2021 Optima Batteries King of the Hammers Presented by Lasernut Race Week is in its kick-off. Saturday 30th January will start this incredible week that takes us to the main event on Saturday 6th February: the King of the Hammers race known as the world's hardest one day off-road race. In this article you will find out the day by day schedule of the KOH Week.
Just when you thought that the OPTIMA Batteries King of the Hammers Presented by Lasernut couldn’t get any better, they have added a host of desert races to an action-packed week of racing that includes motorcycles, UTVs, the 4WP Every Man Challenge, and culminates on Saturday, February 6th with the 14th King of the Hammers race. Prerunning starts on Thursday, January 28th in preparation for the Toyo Desert Challenge on Saturday, January 30th and Sunday, January 31st. The action doesn’t stop there, in fact KOH is just kicking into high gear with qualifying on Monday, February 1st, Tuesday, February 2nd, and Wednesday, February 3rd.
When the sun goes down the action continues with the Holley EFi Shootout Presented by King Shocks & Action Sports Canopies on Monday night and the Pit Crew Challenge presented by Pro Eagle and Buggy Whips on Tuesday night. Racing through the infamous Hammer trails occurs on Tuesday, February 2nd for the All Balls Racing King of the Motos, Thursday, February 4th for the Can-AM UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive Insurance, Friday, February 4th for the 4WP Every Man Challenge, and for the first time on a Saturday, the OPTIMA Batteries King of the Hammers Presented by Lasernut.
Concerned about COVID-19? Hammerking Productions has taken every possible precaution to ensure a safe, responsible environment during King of the Hammers. Access to Hammertown requires a negative COVID test and adherence to increased safety guidelines. Everyone must wear a face covering, wash their hands regularly, and practice social distancing as aligned with State and Local guidelines. Hand sanitizer stations, ample signage and additional cleaning procedures will be provided throughout Hammertown. More information can be found at: https://www.ultra4racing.com/2021-king-hammers-covid-general-information.
2021 Optima Batteries King of the Hammers Presented by Lasernut Day-By-Day, Play-By-Play
For those who can’t make the pilgrimage to Means Dry Lakebed, stay home and join the extended community of over two+ million people by following the live coverage and participating in live chats all week long at https://ultra4racing.com/live.
Saturday, January 30, 2021: The Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy B2 vs B3 Grudge Match
This race is something that has been argued from behind a keyboard for years, but KOH is finally bringing it to life. B3 UTVs start behind B2 cars at desert races, but a look at the results reveals that the top B3 teams often finish ahead of all of the B2 cars. So which are truly faster? We are going to find out once and for all with qualifying for starting positions. B2 cars use sealed Ecotec engines and transaxles, with many of the top teams running sequential six speed transmissions. They have unlimited suspension, typically consisting of a coilover and bypass shock at each corner. By contrast, B3/UTV technology is less mature but improving by leaps and bounds each year. B3s have similar horsepower but use a CVT with a belt instead of a transaxle. They have a single shock at each corner (typically an internal bypass coilover). 2WD B2s have the advantage on whooped out desert courses but give up time to the 4WD B3s in sandy and rocky terrain. Expect all of these course elements at this race to test both driver and machine. Total prize purse for the Grudge Match is $85,000.
Saturday night, January 30, 2021: EMPI Class 11 Showdown, presented by Baja Jerky
Always a favorite with the fans, it is amazing to see these VW Bugs get air time and survive lap after lap. Modifications are limited and the class requires full body and fenders, 1600cc engines, and even original drum brakes. Don’t let that fool you into thinking these vehicles are slow though, expect a fierce battle for the $20,000 purse in this race.
Sunday, January 31, 2021: The Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy T1 Desert Invitational
What do desert racers want? Big purses, racing close to home in California, and a safe race environment where they don’t have to worry about lap traffic with smaller and slower vehicles. The Toyo Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy delivers all of that and more with the biggest names in desert racing competing for an $80,000 purse. These trucks don’t have to worry about scaling the rocks of Johnson Valley, but starting position is a serious issue in the technical terrain of Johnson Valley where passing opportunities are limited. T1 drivers will run a timed prologue one at a time to determine starting position for the main race later that day. Unlike most desert race qualifiers, rather than a two-mile short course this prologue will take place on a 40-mile loop comprised of actual race course. Teams will have very little time between the qualifier and main race to let their T1 trucks cool down and make any necessary repairs or changes before taking the green flag for the 304-mile race.
