It’s that time of the year again where we try to get Dave Cole of Ultra4 Racing to spill the beans on the King of the Hammers race course before he’s supposed to. What other details are coming for KOH week? Wait, Unlimited Trucks and a Pit Crew Competition?
For many years, the King of the Hammers Pre-Show took place at the 4 Wheel Parts – now branded as 4WP – home location in Compton, CA. Everyone would gather on the showroom floor and listen in as Ultra4 President, Dave Cole, and Eric “Camo” Linker would talk about what to expect at that year’s KOH. Many big changes are coming and the first we got to see was the move of the Pre-Show from 4WP to Amada America in Buena Park, CA.
Changes, but not the Hunky Dory Type
I arrived early enough to be a part of the full tour of Amada America’s Los Angeles Technical Center, but that’s going to be a separate article coming later. It was worth the initial visit and I plan on coming back during their Regional Seminar on March 7th. It was incredible to see these machines in action and just what they can do.
The actual show started with Dave, Camo, and Cameron Steele – who normally is part of the KOH broadcast team – talking about the newest event on the Johnson Valley Lakebed: The Toyo Tires Desert Invitational presented by Monster Energy. Here, the top 30 racers – and still counting – from SCORE International and the Best in the Desert Series will go out and run out on the Johnson Valley open desert in two races. First will be a 20-mile Prolouge that will qualify the drivers for the main race.
Some of the names include Cameron – who won the Baja 1000 in November – Bryce Menzies, BJ Baldwin, Apdaly Lopez, the McMillins, Rob MacCachren, Justin Lofton, Tavo Vildosola, Robby Gordon, and the return of Jesse James to open desert racing. Yes, the very same Jesse James of Monster Garage and West Coast Choppers fame but has built and raced his own “T1” truck. Yes, these trucks are being branded as T1 as “Trophy Truck” is trademark of SCORE and Trick Truck is associated with BITD. So, for the Desert Invitational, they are being called T1 Trucks.
The T1s will be lined up according to how they rank with their points positions in the SCORE International and BITD and averaged out for the Prologue. Once that qualifying race is over, they get 20-minutes to reset and make changes and line back up according to their lap times in the Prologue. At that point, the Desert Invitational is run just like any open desert race, setting off side-by-side.
The Motos are Gone
With the addition of the T1 race, which takes place on Thursday, February 7th, moved the 4WP Every Man Challenge and UTV races. The EMC Qualifying is now on Monday, February 4th with the race now on Wednesday, February 6th, and the Can Am UTV Qualifying is on Saturday, February 2nd, and the Race is now on Sunday, February 3rd. This means there was no room for the King of the Motos for 2019.
“I like motos… but they’re probably burning me in effigy,” said Cole, “I’m sorry that motos won’t be coming back, but we had an opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up.” That opportunity was the T1 Race. However, there is a reason for this major change. “I want everyone in a single shot car, or anyone in a race car, to drive around this course on Friday afternoon. After four laps of T1s, plus Ultra4 is going to mess it up on top of that… It’s a different course for the 200th guy versus the second guy.”
Essentially, the T1 trucks will make the open desert portions of the course too difficult for the UTVs and Stock Class racers. If you’ve never witnessed it, the ruts those T1 trucks create are enormous and keep getting larger as drivers continue to use tires taller than 38-inches in diameter in those unlimited classes. It’s part of the reason why the smaller classes are run first thing in the morning in BITD and SCORE, besides the speed differential. Because of that and the fact that UTVs and EMC can’t race in the same day, those races were pushed back and the motos were eliminated. Not saying it’s fair – and to his credit, nor is Dave Cole – but it was the only way have the KOH week work with the T1 race.
Holley EFI Shootout
The Holley EFI Shootout returns to pit Ultra4 Racers against some of the best Rock Bouncers from the Southern Rock Racing Series to see who can go up a hill in the fastest time. Or crash the most spectacularly. Like last year, there will not only be a cash prize but ten of the fastest drivers will be given an LCQ pass to race in the King of the Hammers race on Friday.
