- Brian Trotter attacking Cougar Buttes on Lap 1 of 2020 King of the Hammers photos and story: Royce Rumsey © 2020

P​ing, Claw, Sledge, Jack Success

K​ing of the Hammers has become off-road royalty

3w ago

15.2K

In a little over a decade, the contest sketched out between Jeff Knoll and Dave Cole in a desert bar has become arguably the premiere off-road event in the world. From the handful of contestants and their families (13 participants now revered as the “OG13”) participating in first “King of the Hammers” the past few years have seen the popularity of the event attracting the attention of major media outlets like Sports Illustrated and ABC Sports. The importance of the event now garners Nitto Tires, Optima Batteries, Chrysler-Jeep and this year Ford Motor Company as major sponsors and use of the event as new model introductions.

King of the Hammers Champion E​rik Miller descends part of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 1

King of the Hammers Champion E​rik Miller descends part of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 1

K​ing of the Hammers Champion Loren Healy navigates part of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 1

K​ing of the Hammers Champion Loren Healy navigates part of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 1

B​rian Trotter ascends part of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

B​rian Trotter ascends part of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

E​ric Miramon attacks Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

E​ric Miramon attacks Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

T​ray McKinlay approaching a crest of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

T​ray McKinlay approaching a crest of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

Hundreds of thousands of the motoring enthusiasts annually congregate for over a week in one of the worlds most remote and challenging environs to participate, observe and cheer on their favored--as they battle the harshest elements of rock and sand that the fabled Mojave Desert can serve up. As there are no other means of accommodation, the faithful assemblage of thousands of motorhomes, motorcoaches and campers becomes a temporary Mojave metropolis known as “Hammertown”—with its own temporary streets that now host major fast food chains’ vendors and automotive suppliers venues. Many motorcoach makers also populate Hammertown to display their latest mutl-hundred thousand dollar liveries to this large and well-targeted collection of potential buyers.

C​asey Gilbert ascends part of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

C​asey Gilbert ascends part of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

Magnus Sigurdsson approaching a crest of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

Magnus Sigurdsson approaching a crest of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

T​om Wayes approaches a crest of a Cougar Buttes pass on Lap 1

T​om Wayes approaches a crest of a Cougar Buttes pass on Lap 1

Like every sport there are those who excel and become a pantheon of champions and favored contestants to doff the King of the Hammer crown. The likes of the Campbell family, the Gonzalez brothers, Erik Miller, Loren Healy and Jason Schere are such royalty.

K​ing of the Hammers Champion Erik Miller ascends part of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

K​ing of the Hammers Champion Erik Miller ascends part of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

K​ing of the Hammers Champion Loren Healy attacks Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

K​ing of the Hammers Champion Loren Healy attacks Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

R​aul Gomez descends part of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

R​aul Gomez descends part of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

M​arcos Gomez carves part of Not Her Problem on Lap 2

M​arcos Gomez carves part of Not Her Problem on Lap 2

Although the week-long desert bohemian bacchanal includes a diversity of contests for motorcycles, ATVs, stock 4WDs (called “Everymans”) and the Mickey Thompson created trophy trucks, the aforementioned royalty participate in the ultimate class of KOH warriors: “Ultra 4”. These vehicles are custom-designed and fabricated to achieve remarkable performance through each of the multiple 90mile laps of King of the Hammers that includes long expanses of the desert floor, sandy hills and valleys and virtually impossible rock climbs that would seem only passible by a mountain goat--or a Sikorsky. Ultra 4’s have ersatz Lunar Rover style chassis, 800hp engines (LS variants being the most popular), both solid and independent suspension with shock towers as tall as a child with 40” size tires attached—all of which to achieve 120mph+ speeds on the desert floor, traverse sandy hills and crawl over insanely difficult rock climbs.

Michael Ayersman powers through part of Not Her Problem on Lap 2

Michael Ayersman powers through part of Not Her Problem on Lap 2

Bernd Schaefer speeds through part of Not Her Problem on Lap 2

Bernd Schaefer speeds through part of Not Her Problem on Lap 2

R​usty Byler navigates the start of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

R​usty Byler navigates the start of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

T​im Hooper at the start of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

T​im Hooper at the start of Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

B​ailey Cole attacks the start of the base ascent to Chocolate Thunder on Lap 1

B​ailey Cole attacks the start of the base ascent to Chocolate Thunder on Lap 1

A​ndrew McLaughlin attacks Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

A​ndrew McLaughlin attacks Chocolate Thunder on Lap 2

C​ameron Steele speeds through the start of Chocolat Thunder on Lap 2

C​ameron Steele speeds through the start of Chocolat Thunder on Lap 2

J​ayson Blanton crests part of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

J​ayson Blanton crests part of Cougar Buttes on Lap 1

Shown here are some of the aforementioned “Hammer” royalty in their various Ultra4’s who competed in this year’s King of the Hammers fete. They are rightfully revered by the hundreds of thousands who attend and the millions throughout the world who are erstwhile Hammertownians.

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Comments (2)

  • The difference with Royce, is that not only do get fantastic images, you get the background, history, the backstory, and fore story. He also builds up my vocabulary, hahaha. Well done once again!

      21 days ago
    • David! So good to hear from you! Thanks for your kindness and generosity and glad you enjoy the work. Thanks for making it possible to capture your fantastic Ford GT40 and sure hope to see you soon! Legacy is in the works for July 12!

        21 days ago
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