Taking on the King of the Hammers Smittybilt Every Man Challenge
I’m not really sure where the idea came from for me to co-drive with Rocky in the King of the Hammers Smittybilt Every Man Challenge (EMC) race. I think I was bugging him to build a proper race buggy since he works at a fab shop and he countered with, “Why don’t we race my old trail Jeep?” This all resulted in our being broken in Johnson Valley with a pissed-off Jeep engine and me walking through the desert heat back to camp to get water while outfitted in a fire-retardant race suit. It was fun.
Rocky works at Hazzard FabWorx, where we built last year’s Ultimate Adventure Jeep. He’s a good guy, always happy, and he’s been to a bunch of driving schools with his father, all good points from my view as his co-driver. He’d been talking about building himself a buggy like the ones they create for customers at Hazzard, but the infamous time and money hadn’t aligned for him just yet. He drove his Jeep on the UA last year (it was on the cover of Jan. ’13), and the Every Man Challenge at the King of the Hammers event is perfect for a trail rig to become a race rig, or so we thought.
We hotwired the electric fan with an old piece of speaker wire
The Smittybilt EMC has two classes, Stock and Stock Mod. This race is the entry level for guys who are looking to get into the Ultra4 King of the Hammers type of racing but are not ready to spend the dinero on a full-blown race buggy just yet. The rules are designed for more realistic trail rigs: no rear steer, no full-hydro steering, 37-inch or smaller DOT-approved tires, stock framerails (or a portion of them in the Stock Mod class), and certain limitations on suspension. Rocky’s ’00Jeep TJ has Dana 60 axles, coilover shocks, and an Atlas transfer case. But it also has the stock 4.0L engine, stock automatic transmission, and a good portion of the bodywork. If it had the windshield installed he could have driven it to the trailhead from his home in Idaho, but it may have been chilly for the early February race.
Spoiler alert! In the end we didn’t win the race. Only 5 cars in the class of 33 even finished the 112-mile course, which was filled with whooped-out desert two-track and killer rockcrawling trails. The Jeep didn’t have a good time, but we had a blast just trying to finish, and I’m pretty sure Rocky is already collecting parts for his race buggy build.
See More Action
Enjoy in-car coverage, helicopter footage, and more witty banter from the Every Man Challenge race on the Dirt Every Day channel on YouTube (goo.gl/nBtui).