The King of the Hammers Pre-Show at 4 Wheel Parts

We’re getting closer to the official opening of the 2018 King of the Hammers. Marking the occasion as it has for the past eight years is the KOH Pre-Show at 4 Wheel Parts in Compton, CA.

The KOH Pre-Show is where drivers and fans learn the last-minute details for the Ultimate One-Day Race before everyone makes the pilgrimage to the sacred grounds of Means Dry Lake. We learn where the drivers will line up, where some of the daily races are taking place, and get late breaking news about Ultra4. This year, the location of the Holley EFI Shootout driver’s list was revealed along with some other very big news involving KOH, the Mint 400, and Crandon. Those three big events will combine into the Nitto Tires Triple Crown of Off-Road.

Nitto Tire Triple Crown of Off-Road

Yes, you read that correctly! Ultra4’s big race, the Best in the Desert’s big one, and the World Championship Off-Road Race will all include Ultra4’s 4400 unlimited class for a single championship. This all occurs outside the normal Ultra4 Schedule, but the prize money will end up being huge. The winner of the Triple will earn $15,000 in prize money and Marty Fiolka announced during the show that Crandon is throwing in another $15,000 or possibly more money to the winner of their race as well.

The first race of the Nitto Triple Crown will be the Nitto King of the Hammers Powered by Optima Batteries. Then it goes to the BFGoodrich 50th Mint 400 on March 10th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Finally, the Triple Crown will be awarded at the 40th Annual World Championship Off-Road Race at Crandon, Wi on Labor Day Weekend (August 31st to September 2nd). The Friday qualifying race to run in the finale will be a night race for the 4400 class, as well. Carbage is planning to at least cover the first two rounds but if you want to see us do the third and final at Crandon, we’re going to need your help. More on that at the end of the article.

Holley EFI Shootout

The 2018 Holley EFI Shootout location was unofficially announced and it’s going to be a doozey for the East and West Coast drivers according to Dave Cole, President of Ultra4 Racing. While he didn’t give away the actual location, it is being called “Frontdoor” after being at Backdoor for nearly four years. The first Shootout was in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 2013, but moved to the KOH and Backdoor in 2014. This new location promises to be easier for fans to reach but not any easier for the drivers to climb. Notable drivers in the Shootout include Bobby Tanner (SRRS Driver), John Currie (of Currie Enterprises and racing 4400), Rick Waterbury (4400 Class), Mike Slawson (4400 Class), Jordan Townsend (4400 Class), and 10-year-old Cash LeCroy (SRRS Driver).

Can-Am KOH UTV Race Sponsored by HCR

The UTV Class for KOH continues to grow and this year there will be over 100 entries for the 10th Annual Event. At the time of the Pre-Show, there were already 106 drivers registered and Dave expects even more – above 130 entries – by the time February rolls around. OG13 member, Eric “Mustard Dog” Anderson was on hand with Dave and Eric “Camo” Linker to talk about the class and the entries for 2018. Notable drivers entered in this year include Robby Gordon, Jami Pellegrino, Casey Currie, Shannon, Bailey, and Wayland Campbell, Loren Healey, Erik Miller, TORC Pro2 and Pro4 drivers Johnny and CJ Greaves, six-time UTV King Mitch Guthrie, and Hoonigan Racer and RPM Driver Sara Price. We’re going to work towards some heavy coverage of this race as it continues to grow this year, so keep a look out for more UTV racing here on Carbage, too.

Smittybilt Every Man Challenge

The race for the guys who don’t have the 4400 class budget but want to prove they can hang with the big boys. The Smittybilt Every Man Challenge is in its seventh year and is another class the has grown since it has started. This year it will have over 120 vehicles with 23 in 4600 Pro Comp Stock Class, 69 in the 4800 G2 Axle and Gear Legends Class, 36 in 4500 Rubicon Express Modified Class at the time of the Pre-Show. Jessi Combs will be racing in the EMC again this year but in the Savvy Off-Road 4600.

2016 Stock Class Champion, Albert Contreras will once again race in Stock with the Jeep Thrillz Off Road Wrangler. The 2017 Stock Champion and EMC winner, Ben Varozza, wasn’t listed at the time of the Pre-Show, however Brian Behrend, who rolled at the 2017 Nitto Tires National Championships in Reno, NV, will be back in that same Jeep Cherokee. Formula Drift Champion and Monster Energy driver, Vaughn Gittin, Jr is back in the “Brocky” 4500 Class however 2017 4500 Class Champion and EMC 4500 winner, Marty Mann was not listed at the time of the Pre-Show. Brad Lovell and his brother, Roger, will be returning to retain their EMC win last year.

The Big Race

There will be several substantial changes in the 4400 Class for the 2018 King of the Hammers. One of the driver changes of note is Tony Pellegrino is stepping away from the class and allowing his son, Jordan, to pick up the reigns of the Nexus 4400. They have also picked up a new tire sponsor with Yokohama Tires for the entire 2018 season. Dave Cole’s son, Bailey, will be making his run in 4400 in Dave’s Baja 1000 car as well as Jessi Combs, Bailey Campbell, and 2017 Points Champion, Wayland Campbell. 2017 King, Shannon Campbell, will be looking to retain his crown and become the first ever three-time champion.

