194 Grueling Miles of Johnson Valley Hell
The 2014 King of The Hammers brought out over 35,000 people to Hammertown for one of the wildest off-road races in the world. King of The Hammers' humble beginnings goes back eight years ago when twelve good friends made a bet for a case of beer to see who could run the Hammer Trails of Johnson Valley the fastest while hitting the high speed desert sections. There weren't any sponsors or fans cheering them on, just a dozen off-road enthusiasts with one goal on their mind, beating everyone else. It wasn't long before the race snowballed into one of the wildest off-road spectacles in the world and this year, 158 racers showed up with their purpose built race buggies to attempt to take home the ultimate bragging rights trophy, the King of The Hammers Crown!
The racers blasted off the start line two at a time at precisely 8 a.m. Nick Nelson had captured the fastest qualifying time during the 2-day time trials so he got to kickoff the ultimate desert race and run in clean air. Lined up alongside Nick Nelson was Tom Wayes in a bright orange IFS race buggy. Marcos Gomez and 2012 King of The Hammers Champion Erik Miller started just behind the first row followed by another returning Champion, Shannon Campbell. Barely a mile into the start, racers had the option of going up Backdoor or bypassing it, but on at least 1 of their 3 laps they had to complete the challenging waterfall. Shannon Campbell opted to hit Backdoor on his first lap. Unable to make it up, Campbell had to break out the winch right away. Nelson, Wayes and Miller went straight for the high speed desert sections. Campbell would later break a transmission and would be declared out of the race.
With Shannon out and having his vehicle recovered from the course, his son Wayland Campbell was still very much in the race. The team focused on putting Wayland in contention for the win. Later in the race Wayland broke an axle shaft. Per the rules, crews cannot deliver parts to racers. Competitor Lucas Murphy loaded up a new axle shaft to deliver to Wayland on the course.
Nick Nelson spent 2 laps running strong out in the lead. Nelson once again bypassed Backdoor on his 2nd lap requiring him to hit the waterfall on lap 3. Nelson’s day would come to a sudden end as he ran out of fuel crushing his hopes for the coveted 2014 King of The Hammers crown.
Next in contention was 2012 King of The Hammers Champion, Erik Miller. Miller was ahead of Loren Healy and running strong. Miller wasted no time coming down Jack Hammer onto Chocolate Thunder. On the final lap checkpoints reported Miller in the lead over Healy. When Miller got to Claw Hammer, he broke a steering orbital box. A spare unit was sent out to Miller so he could make the repair on the trail but it would result in a fair bit of lost time.
Loren Healy was back in the lead, but Derek West would be right on his tail. Healy had to put time on West if he wanted to win. As they both went through Claw Hammer, they had to get around several stuck vehicles strewn across the race course. Both would make it through with ease.
Randy Slawson was also in contention for the win. Slawson opted to go through Backdoor on his first lap. Slawson would come into the pits after lap 1 with a stuck throttle cable. A quick repair would get him back out on the course. By the third lap, Erik Miller entered Backdoor and Slawson drove through the bypass hoping to make up time and get into the lead. At some point during the third lap, it was reported that Slawson had rolled his race car on the course. Slawson was out of the hunt for the win when his race car was put out of commission with a brake line problem.
Tom Wayes would come blasting across the finish line in the lead with a very flat front-left tire but was immediately counted out for the win after cutting through a bypass line used by the UTV’s early in the race. Officials notified Wayes of his mistake but he opted to continue on the course. Wayes was on a mission to make up time knowing a penalty was coming. In Backdoor Wayes throttled his IFS Buggy right up the waterfall and over the top of 2 stuck vehicles. Wayes would momentarily get slowed by a traffic jam in Claw Hammer on the final lap.
Loren Healy and Derek West would hit the finish line at the same time. Healy would once again wear the King crown, winning the 2014 King of The Hammers. Healy won the Hammers in 2010.
“I thought we had given it away. Our axle shaft blew out and the car was in limp mode all day. Then we put a hole in the radiator,” said Healy.
In the Smittybilt Everyman Challenge, John Currie started first off the line and never looked back. Currie had clean air the entire day earning him the win for the 4500 Rubicon Express Modified Class.
Erik Miller took a win in the 4600 Pro Comp Stock class while television host Jessi Combs won the 4700 Spec Class. Brad Lovell was the winner in the 4800 Legends class.
For complete King of The Hammers Officaial Results, please visit: www.Ultra4racing.com
Check out Dirt Sports' exclusive extended photo gallery from the 2014 King of The Hammers! http://www.dirtsportsnation.com/photos/2014-king-of-the-hammers-photo-gallery/