Where the Shootout will be taking place hasn’t been announced and, much like the course, will be announced on the week before Hammertown officially opens. However, it won’t be Backdoor as there are too many people and competitors to make it a safe environment and have speedy recoveries after drivers push above their vehicle’s limit or their own skills.
Pro Eagle Pit Crew Challenge
On Tuesday night, after the 4400 Qualifying, the top three race teams representing each class from the Ultra4 Nitto Tire Nationals (the top three ranked T1s from their Prologue start ranking) will shoot out in the Pro Eagle Pit Crew Challenge with Raceline Wheels, Boxo Tools, and Buggy Whips coming on board for support and using some of their products during the competition. However, fans can add a fourth wildcard spot by voting at the voting page on Pro Eagle’s website. If you’re familiar with the Pit Crew Challenge during the Mint 400, imagine that but with Ultra4s and UTVs in the mix of this head-to-head competition.
To make it interesting, though, there will be unique additions to the Pro Eagle Pit Crew Challenge. First, there will be a “Fuel Fill” where a simulated fuel filler will have water and fill up the fuel tank with an equal amount for every class. To make the tire changes fair, each wheel will only have four lug nuts that will be installed with a Boxo Tools Impact Gun and the rigs lifted by Pro Eagle jacks. Winners will be lit up by Buggy-Whips along with showing when fueling is done, as the tire changes won’t be allowed until the “fuel” is in.
Prize Purses, Every Class is Getting Paid
This year, the total purse for the entire week of King of the Hammers is well over $300,000. For the first time, even the Legends Class – which is traditionally a trophy only class – will get paid. UTVs and EMC classes will see $5,000 for first place, $2,500 to second, and $1,500 to third place. T1 will see $125,000 split down to $100,000 for first, $15,000 for second, and $10,000 for third place while the fastest lap setter will get $3,750.
$10,000 will be the award for the winner of the Holley EFI Shootout and there will be LCQ qualifying spots for top finishers, too. Ultra4 will also get $125,000 to split and will be like how the T1 racers are split ($100,000, $15,000, $10,000).
Finally, there will be prizes handed out to the winners for the King of the Hammers Pro Eagle Pit Crew Challenge. Raceline Wheels, Buggy-Whip, Boxo Tools, and Pro Eagle will all be giving out hardware to winning teams. There is even rumor of even more prize money, too.
The GenRight KOH Experience
Once again, Tony Pellegrino and the GenRight team will be out to take fans out on the race course the Saturday after KOH is over as part of the GenRight KOH Experience. Not only that, but the GenRight Experience will be expanding to every event on the KOH schedule. Yes, this will include the East Regional races, North Regional races, and the Nitto Tires Nationals.
Get Excited, it’s Hammers Season!
Carbage will bring you next day results coverage of the King of the Hammers week, starting on Sunday for the Can Am UTV Race. This is slated to be one of the biggest King of the Hammers yet thanks to the inclusion of the popular T1s and the Toyo Tires Desert Invitational presented by Monster Energy and the introduction of the Pro Eagle Pit Crew Challenge. I look forward to bring it all to you here and livestreaming where I can from Johnson Valley OHV.
Friday 1/25 – Gate Opens
Friday 2/1 – Hammertown Opens
Saturday 2/2 – Can Am UTV Qualifying
Sunday 2/3 – Can Am UTV Race
Monday 2/4 – 4WP Every Man Challenge Qualifying & Holley EFI Shootout
Tuesday 2/5 – Nitto Tires Ultra4 4400 Qualifying
Wednesday 2/6 – 4WP Every Man Challenge Race (EMC)
Thursday 2/7 – Toyo Desert Invitational Presented by Monster Energy
Friday 2/8 – Nitto Tires King of The Hammers Race Powered by Optima Batteries
Saturday 2/9 – KOH Awards and the GenRight KOH Experience
See more about the schedule until KOH opens at Ultra4Racing.com.