There is no denying that the volume of UTVs are taking over the desert. The Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive proves that with 113 cars taking the start. However, King of the Hammers is known as the most brutal one-day race for a reason. 46 vehicles finished.
Can-Am swept the podium with Kyle Chaney, Cody Miller, and Phil Blurton finishing one, two, and three. Chaney has been on a roll, winning $10,000 earlier in the week at the Toyo Desert Challenge and now earing $25,000 by winning the UTV King of the Hammers. Last year Chaney was on a different kind of roll, dislocating his toes and breaking his foot when his UTV rolled on him. Despite that adversity, he still managed to finish second in 2020, giving the competition a glimpse of what sort of resolve they should expect from the Ohio-based racer.
Kyle Chaney Tops An All Can-Am Podium
‘I wanted to make it through the desert loop” Chaney confessed. “It had a bunch of nasty chop in it and I knew making it through that part of the course was going to be key today. I knew I could get through the rocks. But the desert was going to be tough. I knew we could bring it home.” Chaney completed the 121-mile course in just three hours and 47 minutes. The course started with a desert lap that combined tight, twisty ridgelines with mixed high-speed lakebeds. From there the difficulty level ratcheted up as the competitors had to traverse brutal rockcrawling trails including Jackhammer and Bender Alley; trails that challenged both team and machine.
Cody Miller, 2020’s fast qualifier and brother of last year’s winner UTV winner Hunter Miller, came in second place, finishing just under 12 minutes behind Chaney. “I was headed up Jackhammer and I saw Kyle coming down and I knew at that point that he had a very serious lead,” Miller revealed at the finish line. “we pushed really hard but couldn’t catch him.” The Millers are relatively new to rockcrawling and King of the Hammers, but have taken to the rocks like ducks to water. The two Texans have a long history racing for Can-Am, winning championships in GNCC and WORCS in the past. “King of the Hammers is just a great team event,” Miller explained. “You know, a lot of the races that we run are just the driver versus the driver. Out here it’s the team versus the team. All the way from the pits to the passenger seat. It's a major group effort. And it just brings everyone together and it's such a good family environment.”
Phil Blurton rounded out the podium, a follow up on his third-place finish from last year and his second-place finish at the Toyo Desert Challenge B2 vs B3 Grudge Match this past Saturday. “There's nothing like it,” Blurton answered when asked about King of the Hammers. “You know, about every two weeks we’re racing somewhere different and this race is just so unique. You're in the desert doing 10 0miles an hour and then you're in the rocks doing three miles an hour and next thing you know you're stuck on the rocks and out of the car winching. It is a combination of everything.” Blurton finished 19 minutes back from Chaney, losing valuable time when he got a flat tire and discovered that his jack had flown off the car. “We had to pull up on a rock to get the tire off the ground and get it swapped out.”
Finishing just off the podium was second generation racer Ronnie Anderson with his big brother RJ navigating. The brothers made it to the very last turn of the race when they caught a rut and barrel rolled their UTV multiple times. Fortunately, the two were unharmed, and still managed to cross the finish line under their own power. The top ten also included fast qualifier Jay Shaw in fifth (driving Hunter Miller’s winning car from 2020), two-time winner Mitch Guthrie Jr in seventh place, and 4400 driver Jason Scherer in ninth.
The UTV King of the Hammers race has arguably the deepest talent pool in a week of events full of talented racers. In addition to dedicated UTV racers such as Kyle Chaney and the Miller brothers, 4400 stars Loren Healy and Shannon Campbell mixed it up with desert racer Cameron Steele, motocross legend Jeremy McGrath, and short course racers CJ and Johnny Greeves. To challenge this talented roster, Ultra4 Race Director JT Taylor had the UTVs run the same first two laps as Saturday’s main event, the OPTIMA Batteries King of the Hammers Powered (which runs an additional lap through the most challenging rock canyons).
Despite the difficulty, in 2021, 46 of 109 UTVs finished the race within the ten-hour time limit. By contrast, in 2013 there were only 35 total entries, and only three of those reached the checked flag. This year, Chaney and the Miller brothers have entered the 4400 race on Saturday, driving the same Can-Am Maverick X3s they raced in the UTV race. “We will tear the whole thing apart tonight and have it back together by the morning,” Chaney disclosed. The action continues on Friday, February 5th with the 4WP Every Man Challenge before the grand finale on Saturday, February 6th with the unlimited OPTIMA Batteries King of the Hammers Presented by Lasernut. Not on the lakebed? The best live coverage in off-road racing starts at 8 AM Pacific each morning at ultra4racing.com/live.
