For an entire week, Johnson Valley, California, comes to life with thousands of racing fans ready to experience and watch off-road racing. King of the Hammers is considered one of the most rigorous off-road races in the world. However, King of the Hammers is more than just racing; it's an off-road car culture where fans build cities with thousands of RVs. If that isn't enough, fans can put their off-road rigs to the test in the same rock courses from the official race. Some make it successfully; others take home a few dings in their attempt.
The day before, racing drivers go through contingency. King of the Hammers staff and technicians inspect each participating race-rig for safety and technical specs. Each rig takes a slow drive across Hammertown through a series of inspection checkpoints. Fans use this opportunity for photo-ops and autographs. During this time, race teams also service their rigs with the help of vendors. Wilwood was on site assisting competitors such as Brett Harrell, Evan Berman, Michael Bou, and Shannon Campbell, to name a few. Wilwood is also proud to be part of many winning teams, as well as represented on a large number of competitors' builds in many classes.
Friday is race day for the Ultra4 Racing 4400 class! As drivers waited to rip through the desert, the national anthem played with a helicopter flyover from The Marines. Once the green flag waved, drivers took off in pairs with 30-second intervals between them. It didn't take long before the course started taking its toll on equipment, and racers began dropping out within the first of three laps. As the race progressed, Bailey Campbell looked like a favorite to take first place on the podium. However, after an hour of leading, Bailey's rig came to a complete stop in the middle of the course on the final lap. Her rig's water pump failed, and all she could do was wait for a replacement part from her crew. It was time for a new leader!
Josh Blyler from Big B Motorsports was one of the strongest leaders after Bailey's pump failed. Josh was closely followed by Erik Miller from Miller Motorsports LLC, Marcos Gomez from Gomez Brothers Racing, and Bailey Cole from Bailey Cole Racing. Josh looked to make a strong finish until he flipped his rig coming down a mountainside. Marcos and Erik made an intense chase and hauled through the desert seeking the lead position. Josh and his co-driver managed to flip the rig, and he took off immediately without his co-driver to save time. The chase for first place continued without further position changes.
Josh Blyler crossed the finish line first in his #41 rig. Miller and Gomez followed, respectively. After a dramatic three laps and time adjustments made according to rules, officials awarded Gomez second place with Erik Miller rounding out the podium finishing third.King of the Hammers proves once again to be entertaining for fans with thrilling racing, plus bringing the off-road community closer together. We can't wait for next year's event!