by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor

Early February in the Jeep/Off-Road racing world means King of the Hammers, which actually has nothing to do with hammers at all and everything to do with high-speed desert racing combined with extreme rock crawling.

It is certainly not for those weak of heart, and the week-long event in the Southern California desert at Johnson Valley features many different daily races—culminating in a Friday ‘King of the Hammers’ competition many believe is the toughest one-day off-road race on the planet. It also draws tens of thousands to Johnson Valley to witness all kinds of excitement and carnage among the desert and rocks.

The key characteristic for any driver who wants to enter a vehicle in the race, is the machine must be capable of four-wheel-drive. Beyond that is just choosing the respective class:

4400 which are the heavily modified racing trucks that are purpose-built for these kind of events, and can push out over 700 horsepower while being able to tackle extremely technical terrain.

4500 which are modified versions of production vehicles, where any kind of engine and transmission can be used, but the vehicle still needs to look like the original mass-produced version. They are also limited to 37-inch tires.

4600 which is the stock class, limited to 35-inch tires and the vehicle’s original motor, transmission, frame and suspension.

4800 which is the legends category—basically retired 4x4 vehicles which must still have two seats, front engine, shocks in each corner and solid axles.

4900 which are production side-by-side vehicles modified to be 1,000 ccs or less, and upgraded with body armor as well as other safety features.

Wednesday’s Every Man Challenge during King of the Hammers week featured 125 drivers in three of these classes—4500, 4600 and 4800—and required them to negotiate a 143-mile course over two laps throughout most of Johnson Valley. Some of it was high-speed open-desert racing, while the remainder forced all drivers up numerous unforgiving rocky climbs and down into nasty canyons.

In the end, Brad Lovell and co-driver Roger Lovell snagged first place with a race time of 4 hours, 53 minutes, and 12 seconds.

That finish was just a tick ahead of second place finisher Seth Van Dyke, who ended up merely 30 seconds behind the winner.


Top Jeep Articles

  • August 5, 2020
  • 14 min read
How To Install Method Race Wheels MR106 Beadlock Wheels
Designed to be strong and light, these beadlock rims allow for extra low tire pressure when off-roading so you'll have the ultimate in traction and performance.
  • August 5, 2020
  • 5 min read
Differences Between Factory Style and Frameless Soft Tops
Frameless soft tops are a popular option these days and do have some differences from the factory soft top.
  • July 29, 2020
  • 13 min read
Overlanding Education Just As Important As Products, Vehicles
Knowing how to respect the land is a serious responsibility that everyone should accept when heading out on an overlanding adventure.
  • July 29, 2020
  • 9 min read
How To Install And Use A Tuff Mudder Performance Alternator
Factory Jeep Wrangler alternators just do not have the overall amps to handle additional power needs when winches, auxiliary lighting, fridge freezers, or other power-drawing mods are added on the vehicle.
  • July 23, 2020
  • 11 min read
Jeep Cooler and Fridge Freezer Buying Guide
Whether you are headed on an overnight camping trip, a weekend adventure, or something a bit longer, Jeep coolers and fridge freezers give you exactly what you need to keep food and drink just the right temperature.
  • July 22, 2020
  • 6 min read
How To Take Care Of Your Jeep Soft Top
All it takes is a little love and you'll get years worth of return from your Jeep soft top.
  • July 16, 2020
  • 26 min read
Ford Launches New Bronco To Challenge Wrangler Marketplace Dominance
New offering brings back popular older nameplate with a bunch of upgraded features.
  • July 13, 2020
  • 5 min read
Jeep Unveils New V-8-Powered Wrangler Concept
New Wrangler 392 concept may actually bring V-8 production engine to market depending on fans' response.
  • July 11, 2020
  • 3 min read
Jeep Aims To Steal Bronco Spotlight With Wrangler V8 HEMI Tease
Twitter image displays '392' on Wrangler (or Gladiator) hood to reflect powerful HEMI V8 engine.