Shannon Campbell and son, Wayland, overwhelmed the competition at the 2017 King Of The Hammers as they dominated two of the biggest races of the week. The Campbell’s were 1-2 in not only the big Nitto King Of The Hammers race, but were 1-2 in the Can-Am UTV King Of The Hammers race too!
Campbell is always close to the lead when the checkers fly, but now he stands alone at the top with three KOH wins. Speaking of close, Campbell edged his boy Wayland by a mere 28 seconds on adjusted time, which turned out to be the closest margin of victory ever for a KOH race. Other winners throughout the week include the perennial favorite Brad Lovell, Kyle Crouch, and Colton Haaker.
Nitto King Of The Hammers Powered By Optima BatteriesAfter battling their way past a broken-down competitor early in the race, Jason Scherer, Wayland Campbell, Shannon Campbell, and Erik Miller pulled out into a commanding lead. By the sixth hour of the grueling race the lead had changed multiple times, and it was still anyone’s race.
As the drivers emerged from the final obstacles, Wayland Campbell had opened up a physical lead over his father, Shannon Campbell, and crossed the finish line ahead of him. But when the dust settled and times were calculated it was Shannon Campbell who came out on top by a mere 28 seconds.
Team Nitto drivers Shannon Campbell, Wayland Campbell, and Jason Scherer have swept the 2017 King of the Hammers podium while 2016 champion Erik Miller finished just behind in fourth place. This victory makes Shannon Campbell the first three-time winner of the prestigious race.
Can-Am UTV King Of The HammersWhile all eyes were on UTV legend Mitch Guthrie and defending champion Blake Van de Loo, it was the Campbell family who stole the show at the 2017 Can-Am UTV Race Presented by RCV.
None of the racing Campbell clan—Shannon, Wayland, nor Bailey—had ever competed in a UTV race before they arrived at the starting line, although it’s safe to say that they didn’t lack for KOH experience. Shortly into her UTV debut, Bailey, the only woman driving in two classes at King of the Hammers, was out in front as the rest of the pack gave chase. “To tell you the truth when Bailey was out in front, I was like, ‘that would be so cool if she won,’” said Shannon. Ultimately, Shannon took the lead while Bailey and Wayland stayed close behind.
The race wasn’t going nearly so well for other big-name drivers. Mitch Guthrie had actually passed Campbell for the lead at one point, only to have mechanical problems soon after. A flat, a burned belt, and finally a front differential problem put him out of the race. His son, Mitch Jr., recently off a BITD Parker 250 win, also DNF’d as did defending champ coming into the Blake Van de Loo, who lost his transmission at the top of After Shock. Erik Miller fared better in the UTV race. He was the first vehicle off the line, since he posted the fastest time in qualifying. Miller had a solid day finishing Fourth.
Wayland, who was fifth off the line, started to pick off drivers until he finally caught up with his sister on Sledgehammer. When he saw that she was stuck, he stopped to help her out. Once both were again underway, Wayland moved his way into second with Bailey close behind. About 10 miles before the finish, Bailey suffered a mechanical, and she fell back to 15th place. Shannon and Wayland went on to finish 1-2 on the podium, the first time the father/son duo have stood on the same podium at KOH.
“I wouldn’t say it was easy,” said Shannon about winning his first UTV race, “because at every corner we felt like we were going to flip. I would say we were lucky, though.”
Overall Results:1 – Shannon Campbell #5, 3:33:44
2 – Wayland Campbell #3, 3:48:37
3 – Jon Crowley #1965, 3:52:37
Smittybilt Every Man ChallengeMore than 130 teams were lined up for the wave of a green flag and a chance to win gold at the Smittybilt Every Man Challenge (EMC) The 2017 EMC was a compilation of a thousand stories. While some carried a familiar theme, such as long-time ULTRA4 celebrities Brad and Roger Lovell claiming an overall win for a second year in a row, others were the tales of underdogs. Ben Varozza, owner of a small 4WD shop in Northern California, has entered the Pro Comp Stock class every year since 2012, only to be denied a class win. This year Varozza took advantage of a pole position start, kept the competition at bay, and finally earned his place at the top of the podium.
The big upset this year was brought forth by past King of the Motos competitor Marty Mann. With a long history of racing on two wheels, but only a few four-wheel events under his belt, Mann signed up for the Modified Stock class in a sweet Toyota pickup. After beginning the race in 91st position, not only did Mann take a class win, he pulled off a Third Place overall, well ahead of a number of KOH heavy hitters. When the dust settled and the last checkered flag was waved, a mere 50 of the morning’s 133 teams made it to the finish line. Smittybilt’s Every Man Challenge is designed for anyone who wants to play in the dirt.