Top twenty results
1. Kyle Chaney - 3:47:54.885
2. Cody Miller - 3:59:49.390
3. Phil Blurton - 4:7:24.587
4. Ronnie Anderson - 4:8:49.953
5. Jay Shaw - 4:18:17.330
6. Jacob Versey - 4:21:29.926
7. Mitch Guthrie JR - 4:27:07.804
8. Trey Mckinlay - 4:32:20.313
9. Jason Scherer - 4:34:49.237
10. Cole Clark - 4:36:57.609
11. CJ Greaves - 4:40:14.391
12. Anthony Yount - 4:55:54.080
13. Shannon Campbell - 4:59:21.228
14. Mitch Guthrie SR - 5:00:06.075
15. Loren Healy - 5:13:12.729
16. Scott Lesage - 5:13:48.200
17. Bailey Cole - 5:15:38.164
18. Mark Welch - 5:18:45.859
19. Austin Weiland - 5:20:21.161
20. Casey Currie - 5:21:59.731
2021 Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive Nuggets
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 between dedicated UTV drivers, T1 drivers, and Ultra4 drivers all vying for the win.
- Can-Am swept the podium for the second year in a row
- UTV drivers Kyle Cheney, Hunter Miller, and Cody Miller will all race in the unlimited 4400 race on Saturday
- UTVs is the largest class at King of the Hammers
- In 2015 only five out of 50 entries finished the Can-Am KOH UTV Race
- In 2013 only three out of 35 entries finished the Can-Am KOH UTV Race
Terry L Madden best co-driver ever
There is no more famous co-driver/navigator at King of the Hammers than Terry L Madden. He has navigated for Bailey Campbell and Levi Shirley, and this year he navigated for Sara Price in the Can-Am Off-Road UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive.
When a steering issue sidelined the duo in Jackhammer, Terry wasn't content to just sit and watch the race. He started pulling winch cable for other competitors to help them reach the finish line. This is the sportsmanship that epitomizes King of the Hammers.
RZR-S, Shannon Campbell built his own UTV
Shannon Campbell (#5) has built a UTV specifically for this race - an “unlimited” UTV. Not legal for other series. Does not look like a UTV, looks like another Campbell car.
About Kyle Chaney
Two-time Grand National Cross Country winner who came in second place last year. Kyle Chaney started racing a Can-Am in 2011 and has been true to the brand ever since. Last year the Ohio native came in 2nd place in the unique UTV KOH race. This year he returned on a mission to do even better, not only taking 1st in today’s Can-Am On-Road UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive, but also 1st in his class in last Saturday’s B2 vs. B3 Grudge Match.
2021 Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers Presented by Progressive Podium Finisher Quotes
Kyle Chaney UTV Team #191- 1st Place
Congratulations on your win today Kyle.
“I appreciate it. First and foremost, I have got to give thanks to Can-Am, these things are freakin’ tough! We had some times out there where I didn’t know if we were gonna come out of it. I gotta thank my crew all my guys here you know it takes a big crew to race this much and a lot of late nights you know there's a lot of work that goes into this. Right after the 4400 qualifying they tore this whole thing apart and had it back together by morning. So, thanks, everybody. Thanks Dave Cole for having this race and giving us a place to race.”
When did you get the lead today?
“I think we had the lead on time sometime earlier in the desert. After we got by Phil, I'm pretty sure he was leading probably in time adjustment for a while and then I think we got it. But we didn't get the physical lead until after Outer Limits in the rocks. Hunter made a mistake and flipped and we were able to pass them for the physical leave. But we had the time bleed at that point.
What is your strategy going into the race today after seeing the course?
‘I wanted to make it through the desert, the desert was really hard. The desert had a bunch of nasty chop in it and I knew making it through the desert was going to be key today. I knew I could get through the rocks. But the desert was going to be tough once we made it through the desert. I knew we could bring it home.”
When did you know you were probably going to win?
“I try not to think about that! Even when I pulled in I didn't think I won or considered winning until they said hey, you know you’re first so you know I don't let that stuff go through my head until it's solid. Because you know, you start thinking about that stuff. And then you make a mistake. So I just stay focused on racing and trying to go as fast as I can keep the car going.”
How many times have you competed in King of the Hammers?
“This is my third time competing in King of the Hammers and this is my first win. Last time I got second. In my first race we had the lead and we had a radiator issue. So this is my second podium at King of the Hammers but first win in the UTV.”
Last year, you had an injury, what was the injury?
“My four toes on my right foot got dislocated when I got ran over and they were like sitting on top of my foot and I broke my foot. But I couldn't get my shoe back on. So I had to re-dislocate my toes and push them back forward so I could get my shoe on. And then just finish the race with a broken foot. But it didn't bother me at all until after the race.”
