Photo: Fred Williams
Author: Shaun Ochsner Photos: Shaun Ochsner
Over 35,000 people descended on Hammertown for the 2014 Griffin King of The Hammers race. 8 years ago, the King of The Hammers was 12 guys racing for a case of beer and there were no sponsors, media or spectators involved. Fast forward to today, 158 racers roared off the start line two by two at precisely 8am. Nick Nelson was the polesitter grabbing the fastest qualifying time during the 2-day time trials. Next to him was Tom Wayes in a bright orange IFS race car.
Behind Nelson and Wayes was Marcos Gomez and 2012 King Erik Miller. Shannon Campbell started 5th. 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, 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 King crown.
Next in contention was 2012 King Erik Miller. Miller was ahead of Loren Healy and running strong. Miller wasted no time coming down Jackhammer and onto Chocolate Thunder. On the final lap checkpoints reported Miller in the lead over Healy. When Miller got to Clawhammer, he broke a steering orbital. A spare one was sent out to Miller so he could make the repair on the trail but it would take 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 Clawhammer, they had to get around several stuck vehicles. 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 lap 3, Erik Miller entered Backdoor and Slawson drove through the bypass hoping to make up time and get into the lead. At some point on lap 3 it was reported Slawson rolled his car on the course. Slawson was out of the hunt when his car went down with a brake line problem.
Tom Wayes would come blasting across the finish line in the lead with a very left front flat 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 Clawhammer on the final lap. At this time Wayes penalties have not been announced.
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. Healy said "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." Healy's win will remain unofficial pending review of his tracking data.
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.
Unofficial Results 1. Loren Healy 8:03.25 2. Tony Pellegrino 8:18:42 3. Bill Baird 8:23:37 4. Jake Hallenbeck 8:27:29 5. Derek West 8:29:34
For complete King Of the Hammers Results visit www.ultra4racing.com