How An Average Guy Found Himself In The Driver's Seat-And Ultimately, The Finish Line At King Of The Hammers
With the maximum number of racers limited to 100, competing in King of The Hammers may appear unattainable to the average person. However, if you consider all the possible routes of entry, KOH is actually one of the only high-profile off-road race events in the country that actually caters to the average Joe. Sure, you have to have a capable rig plus the time and money to prep it properly. But all said, KOH is a lot closer to being a "real world" off-road event than you might think.
We analyzed some of the stories of everyday people who found themselves involved in the toughest one-day off-road race in the world. After doing so, securing a spot in KOH reminded us a lot of our own Top Truck Challenge. Anyone can enter, and virtually anyone can win. Take, for instance, this year's winner, Loren Healy of Farmington, New Mexico. Healy rolled the dice and entered his Jimmy's 4x4-tube chassis crawler into 4 Wheel Parts Last Chance Qualifier, where 35 teams battled it out for 25 coveted final spots in the field. In doing so, Healy earned himself a spot in the main event, finishing Fifth overall in the challenging two-day LCQ event, netting him a 53rd-place start position in the main event.
Prior to race day, nobody would have thought that an 11th-hour amateur entrant had a chance against veteran rock racers with multi-year sponsorship contracts, let alone the star-studded entourage of desert racers who competed. However, at the end of the day Healy and his co-driver, Rodney Woodey, pulled off the improbable, proving that KOH is indeed anyone's game. In the weeks leading up to the race, Healy didn't even get a chance to prerun the brutal 135-mile course as so many others did, which made his accomplishment that much sweeter.
The Media Card
This year, I requested a spot to compete in the main event. I knew that KOH officials sometimes make special allocations for media entries. For instance, in 2009 they let Petersen's 4-Wheel and Off-Road Tech Editor Fred Williams compete in his project Fun Buggy. My strategy was different. A friend of mine, Derek Summers, recently purchased a turnkey recreational rock crawler from Jimmy's 4x4. A few years back, Summers had assisted us with a whole bunch of paint and bodywork on our Project Mega Titan. He'd never asked for anything in return, and despite several attempts to return the favor, I simply could not make it happen-that is, until I got the call from KOH co-owner Jeff Knoll one cold January afternoon.
"Hey Stover, we secured you a spot in the main event," said Knoll.
Summers had never raced in any competitive motorsports events before, nor was he expecting a call from his magazine friend with connections. At first, he didn't believe me. Then, after the news sunk in, he began asking his friends if he could count on them for pit support. His inquires were met with further disbelief, "How did a no-name like you get a spot in KOH?" I still remember one of the many follow-up phone calls Summers made to me. "Dude, are you sure we got a spot? Did they give you a confirmation number or something?" I assured him and encouraged him to advance his grassroots planning strategy to the next level. I knew the effort was going to cost at least ten thousand dollars in parts and labor to pull off. All I could offer was editorial coverage. I left the rest up to him.