Overall Results:1 – Brad Lovell #232, 4:35:44
2 – Jason Fish #4817, 4:47:40
3 – Marty Mann #4556, 5:15:12 G2 4800
Legends Results1 – Brad Lovell #232, 4:35:44
2 – Jason Fish #4817, 4:47:40
Rubicon Express 4500 Mod Results1 – Marty Mann #4556, 5:15:12
2 – Jordan Pellegrino #4585, 5:16:48
3 – Matt Howell #4510, 6:18:12
Pro Comp 4600 Stock Results1 - Ben Varozza #4612, 7:50:44
2 – Sean McNamara #4696, 8:52:01
3 – Justin Reece #4619, 9:16:14
Vision X Shootout Presented by KMC, King and NitroA late add to the roster and a first-time competitor at King of the Hammers, Kyle Crouch from Kentucky, took down rock-bouncing legends like Bobby Tanner and Richie Keith to win the 2017 Vision X Shootout Presented by KMC, King, and Nitro Gear. What made Crouch’s win even more impressive is that he had never driven the Backdoor venue, and on his first pass he set a course record of 22.008, topping Bobby Tanner’s record of 22.6 seconds set in 2015. He won by almost six seconds, to take home the $7,500 prize money. One of the most popular events during the King of the Hammer’s week, 45 participants from more than 10 states competed in the 2017 edition. Thousands of spectators lined the sides of canyon. “Backdoor is one of the most famous hills in California. It’s one of the most renowned on the KOH racecourse,” said Luke Wilson, who finished runner-up to Randy Slawson in 2014. While Crouch was the fastest during the event, the crowd favorite award went to Guy Miller from California who made a dramatic climb up the rock face and spent some time on two-wheels before completing the course. The top 10 racers from Monday’s competition have the option enter the Last Chance Qualifier on Tuesday. The LCQ is the final chance for competitors to gain entry into the King of the Hammer’s main event on Friday.
Overall Results:1 – Kyle Crouch 22.008
2 – Bryan Maloney 28.358
3 – William Stewart 29.719
King Of The MotosThe 11th Annual Nitto King of the Hammers Powered by Optima Batteries kicked off with a dramatic start to the week featuring the 6th Annual King of the Motos. Eventful finishes and navigation played a major role in this year’s race where Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker was crowned the 2017 King of the Motos.
Haaker stayed consistent and safe, and the strategy paid off when he was the first rider to hit all of the checkpoints. The physical first finisher was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Cody Webb, but Webb had missed a checkpoint in the final Moto, which put him back on the results list. Event creator Jimmy Lewis stressed the importance of navigation and how it would take priority over physical finishes due to virtual checkpoints that the riders needed to hit. In the end, Beta’s Max Gerston and Topar Racing’s Mitch Carvolth respectively followed Haaker in the overall results.
A dead-engine start of 107 riders kicked off the Baja Designs dramatic night moto, and it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Cody Webb who took the holeshot around the sand hill turn, which would then loop the riders back into a climb up Chocolate Thunder. Most of the field piled up at the bottom of the rocky canyon incline, while Webb made his run look effortless with teammate Taylor Robert on his tail. Robert became hung up in a section and Haaker seized the opportunity to make a move into second place. At the finish line, two lights crested the hill just after the six-mile mark and raced down toward the finish line arch. It was neck and neck, but it was Robert who emerged as the winner of Moto 1 after a close battle with Webb. Gerston was third and then Haaker.
The desert Moto on Sunday morning would have the most difficult segment of the event right at the start. Webb lined up with a handful of other riders to take on the steeper and more direct line to the Nitto arch where he again took the holeshot. Webb was followed through the arch by teammate Taylor Robert, Gas Gas’ Noah Kepple and Colton Haaker. Taylor Robert and Cody Webb battled back and forth for the lead before Robert crashed out of race contention. Cody Webb was first through the finish claiming the checkered flag.
Eventual winner, Colton Haaker, along with other top riders following behind the lead duo came upon the downed Taylor Robert and stayed with him until help arrived, potentially sacrificing their race. Motos Director, Jimmy Lewis, appreciated the sportsmanship, and the results were adjusted accordingly to reflect the time loss.
The start of the final Moto, a hard enduro race, once again Cody Webb taking the lead. Webb started to extend the gap between first and second, and had a strong lead when he crossed the finish line first. Later, he learned the missed checkpoint would place him further in the results than his physical finish. Colton Haaker was second through the final Moto finish followed by Max Gerston, which would later translate to the points Haaker needed to take the overall win and bumping Gerston up to Second Place.