Qualifying will be a one-day affair instead of two, as well. While a few drivers and fans have questioned it, Dave has stated that it will work and that a single day of qualifying will allow for all the 4400 Class to get their times in for the main show. With 69 cars to run, it’s doable from looking at the schedule. With five additional cars from the LCQ, ten from the Shootout, optional spots for EMC‘s Top Finishers, and the rumors of a few OG13 members that are looking to enter, this year’s race may have as many as 100 drivers or more fire up early Friday morning to try and take the crown from Shannon. Lazernut’s Cody Waggoner will be providing custom made trophies to the Top Ten finishers of this year’s KOH. This will be the first year that 1st through 10th will receive a trophy for finishing.

Course Hints

Cougar Buttes is the only rock feature to have been named, but so far the course hasn’t been revealed. The “Short Course” is also coming back for 2018 and Dave says it will be even more legit this year with bigger turns, jumps, and fun for spectator and driver alike. Some of the clues are that there will be newer rock features and less desert running for 2018. The full King of the Hammers Course is 209-miles this year while the 4800 and 4500 will be 136-miles, UTV will be 134-miles, and Stock will be 124-miles.

The pits are in their locations from last year but longest run between pits will be about 35-miles and the shortest will be about 16-miles. In order of laps, it will be 13-miles between main pit and remote pit one, then 35-miles to remote one again, 15-miles from there to main pit for Lap One, main pit to remote pit 2A is 18-miles, then 21-miles to 2B, 16-miles to get back to 2A, 18-miles to main pit and the Finish for lower classes otherwise it’s 24-miles and only Lap Three. Then it’s a repeat of Lap Two from main pit to 2A, 2B, 2A and except it will be only 18-miles to the Finish. The drivers will run through the Marine base again this year as part of the course.

All classes will have the same first lap and all, but Stock will hit Spooners Canyon, including UTV. All classes will have 10-hours from their start time to complete their courses or they won’t be officially counted. There will also be a tire inner liner check to make sure that any inner liner doesn’t exceed the 27-inch diameter rule when the tire is fully deflated, and a 30-psi inflated inner liner.

Broadcasts and other Ultra4 News

There will also be a 13-episode series on NBC Sports to cover the Ultra4 Series. This year, like every year, there will be a live internet broadcast from Johnson Valley on select rock features, the main pits, and from the stage right in front of the bonfire. So, if you’re not able to see it live, bookmark ultra4racing.com/live to watch it from your home. You can even watch a recorded version of the Pre-Show if you missed it up until KOH goes live.

For 2018, Ultra4 and the Fab School have teamed up to create a Manufacturer’s Cup for builders in the Ultra4 Series. Final rules haven’t been set at the time of the Pre-Show, but the basic idea is that chassis builders will pick up to five vehicles to represent them with two alternates. The performance of those chassis throughout 2018 will determine their points and will help crown the 2018 Manufacturer’s Cup winner. Warn has also stepped up for 2018 with a new contingency program with their Pit Mats. This will only help the racers and Ultra4 take care of the deserts they run, but also Warn will award contingency money to racers with the Warn mat in their pit area.

Carbage and A Major Giveaway

There will be some exciting stuff coming for coverage of the King of the Hammers, but after hearing the announcement of the Triple Crown of Off-Road, Carbage needs to get out to all three of those rounds. However, we need your help and we’re going to reward you. We’re going to be giving away six tickets to the 2018 King of the Hammers to random fans who support us on Patreon. If we hit $1500 per month or more, we will also give away six spectator tickets (parking passes in the case of the Mint 400) to each of the three rounds of the Nitto Tires Triple Crown of Off-Road.

You’ll have to provide your own travel and accommodations for all those events, but you’ll be getting a chance to win a ticket that’s worth up $30 for the KOH, a $35 parking pass for the Mint 400, and a $50 weekend pass for Crandon during Labor Day Weekend. All you need to do is support us at Patreon.com/carbage for as little as a $1 per month. Again, you’ll have to make your way there and figure out your stay but those are tickets you won’t have to buy if you’re chosen at random from our Patreon supporters. There will be only one ticket per random winner. NOTE: Ultra4, Best In The Desert, The Mint 400, Crandon International Off-Road Raceway, and all of their affiliates are not associated with this giveaway.

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Justin Banner
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Justin Banner

Justin Banner, Lead Editor and Founder of Carbage Online, has been involved with the automotive media and industry in many capacities and now tackles publication ownership with CarbageOnline.com. Prior to that, he has freelanced for top online publications of modern media that include Speedhunters, MotoIQ, Super Street Online, Hot Rod Magazine and many others. All due to his nearly 20 years experience as a mechanic, service writer, and technical support in the automotive industry. Justin is also a Journalist Level member of the Motor Press Guild - an industry recognized entity of professional automotive journalists - since 2015.