Sunday, January 31, 2021: The Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy B1 vs T2 Battle on the Lakebed
B1 cars use a rear engine with a transaxle, but are otherwise unlimited with regards to engine power and suspension modifications. In contrast, T2 trucks must be front engine with a sealed engine package, and use a TH400 transmission and 9-inch based solid rear axle. Rules have recently been relaxed to allow for more power engine options, underdrives, and 40-inch tall tires that have T2s contesting with B1s in the overall standings. Both classes are packed with talent, making this truly anyone’s race. Total prize purse is $85,000.
Monday, February 1, 2021: Qualifying for Can-AM UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive Insurance
For the fifth year, qualifying will determine the starting order for the Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive Insurance. This race has exploded in popularity, and UTVs are once again the largest class at KOH with well over 100 entries. Qualifying will start at 9 AM and conclude at 5 PM, with drivers situated in one-hour blocks to allow them as much time as possible to prerun and prepare for the race without having to wait in line for qualifying. Some drivers are conservative, while others will give it everything to gain starting position. Note that qualifying for all the races besides the 4400 race during KOH week is optional, and teams can decline to qualify and take a rear start in their race.
Monday night, February 1, 2021: The Holley EFi Shootout and The Lasernut Rock Coronation
Arguably as action-packed as KOH itself, people come early in the week to Hammertown just to watch the Shootout. On Monday night, rigs ranging from homebuilt buggies to high horsepower rock bouncers from Southern Rock Racing Series (SRRS) compete for the fastest time up a huge vertical rock ledge. Originally an impromptu gathering at the Backdoor obstacle, the Shootout will be held just to the south of Chocolate Thunder. Since these drivers go for broke (and often get there) and recovery can be time consuming, the brand new Lasernut Rock Coronation has been added for 2021. This event will consist of the best rockcrawlers in the world attempting to be first to run a brand-new trail adjacent to the Shootout course. Total prize purse is $12,500 with $7,500 going to the fastest time.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021: All Balls Racing King of the Motos and Qualifying for 4WP Every Man Challenge
Justin Leineweber returns as Course Director for the most technically challenging motorcycle race in the world. Part desert race, part trials competition, all badass. The All Balls Racing King of the Motos is back again for 2021 with professional, District 37, and amateur riders all duking it out on the same course. It’s the only hard enduro in North America that uses GPS which adds an extra challenge. The format starts with a single six-mile lap in the morning to determine starting position for those who want more punishment. The afternoon will have competitors making as many passes over a 14-mile lap as possible. This course is so difficult it is expected that the winner will only complete three laps! With European riders sitting this one out due to travel restrictions, look for Trystan Hart and Max Gerston to challenge Cody Webb for the win. Total prize for King of the Motos is $15,000.
2020- Cody Webb
2019- No race
2018- Cody Webb
2017- Colton Haaker
2016- Cody Webb
2015- Colton Haaker
2014- Cody Webb
2013- Cody Webb
2012- Graham Jarvis
Qualifying for the 4WP Every Man Challenge will take place all day on Tuesday on the qualifying track adjacent to Hammertown. Starting order is mixed between the Yukon 4500 Modified and Branik Motorsports 4800 Legends classes, which have distinct rules but are closely matched in speeds and capabilities. The more limited Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class start after 4500 and 4800, but despite strict rules these vehicles keep getting faster and more capable each year. Close competition makes starting order critical! Competitors in the EMC race against other vehicles in their class, but that is little consolation when stuck on the trail behind a vehicle in another class, making qualifying key.
Tuesday night, February 2, 2021: The Pit Crew Challenge presented by Pro Eagle, Boxo Tools and Buggy Whips
Returning this year is the Pit Crew Challenge, which pits (no pun intended) teams against each other in a timed competition to see who can change tires and fuel the fastest. If you aren’t on the lakebed yet to watch this in person, you will definitely want to follow the Pit Crew Challenge on the live show at ultra4racing.com/live.
Wednesday February 3, 2021: Qualifying and Last Chance Qualifier for King of the Hammers
Rather than determining starting order at random, a shortened course near Hammertown is used to establish the fastest vehicles in the front when the green flag drops on race day. The route contains all of the elements of KOH, just in a bite-sized package. Live streaming of the biggest names takes place during the “Power Hour” at 4 PM, but the action lasts all day long.
Last Chance Qualifier
There are a variety of ways to pre-qualify for KOH, including past performance at the event and sanctioned Ultra4 races throughout the season. These drivers qualify for starting position on race day, but there are others for whom the stakes are much higher. The Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) provides an opportunity for entry to the top 25% of the LCQ field. Sounds impossible? Both Loren Healy and Randy Slawson have won KOH in the past after earning their spot in the big show through the LCQ.
