itself, the Ultra4 machines put on a show like nothing you’ve ever seen.
The only requirement of this class is that they be 4 wheel drive; other than that the class is unlimited. No chase crews are allowed, so driver and co-driver have to do any repairs on the course or they need to be able to limp back into the pits. The top 20 teams from 2013 automatically qualify. Additional drivers qualify by racing in the 2013 Ultra4 Racing Series or via a partnering race series. Everyone else must participate in the 4 Wheel Parts Qualifying Rounds the week prior to the race.
But it wouldn’t be Hammers Week without a few more fun races to fill out the bill. Motorcycles, UTVs, and even stock vehicles all get the chance to try their mettle on the notorious King of the Hammers race course.
The competition starts on Saturday February 1st with King of the Motos presented by Trail Tech qualifying rounds. Sixty riders in three classes (pro, sportsman, teams) will compete on a 40 mile closed course. The fastest riders will start first in Sunday’s two part race. Riders will start two at a time in the morning for 40 miles of high speed desert racing. The afternoon will feature a land rush start and 40 miles of brutal and technical rocky terrain.
Tuesday and Wednesday will be qualifying rounds for the big show through the 4 Wheel Parts Qualifying course. There is even a chance for a Last Chance Qualifier contestant to earn one of the ten remaining open spots for Griffin King of the Hammers presented by Nitto Tire. The 4 Wheel Parts Qualifying course offers excellent spectator visibility and promises to be an exciting two days.
The UTVs will compete on Wednesday February 5th in a 114 mile course of both high speed desert and technical rock crawling sections. There are two classes (sportsman and pro) and over 35 riders are expected.
Thursday brings the popular Smittybuilt Everyman Challenge, where off road enthusiasts can test their driving skills with their stock and modified stock vehicles on the same elements as the Ultra4 cars. More than 75 vehicles are expected in Pro Comp Stock, Rubicon Express Modified, and the new Legends and Spec classes.
The final race happens Friday, February 7th with the cars lining up at 6am for an 8am green flag. Drivers have 14 hours to complete the brutal 194 mile course. How brutal? Last year only 27 out of 129 cars finished. This year 130 teams from 31 states and 8 countries are expected.
You can follow along live at www.ultra4racing.com/live starting February 1st, or watch in person for a mere $20 donation. Directions and more information can be found at http://ultra4racing.com/event/koh-week/