Of all the disciplines in off-highway driving, no two could be more different than rock crawling and desert racing. Rock crawling is typically turtle-slow and very technical. A buggy used in rock crawling typically has a mega-low-geared, multi-stick transfer case and a short, narrow wheelbase. Conversely, desert racing is wide-open, foot-to-the-floor, blazing fast. A machine used in desert racing typically has a monster motor that's geared for speed and a wheelbase and width designed for high-speed stability. Clearly, rock crawling rigs and desert racing rigs are mutually exclusive.
Oh wait. Apparently, the folks over at Hammerking Productions didn't get the memo, because they created the incredible "King of the Hammers" off-highway event, which merges rock crawling and desert racing into one spectacular race. Known simply as "KOH," this event debuted in '08 and immediately had a permanent impact on the off-highway community. The '09 event, held last February, further solidified the fact that, almost overnight, KOH is a major player in the world of off-highway events.
This year's KOH returned to the Johnson Valley area of southern California. To ensure that KOH doesn't negatively impact the public's ability to access this open area, KOH organizers thoughtfully held the event during the week. Further, there was no entry fee for spectators to watch the race. Base camp was on Means Dry Lake, where a massive RV city sprung up like magic. The hub of the action was the Raceline Main Tent, and it was surrounded by a number of aftermarket vendors. This was also where the start/finish line and tech inspection areas were located.
The racecourse was roughly 90 miles in length and included almost every type of terrain found in the Mojave Desert. As you can imagine, a race like this had its fair share of drama. Crashes, equipment failures, and intense competition were part of the race. Here's a look at KOH '09.