2014 King of the Hammers

2014 King of the Hammers
800 500 Zach Berning

2014 King of the HammersIf you’ve never been to King of the Hammers, you definitely need to put it on your bucket list. Starting this weekend, over 35,000 fans will head out to Johnson Valley in the southern California desert for an action packed week of off-road motorsports. More than just a race, King of the Hammers has become an annual pilgrimage for race fans young and old who want to be a part of what is considered the toughest off-road race in the world. Whether your thing is motorcycles, UTVs, off-roading, or hardcore rock buggies – King of the Hammers has something for everyone!

King of the Hammers 2014The barren Means Dry Lake Bed transforms into what can only be described as something straight from the pages of a post apocalyptic science fiction movie. Hammertown, which is race HQ and home to the competitors, sponsors, vendors, and media, is hard to describe if you haven’t experienced for yourself.

2014 King of the Hammers2014 King of the Hammers2014 King of the HammersThe “streets” are full of enthusiasts and spectators trying to get a closer glimpse of the vehicles and drivers competing while race teams are frantically scurrying about making final adjustments or looking for a replacement part for something that broke or failed in qualifying. To say its electric might come across a bit cliché, but there is a buzz about Hammertown unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. I can only imagine that it would be similar to being in Ensenada for the start of the Baja 1000 or spending a night in one of the bivouacs along the Dakar route.

The week kicks off with the 2014 King of the Motos race on Saturday (2/1) and Sunday (2/2). Saturday will feature a trial/qualifying event and Sunday will feature a two-stage race. The first stage of Sunday’s Moto race will feature extremely fast desert sections with technical rock sections. The second stage incorporates the infamous Goat Hill land rush start and tackles some of the most difficult trails in Johnson Valley. The winner will be the rider that can successfully competes both stages in the least amount of combined time. Check out some of the action from last year’s 2013 King of the Motos race …

2014 King of the Hammers UTV2014 King of the HammersThe second race of the week is Wednesday’s 2014 King of the Hammers UTV Race. Side-by-sides will battle it out in both Pro and Amateur classes for a chance to be crowned the King. Racing through some of the toughest trails Johnson Valley has to offer, don’t underestimate what these UTVs are capable of! UTVUnderground.com captured this video from last year’s race …

The third race, which is an absolute blast to watch, is the 2014 Smittybuilt Every Man Challenge (EMC) race. Taking place on Thursday (2/6), the Every Man Challenge is guaranteed to test a driver’s resolve and strength. Typically run by teams without the big sponsors and pit crews like the main race, EMC competitors will compete in everything from beater rigs to modified Jeeps to custom rock buggies.

2014 King of the Hammers2014 King of the Hammers2014 King of the HammersWhile the bulk of competitors will never even come close to the finish line, the EMC is a fantastic race to watch because it truly is man and machine versus the elements. Can your rig survive the beating that Hammers has in store for it and can you as a driver think quick on your feet and know how to tackle the challenges that present themselves? It’s not a matter of if something breaks, it’s when it breaks. Take a look at some of the highlights captured by Ultra 4 Racing from last year’s EMC event (in 2013, the UTV and EMC races were held on the same day) …

Come Friday (2/7) it’s time for the main event – the 2014 Griffin King of the Hammers Race Presented by Nitto Tire. At the crack of dawn on Friday morning you’ll hear the desert start to come alive as races and spectators come together for the race they’ve all been waiting for. In what is considered by some to be the ultimate desert race, the King of the Hammers race is something you have to experience for yourself.

2014 King of the Hammers2014 King of the Hammers2014 King of the HammersFrom the roar of the engines to the smell of race fuel and exhaust, your heart starts pounding from the moment you see the competitors line up in Hammertown. While race crews make final adjustments and inspections, drivers get a final hug and kiss from loved ones as well as thumbs ups and handshakes from friends and fans alike. When the flag finally drops and the race begins, the roar of vehicles racing off into the desert and rocks is unlike anything you’ve ever heard. It’s kind of like a chain saw being powered by a jet engine and once you hear it, you’ll never forget that sound.

2014 King of the Hammers2014 King of the HammersCompetitors will spend one of the longest days of their life racing against the clock and navigating sections of 100mph+ open desert only to be met with vertical rock walls and unimaginable boulder obstacles. All the while, fellow competitors will be breathing down your neck waiting for you to slip or for that perfect opportunity to go around, or over you if need be. A certain Ludacris song comes to mind right about now. The King of the Hammers race is very fast, very loud, and something you need to experience first hand to fully appreciate.

2014 King of the Hammers2014 King of the Hammers WinnerWhen all is said and done, at the end the day there will be only one King. Whether it be skill, luck, or a combination of both – Hammers will push drivers to their breaking point and truly let us see what they’re made of. From talking to racers and past Kings, they all agree upon one thing. Once you get a taste of racing the Hammers, it gets in your blood and you have to come back for more. Who will be crowned King this year? We’re going to have to wait and see! Race Dezert captured some great footage from last year’s main event …

For more information about the King of the Hammers and all the races, check out the Ultra 4 Racing website. You can also get up to date news on their Facebook page. If you have the opportunity next week, go spend a day or two in the desert and get a taste of what Hammers is all about.  I can guarantee you’ll be requesting the entire week off from work next year!

AUTHOR

Zach Berning

Zach is our Digital Editor for MOTUS. He's also a foodie, off-road and backcountry adventure travel lover, and has coffee running through his veins. Read more …

All stories by: Zach Berning

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