Thursday, February 4, 2021: Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive Insurance
A decade ago, they were lucky if one vehicle finished the UTV King of the Hammers race. Today though the top competitors are faster than many EMC vehicles with larger tires and engines. Factory turbochargers, locking differentials, and internal bypass shocks allow even mildly modified UTVs to be incredibly capable, as Hunter Miller demonstrated last year in his Can-Am Maverick X3. The vehicles aren’t the only thing that are capable, with arguably the most talented crop of drivers at KOH. UTVs are now the biggest class at KOH, with big names from desert racing, short course, and Ultra4 classes mixing it up with racers who live and breathe UTVs 24/7 all year long. 1st place overall will take home an impressive $25,000 check.
2020- Hunter Miller
2019- Mitch Guthrie Jr.
2018- Mitch Guthrie Jr.
2017- Shannon Campbell
2016- Blake Van De Loo
2015- Mitch Guthrie
2014- Mitch Guthrie
2013- Mitch Guthrie
2012- Mitch Guthrie
2011- Brandon Schueler
2010- Mitch Guthrie
2009- Mitch Guthrie
Friday, February 5, 2021: 4WP Every Man Challenge
The EMC contains three classes: the Yukon 4500 Modified Class, the Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class, and the Branik Motorsports 4800 Legends Class. Legends is one of the fastest growing classes at KOH (second only to UTVs), with close competition at every race. Each class has specific rules to ensure a level playing field, making the EMC a true drivers’ race. The EMC will run the same first two laps at the 4400 class, but must do so on DOT-approved tires. With a course that goes up notoriously difficult trails including Jackhammer and Bender Alley in 2021, expect traffic jams, breakage, and non-stop action. Total prize purse for the 4WP EMC is $30,000.
4500- Factory appearing body, partial frame, mechanical steering, two shocks per corner, 37-inch DOT-approved tires.
4600- Factory engine, stock frame, full body, single shock, 35-inch tall DOT-approved tires.
4800- Front engine, two seat, solid axle, single shock, 37-inch DOT-approved tires.
Past Winners (Overall)-
2020- Brad and Roger Lovell
2019- Casey Gilbert
2018- Dan Fresh
2017- Brad and Roger Lovell
2016- Brad and Roger Lovell
2015- Brandon Currie
2014- John Currie
2013- John Currie and Gerald Lee
2012- John Currie and Gerald Lee
Past Winners (4500)-
2020- Dan Fresh
2019- Jimmy Jack
2018- Dan Fresh
2017- Marty Mann
2016- Jessi Combs
2015- Brandon Currie
2014- John Currie
2013- John Currie
Past Winners (4600)-
2020- Jesse Haines
2019- Justin Reece
2018- Jessi Combs
2017- Ben Varozza
2016- Brian Behrend
2015- Matthew Peterson
2014- Erik Miller
2013- Matthew Peterson
2012- John Currie
Past Winners (4800)-
2020- Brad Lovell
2019- Casey Gilbert
2018- Casey Gilbert
2017- Brad Lovell
2016- Brad Lovell
2015- Ben Napier
2014- Brad Lovell
Saturday, February 6, 2021: The 2021 OPTIMA Batteries King of the Hammers Presented by Lasernut
The big show has been moved to Saturday to make room for even more racing action. For twelve years the same five drivers won King of the Hammers, but Josh Blyler ended their winning streak last year. Can he repeat as King this year? Expect a more challenging course than ever, with the addition last year’s Hell to Pay and a new trail ominously named King’s Graveyard. The course also goes up Jackhammer, Sledgehammer, Outer Limits, Backdoor, Wrecking Ball, and Bender Alley for 2021. Going up these Hammer trails makes them far more challenging with gravity working against you instead of with you, favoring solid axle cars such as those used by Blyler, Erik Miller, and Randy Slawson. Before they get to the rocks though, these competitors will have to survive over 100 miles of desert terrain that has been whooped out by a week of racing, working to the advantage of cars with independent front suspension favored by drivers such as Jason Scherer, Shannon Campbell, and Paul Horschel.
The prize purse? $125,001 with $65,000 going to first and $1 going for the last finisher.
2020- Josh Blyler and Jared Erdman
2019- Jason Scherer and Jason Berger
2018- Jason Scherer and Jason Berger
2017- Shannon Campbell
2016- Erik Miller and Robert Ruggiero
2015- Randy Slawson and Michael Slawson
2014- Loren Healy and Casey Trujillo
2013- Randy Slawson and Michael Slawson
2012- Erik Miller and Robert Ruggiero
2011- Shannon Campbell
2010- Loren Healy and Rodney Woody
2009- Jason Scherer and Jason Berger
2008- Shannon Campbell
2007- JR Reynolds and Randy Slawson