2017 King Of the Hammers

For the second year in a row, the journaldu4x4.com is going to California to cover the King of the Hammers, south east of Los Angeles, right next to the Joshua Tree park. This mythical race is most definitely the harshest, demanding on the cars and the drivers and also biggest one day race in the world.

This magazine was the first french media outlet to be on the spot, and this year again, the Journaldu4x4 is the only french outlet to cover the event. Nicolas travelled with the Ultra4 Europe delegation, with Paolo Baraldi. This year, the media team will get access to a massive tent outfitted with wifi, heater and killer cookies in the evening. Also, we got access to a great base camp, a giant 38’ RV !

Friday is the big day, the main race, the 4400 King of the Hammers race with unlimited cars battling for victory. Thus, we have to plan carefully to bring various pictures from said race. Backpacks are loaded, batteries charged, DSLR cameras cleaned up and there we are, gone for a full day of shooting.

JT Taylor, race director and Dave Cole ULTRA4 director and owner.

Erik Miller, winner of the 2016 edition is handling the scepter to Shannon Campbell, le new King

Wayland Cambell, 2nd

Jason Scherer, 3rd

The King of the Hammers route:

It consists of a total of 181 race miles, starting at 8AM, with a cutoff at 10PM.
The 122 Unlimited racers leave side by side, every 30 seconds. They take off for a first, fast lap, located mainly in the desert of the Johnson Valley.
Che the last cars leave the line around 8.30AM, a fierce battle is already happening up front, Loren Healy leading the pack. Shannon Campbell, Jason Scherer and Erik Miller following closely.

The first turn of events happened soon after when a fire started in Healy’s car luckily injuring no-one.

The fight is still making rage with, in order Scherer, Wayes, Campbell and Eril Miller.

Around 9.30AM, Scherer drops down Backdoor first, closely followed by Wayes. Then they hurry up to they respective pits in Hammertown. It took them roughly 1h30 to lap the first loop.
While their dust isn’t settled yet, Wayland Cambell, Randy Slawson and Erik Miller arrive next.

The second lap is shorter but harder. Many more miles are located in the treacherous rock sections of the Valley. The cars jump, ready to tackle another 56 miles.

Around 10AM, the 10 leading cars are placed very tight and their times are all within 5mn.

  • 1. Tom Wayes
  • 2. Jason Scherer
  • 3. Marcos Gomez
  • 4. Randy Slawson
  • 5. Wayland Campbell
  • 6. Pete Antunac
  • 7. Erik Miller
  • 8. Derren Henke
  • 9. Lucas Murphy
  • 10. Levi Shirley

At 10.20AM, Shannon Campbell is sitting on 6th place thanks to a great move in the Aftershock trail, and when reaching Chocolate Thunder, Wayland Cambell is occupying the 3rd spot behind Wayes and Scherer. The 5th first cars seem to have a comfortable lead on the followers.

They take on the third lap, same rock sections again, but this time some new ones have been added. Just because difficulty was enough already. It’s the King of the Hammers after all!

The order of arrival in the pits is modified again ! Scherer, Wayland Campbell and Wayes with a 8 mn gap. Shannon just got 4th place by taking over Erik Miller.

This is the standings at 12.08AM. Nothing is played yet, it feels like we’re watching a musical chairs game and the general pace of the race is absolutely ludicrous!

  • 1. Tom Wayes
  • 2. Shannon Campbell (à 9 minutes)
  • 3. Wayland Campbell
  • 4. Jason Scherer
  • 5. Clay Gilstrap
  • 6. Erik Miller
  • 7. Lucas Murphy

At 12.58AM, Wayes encounters some mechanical issues, Shannon and Wayland pass him. Scherer comes back charging and Miller keeps reducing the distance with the people in front of him.

At 1.34AM : nothing is over yet.

 1. Jason Scherer

 2. Wayland Campbell

 3. Shannon Campbell

 4. Erik Miller

 5. Lucas Murphy

The last miles are raced in an incredible duel for the head of the race. And this time, everything is going to happen in the Campbell Family. Wayland and his father Shannon are going to battle hard, as no-one is ready to let it go and settle for the 2nd place. Dropping down Backdoor, less than 5 miles to the finish line, Shannon Campbell slices his tire, then blows it away on a rock. Taking advantage of this, Wayland takes over and hammers down, while Shannon is charging hard to keep up with the pace his son is impulsing to this incredible finish, rolling on three tires and a wheel.
Wayland crosses the finish line at 2.47PM, followed in his dust by his father, a few seconds behind. After the times are corrected, Shannon, who left a starting line a few minutes after his son, is declared the winner of the race, barely beating Wayland by less than 30 seconds (28 to be exact)!
At 2.50PM, Scherer takes 3rd place.

In the next few minutes, hours, other competitors make it to the finish. Randy Slawson will be the last one to cross the line right before the cutoff at 10PM.
This year has been incredible, and marked a real change in this competition. It’s been the fastest, the hardest of all the King of the Hammers, but incredibly, 50 vehicles (roughly 40% of the competition) made it up all the way to the end. Last year, they were 30 to finish, and 13% in 2015!

Note that Jessie Combs and Bailey Campbell’s car both will finish the race. Bailey had to let her co-driver take her spot behind the wheel after a light neck injury during a rollover.
Josh Blyler ended up taking a top 10 spot for his first time racing KOH, what a great way to earn points as a Rookie!
The level of cars and drivers didn’t not stop increasing. Ever. And last year, the TireBalls (little air sacs that go inside the tires and prevent total deflation in case of puncture or flat) have been outlawed. As a result, the race strategy and cars will evolve again with this new rule in place.

Quotes from the day:

Shannon Campbell : « It’s the best day of my life! I finished on the first step of the podium with my son right next to me on the second spot and my daughter finished the race ! »

Levi Shirley : «  The King Of the Hammers is a survival game. You have to manage yourself to even hope finishing. But this year it turned into a sprint from Start to Finish ! »

Erik Miller : «  This edition was the harshest. We’ve never seen anything like that! »

Backdoor et un peu de sable

Le classement du king Of the Hammers 2017

  1 Shannon Campbell

  2 Wayland Campbell

  3 Jason Scherer

  4 Erik Miller

  5 J.P. Gomez

  6 Josh Blyler

  7 Levi Shirley

  8 Cody Waggoner

  9 Clay Gilstrap

  10 Raul Gomez

  11 Tony Pellegrino

  12 Jessi Combs

  13 Pete Antunac

  14 Jason Shipman

  15 Dustin Isenhour

  16 Corey Kuchta

  17 Jeff Russell

  18 Keenan Leatherwood

  19 Matt Trebino

  20 Jon Cagliero

  21 Don Fisher

  22 Tom Wayes

  23 Ben Swain

  24 Shad Kennedy

  25 Jason Bond Waits

  26 Bailey Campbell

  27 Darrell Gray

  28 Michael Heston

  29 Bryan Maloney

  30 Doug Jackson

  31 Jason Blanton

  32 Greg Adler

  33 Chad Wheeler

  34 Mark Danzo

  35 George Pronesti

  36 George Schooley

  37 Rod Kaven

  38 John Webb

  39 Kenneth Goodall

  40 Casey Currie

  41 Fabio Manno

  42 Widodo/Vorazza

  43 Brian Wood

  44 Jeff Brown

  45 Bailey Cole

  46 Kevin Yoder

  47 Brian Tilton

  48 Chris May

  49 Derek West

  50 Randy Slawson


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