Lifted trucks, Jeeps, UTVs, and even golf karts – Hammertown doesn’t hold back.
King of The Hammers is an off-road racing event best described as a mix between Burning Man and Gridlife, minus the drift cars. Held on a dried-up lakebed in Johnson Valley, California, KOH is one of the most gruelling off-road races in North America, with drivers covering close to 300 miles during the event.
But more on the actual race in another post; today I want look at another aspect of King of The Hammers.
After the day’s racing is concluded, the real party begins. 60,000 spectators flock onto the course and attempt to conquer some of the obstacles it has to offer.
I decided to see what this unique pastime was about and joined the masses heading to the hills.Onwards & Upwards
I had two obstacle choices for the evening: Backdoor or Chocolate Thunder. Being a KOH first-timer, I thought it best to ask the advice of the locals.
I stopped to chat with a group of friendly, plaid-clad and whiskey-touting seasoned veterans of the event, and the short PG-rated answer was something along the lines of ‘Backdoor gets freaking (insert many other words here) buck wild!’
Backdoor it was then.
Reaching the location wasn’t too hard: I turned the rental car’s traction control off, ensured RWD was selected, fastened my seatbelt, and then mashed the gas on what only a few hours before was a live race course, heading for a mass of flickering lights on the side of a mountain.
Once there, a short hike through a maze of rocks and sand led us right up to the weekend warriors that, for all intents and purposes, were full-out either getting to the top of the obstacle or willing to destroy their vehicles trying.Follow The Leader
Rock bouncing is all about who can reach the top of the said obstacle in the least amount of time and attempts, combined with some style and action to ensure the onlookers are entertained.
As I got to the top of Backdoor, one of the first challengers had already made it to the top, and a queue of other challengers were lining up at the base of the hill.
The next truck that tackled the climb made it look easy. It rapidly scaled the course and slammed itself against rock face after boulder, and climbed up and over it, giving a few spectators a close-up view of the action.Thank You, Next
With two trucks perched on top of the rocks above Backdoor, a rig that I believe started life as a Jeep Cherokee decided to tackle the rock face.
After the numerous unsuccessful attempts to bounce up the rocks, and with escalating taunts from the crowd, the driver had a choice to make: Go big or go home.
He chose to go big, which started off well but quickly went belly up. Thankfully, no one was injured and the crowd cheered as the remains of the Jeep scraped to a stop against the rocks.
The next mission was for the recovery team to drag the vehicle out of the rocks by inflicting the least amount of extra damage.
The Jeep, beaten and bruised, lay on its side wedged on some boulders, but the team were able to use a winch to set it right side up and then pushed it down back down the hill.
With the temperatures quickly dipping to near freezing, a rowdy crowd growing wilder, and a 5:30am wake-up call, I called it a night.
If you haven’t attended a King of The Hammers, you’re not just missing out on intense racing and unrivalled access, you’re missing out on one hell of a show.