How long did it take to recover?
“It's still messed up but didn’t bother me today.”
What's special about this race?
“Just the whole environment. It's a little it's technical. It's a little bit of everything. But I love this even and I'll definitely be back.”
And what other events are you competing in this week?
“4400 will be the last event for me. It will be my first time and I just want to finish.”
Cody Miller UTV Team #221- 2nd Place
How did you day go?
“We really just tried to run smooth and in our desert section we were behind and we were in the dust and all we can do is just try and get it through that and once we got into the rocks we charged pretty hard and you know about three quarters away from the rocks we caught the whole field and luckily we got around every single one of them at the same time. So, it was a really good race. The navigation and the shocks were on point. You know, we didn't have a single flat. We had no mechanicals. The only time we stopped we never even got out of the car. We didn't have to winch or flip the thing back over. So, we had a really clean race.
Have you raced here before?
“This is my second year racing King of the Hammers, last year in 2020 was my first year here. Last year, I had a piece of hardware break on the first lap and I came out like ninth. My brother won last year and then I raced the 4400 last year as well and I think I came out like 14th or so in that.”
What was your strategy going into the race this year?
“I was a little bit behind in qualifying. I chose a risky line and it did not pay off. So you know my strategy was to keep the car together and try and pick off the main competitors in the rocks. And the car came out of the desert in great shape. We got to the rock sections and started making up time eventually caught the whole pack and had a really good line and got around most everybody at one time. After that we pushed pretty hard trying to catch up to Kyle. I knew he had a pretty good lead at which time I had a bolt break in the rear so I had to kind of limp it from there and we just did our best to get the car to the finish line. It was it was certainly not easy. But we came out on top my CanAm Maverick X3 with Maxxis tires, Raceline wheels, Elka suspension, it was flawless.
Did you ever see Kyle on the course. Were you ever in a position where you could have passed him?
“Yeah, I was headed up Jackhammer and I saw Kyle coming down and I knew at that point that he had a very serious lead. So we pushed really hard but couldn’t catch him.”
What made you want to come back to King of the Hammers?
“King of the Hammers is just a great team event. You know, a lot of the races that we run are just the driver versus the driver. Out here it’s the team versus the team. All the way from the pits to the passenger seat. It's a major group effort. And it just brings everyone together and it's such a good family environment. You know, it's what it brings for the whole family is just awesome. It makes everyone feel like they're involved.”
Well, and where are you based out of?
“We're in Dallas, Texas or well out of out of Dallas. It’s Greenville, Texas.”
Phil Burton UTV Team #944- 3rd Place
The level of competition has gotten so high. What is that like to race against all these guys?
“The first we did this I think was three years ago, it was like we just kind of cruised along and made sure the car got to the finish and now it's like, full blown racing the whole entire time. Kyle races a different series. And we do I think Miller's race is different series and and Beau and I do the desert out on the West Coast out here. So, it helps that Can Am has a driver from pretty much every different area and be 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I think it says a lot for the car.”
How many KOH’s have you done?
This is our fourth time at King of the Hammers, we have never won one. We have had two eighths and now two thirds in UTV.”
What was the difference this year?
“Everybody's just getting way faster. Before, you came to this race you just kind of cruise and made sure the car got to the finish. And now we're like full blown and racing the whole day.”
And where were you most frustrated on the course today?
“We got a flat and we didn't have a jack to change it because it flew off the back of the car somewhere. So, we found a rock to pull up onto and changed it. All in all, there was really no frustration it was it was fun racing all day.
Did you ever have the lead at any point?
“I think we might have had the lead on corrected time at the beginning of the desert loop. But it's so early it doesn't count yet.”
And what makes you keep coming back to the King of the Hammer. Did you just need to win?
“Yeah, we have got to win this thing one day. You know, this we race for Can-Am obviously and this is a big race for them. They're the sponsor of it. So, they like us to come here. And we love coming. And it's a fun time. We've been here I think nine days already.”
What is it like to race all over the world? A lot of us haven't. What's special about this terrain?
“That there's nothing like it. You know, we race about every two weeks we’re racing somewhere different and this race is just so unique. You're in the desert doing 102 miles an hour and then you're in the rocks doing three miles an hour and next thing you know you're out of the car on winching and it's stuck on the rocks. It is a combination of everything combined. It's
a lot of fun.”
What other events are you doing this week?
“We raced the B2 vs B3 Grudge Match earlier in the week, but now we're done. Going home.”
And where is home?
“Loomis, California, right in between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.”
By following the links below you can be updated on all the races of the 2021 KOH Week