King of the Hammers is the Daytona 500 of off-road racing. Ultra4Racing premier event that takes place in Johnson Valley, CA. Going to King of the Hammers is to some off-road enthusiasts dream destination. Every year just after the Christmas holiday season, my thoughts turn to KOH. It’s a full week of racing events, and as much off-road fun as you can possibly imagine. Some have described it as the “Burning Man” for off-roaders. A 4×4 off-road culture experience, the types of vehicles and people you see is just plain crazy. You won’t find a more diverse gathering of off-road enthusiasts anywhere.
What is King of the Hammers
The toughest single-day off-road race in the world, King of the Hammers. It has become the largest off-road race event in North America. KOH has both the most spectators and the most competitors in an off-road event. Ultra4 racing is the combination of desert racing and rock crawling. With the first single race in 2007 now expanding to a series of 5 races held over an entire week. Dave Cole and Jeff Knoll founded King of the Hammers in 2007 after the classic idea on a napkin. These two founders decided to have a test race of sorts without spectators. There were only 12 teams at this first race, a friends and bros invitational race. They are now referred to as the OG13.
Past KOH Champions
All past winners, or Kings, are invited back. All they have to do is pass current tech and safety guidelines provided by Ultra4 Racing.
- 2007: JR Reynolds
- 2008: Shannon Campbell
- 2009: Jason Scherer
- 2010: Loren Healy
- 2011: Shannon Campbell
- 2012: Erik Miller
- 2013: Randy Slawson
- 2014: Loren Healy
- 2015: Randy Slawson
- 2016: Erik Miller
- 2017: Shannon Campbell
- 2018: Jason Scherer
- 2019: Jason Scherer
- 2020: Josh Blyler
- 2021: Randy Slawson
KOH/Ultra4 Race Vehicles
First off these are amazing race machines that have come a long way since 2007 in that first OG13 race. The race cars in the top-class are called unlimited 4400. These modern off-road race cars cost well over six figures. Race cars that are capable of reaching speeds over 100 mph in the flat desert sections of Johnson Valley.
Straight Axle or (IFS) Independent Front Suspension
Most all these vehicles are custom built and fabricated by each team. The traditional design choice or most common front-end drive-train is the straight axle. This what two-time king Eric Miller and 2020 King Josh Byler use. Straight axles are similar to what you see on Jeep wranglers or full size 3/4 ton trucks. Independent front suspension has become a popular design and is said to be superior for the high-speed sections of the KOH racecourse. This IFS design is what three-time kings Shannon Campbell and Jason Scherer use. This top-class does have a few restrictions. A maximum of 800hp naturally aspirated engines and 40″ tall tires are two examples of these restrictions.
34°24′12″N 116°35′33″W Johnson Valley OHV Area, a BLM managed land area that hosts King of the Hammers each year. you can enter from several different areas. From Highway 247 at Old Woman Springs Road or Camp Rock Road, 55 miles southeast of Barstow. Most visitors enter the area off of Camp Rock Road by driving north off of Highway 247. Staging for competitive events is at Anderson Dry Lake, 10 miles north of Highway 247 and east of Camp Rock Road. please be aware of your surroundings at all times these are graded dirt roads, RV’s, and trailers can easily travel on them. King of the Hammer’s main camping is off of Boone Road and is the southernmost entrance into Johnson Valley OHV area. Base camp or “Hammertown” is located on means Dry lake bed.
Going to King of the Hammers
King of the Hammers an overload of off-road with a whole lot of fun mixed in. If you are wanting to go to KOH here are some tips on surviving and having a good time. Below are a few tips to help aid in your KOH experience. Please respect the BLM rules it will help you have a more enjoyable time going to the King of the Hammers event.
What you need
- Clothing, the weather in Johnson Valley in early February can vary a great bit. In some years the KOH week has been nice and warm mid 70’s. However, others or at night (it is the desert) have been a freezing dust storm. Likewise, with any vacation or trip check the weather prior to starting your adventure. In conclusion, pack like your wife and bring plenty of clothing options.
- Food & Water there are a few places to eat if you are just out for the day. If you are camping bring plenty of food and especially water.
- Goggles or some sort of good eye protection. When you get 10,000+ of your closest fellow off-road enthusiasts all in one place, it gets VERY dusty. be prepared!
- Your brain, yes this is a fun event to see and to experience, but be smart about how you treat BLM lands. Bring trash bags to haul all of your trash out with you. If you bringing your favorite adult beverage, remember there is no glass container policy within the Johnson Valley OHV area. Do not bring firewood with nails (no pallets). In conclusion, if you at all have an interest in this event then you probably love the outdoors and our country’s public lands. PLEASE treat them with respect and leave it better than you found it!
Visit Ultra4Racing.com for more information on King of the Hammers.