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Our 2022 King of the Hammers Experience. (Part 1 of 3)

KOH 2022? The Best One Yet.

The 2022 KOH race course was arguably the best yet: with an even combination of challenging desert and relentless rock trails, the course layout was designed to please both spectators and racers alike. More importantly, both of our race vehicles functioned much better than in years past. With hundreds of miles of pre-running, our race day preparation far exceeded that of our previous two KOHs combined. Even though we didn’t secure a total course finish in either class (more details below), we’re completely at ease with the way the race panned out.

-Team Draco Motorsports

Before We Dive In.

Leading up to this event, we spent hundreds of hours prepping both vehicles for the Big Day. We couldn’t be more satisfied with the way both vehicles turned out- especially with the matching paint schemes, both vehicles were total head-turners when driven together. As far as overall professionalism goes, this was surely a milestone towards our long-term aspirations in racing.

Even more importantly, we made great strides toward developing durable race vehicles. Every race and every season leaves us with a novel of lessons and to-dos, having finally applied most of these for the 2022 King of the Hammers was a monstrous advantages over years past.

Now Let’s Dive In.

As always, the trip out to King of the Hammers is a restless one. Something about the twenty hour drive, hauling multiple trailers, and thousands of miles of poorly-maintained highways makes for the ultimate combination of pucker factor. Every year that we make this haul something happens along the way and let me tell you, 2022 was no exception. We had issues on both legs of the trip- on the haul out to Johnson Valley we accidentally blew up our fresh water tank on the RV and on the haul back to Colorado, we lost the transmission in one of our tow vehicles. The difficulty of this race begins long before the green flag drops.

Arriving at Hammertown

Making it in to Hammertown is often a struggle in itself. Depending on when you arrive, you may find yourself stuck in a massive line of other racers attempting to check in. Once you make it through the gates, you then have to navigate washboard roads, unpredictable cross-traffic, and the thickest dirt haze you’ve ever seen until you stumble through either Gate 1 or Gate 5 to your ‘garage’ location. Even though we pulled in horribly late on Thursday night, it worked to our advantage as we avoided most of the aforementioned chaos.

Prerunning Begins

Look, when it comes to this event there’s no shortage of strategy. Prerunning, for starters, is a perfect instance of this. Prerun too much and you risk irreparable damage ahead of qualifying and race day. Prerun too little, or none at all, and you will certainly seal your fate come race day (expect confusion, chaos, and likely carnage). There’s a fine line to be had here- the bottom line? Get out and prerun.

For the first time ever, we preran nearly all of the desert. After a serious mishap last year, we made sure to mark all the g-out locations and regions to watch on our Lowrance GPS. I genuinely can not stress this enough- if you’re racing King of the Hammers, you need to run the desert once in prerunning at an absolute minimum. The desert is a very scary place for the uninformed and inexperienced on race day.

What We Did and What Happened.

  • (x2) 3/4 runs of the desert lap and cougar buttes.
  • Greg (428 Can-Am) rolled the car in the V-Notch following cougar buttes at night.
  • Ran about 3/4 (at least for UTV) of the rock trails. Jack Hammer, Jack North, Her Problem, Idle Issues, Chocolate Thunder (actually bypassed this one- see below), Wrecking Ball, Full of Hate, Daydreams.
  • Trails that we did NOT run: Aftershock, Spooners, Outer Limits, Sledge Hammer, Claw Hammer, + any/all of the lap 3 stuff for 4400.

Helpful Notes from Prerunning vs Race-Day

  • Prerun everything in-order, as far as the rock trails go. Otherwise, what happens is that the transitions are unfamiliar on race day and things get confusing.
  • If your prerunning and something looks less-than-straightforward, get out and scope lines. Putting eyes on obstacles/trails outside of the vehicle is so valuable. What often happens is that when a car gets stuck on the line that you were planning to take (super common), your plan goes to hell pretty quick. Have a plan and have a backup for every trail.
  • If something seems sketchy pre-running, such as overly off-camber or room for error, get out and look at it. Then figure out what happened, get back in the car, and run it again until you nail it. We failed to do this in the V-Notch following Cougar Buttes and rolled the 4400 on race day. This is a terrible spot for self-recovery. Don’t make that mistake.

Greg Torney View All

Driver of the #428 Draco Motorsports Polaris RZR. Co-Driver for the #804 Can-Am X3 during King of the Hammers. Ultra4!!

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