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2015 King Of The Hammers Race - Hammertown Grows Bigger

Posted in Events on May 20, 2015
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Nine years ago the King of the Hammers was 12 friends racing for a case of beer. It started as a competition to see who could complete all the Hammer’s trails the fastest. These friends would be known as the “OG 13.” The next year a few more friends showed up on the lakebed and an event was born. Hammertown has evolved into a full fledged city in the middle of nowhere, complete with food vendors, parts delivery services, a jumbo tron showing live race coverage, and, of course, Wi-Fi. King of the Hammers is no longer just Ultra 4 cars running on a single day. The event has expanded to weeklong of events with Moto, UTV, Stock, and qualifiers.

Tough Courses
Every year, the course mileage at the Hammers seems to grow as does the obstacles. This year the course was over 200 miles. Competitors had the option of running “Backdoor” at least once during any of their three laps. Many chose to bypass it and pick up speed in the faster desert sections. The only problem with that is by the third lap, there could be a bottleneck, erasing any chances of a win. The race promoters did not anticipate the massive bottleneck that developed in JackHammer. By early afternoon 30-40 cars got stuck and course workers tried to clear it in time for the competitors on their thirrd lap to come through. They were unsuccessful. Rather than hold up the leaders, a decision was made to escort all competitors on their third lap through a bypass around JackHammer at controlled speeds. With 129 competitors starting the race, 17 finished by the 10 p.m. cutoff. King of The Hammers has the highest attrition rate of any off-road race.

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Global Event
Competitors from all over the world come to Johnson Valley to compete in the King Of the Hammers. In all 23 states and eight countries are represented at the Hammers—Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, UK, Belgium, USA, and Germany. Teams such as the Gigglepins have their cars shipped over from Australia. It’s not just the competitors coming over for the event. A global mix of spectators also take vacations just to see the King of the Hammers in person. Spin-off events have also grown worldwide. King of The Valleys is run in South Wales. There are rumors of entire bars in Europe watching live race coverage in Europe and throwing “race parties.” Australia’s Ben Napier took a win in the legends class the day before the big event, running his older race car built by Randy Slawson.

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Ever-Evolving Race Car
The race car has also evolved throughout the years of the Hammers. In the beginning, competitors brought whatever rock-crawler was in their garage. Soon, competitors were showing up with purpose-built rigs to conquer the Hammers. When Shannon Campbell won the Hammers in 2008 in a single seat IFS car, competitors thought those rigs would be a game changer and began ordering and building them. The IFS car features an independent front suspension and several are single seaters, eliminating the codriver and saving weight. The next year Jason Scherer won with a straight-axle car. In the beginning, all the competitors could talk about was how the race would be won or lost in the rocks. Today this is no longer true. The real key to winning the Hammers is being fast in the rocks and the desert. Some will spend all year building their car just to compete at the Hammers. The Ultra 4 Series was also born out of the Hammers. Ultra 4 events give competitors a chance to run their cars at competitions throughout the year. Those who win the Ultra 4 races can be guaranteed a qualifying spot for the King of the Hammers.

Ben Napier comes from Australia to compete at the Hammers.

Slawson Re-Crowned
It would seem the Kings keep getting re-crowned. Randy Slawson’s King of the Hammers win adds his name to the growing list of repeat Kings. Slawson won King of the Hammers the first time in 2013. Slawson was on course for 9 hours. He started 45th after a bad qualifying session two days before. Slawson says he began picking cars off one-by-one. On Lap 2, Slawson ran out of gas sending his codriver nearly a mile back down course for fuel. Slawson is a car builder. His race shop, Bomber Fabrications, builds and sells these purpose-built Hammers race cars. This year 10 Bomber Fabrication cars competed in the Hammers. One thing is for sure. Slawson has the bragging rights for the year and he will take what he learned at the Hammers and put it into another winning build for next year’s King of The Hammers.

Randy Slawson joins the repeat Kings club.

King of the Hammers
Randy Slawson 8:52:23
Erik Miller 9:20:49
Levi Shirley 9:21:14
Wayland Campbell 10:41:30
Derek West 10:56:42

Every Man Challenge
Brandon Currie 5:57:43
Jordan Townsend 8:15:12
Shawn Rants 8:31:48

Matthew Peterson 8:24:05

Luke Johnson 7:03:26
Ricky Johnson 8:44:02

Ben Napier 6:11:46
Ben Dinkins 6:40:36
Mike Amaral 8:31:38

King of The UTVs
Mitch Guthrie 6:20:22
Dean Bulloch 7:48:45
Cody Currie 7:27:04 (Sportsman UTV)

King of the Motos
Colton Haaker 3:21:07
Cory Graffunder 3:26:43
Max Gerston 3:28:35

Kevin Murphy 4:35:35
Jordan Rock 2:55:28
Jason Gitchel 2:59:43

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