For the next week, a remote area of the High Desert will be the hub for all things off-road racing.Racers and fans will converge at Means Dry Lake for the annual King of the Hammers, the largest off-road racing event in North America that draws tens of thousands of spectators in person and hundreds of thousands more online.
More than 400 racers have already registered for a week of off-road races, rock-crawling events and parties, all centered around a pop-up town erected to support the event — Hammertown.
“We take an empty lake bed and turn it into a small city,” said Ultra4 Racing Communications Director Shannon Welch. “Complete with street signs, addresses, lighting, a Jumbotron, and the bonfire is the meeting place for friends from around the country and world each night.”
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of King of the Hammer’s first official race, a decade after founders Dave Cole and Jeff Knoll planned the event on a bar napkin. The first race included 50 of Cole and Knoll’s off-roading friends, who navigated through a desert course over 50 miles long.
A decade later, Kind of the Hammers features five main races over nine days, including the returning Every Man Challenge, UTV Race, King of the Motos, and the Shootout. The centerpiece King of the Hammers race will take place on Feb. 9th.
Off-roaders participating in the King of the Hammers race will cross 165 miles of open desert and rocky slopes, often exceeding 100 mph and making repairs in-race without outside assistance.
“In 2017, the race came down the last couple miles,” said Ultra4 Racing representative Emily Miller. “After all those brutal sections, the final racers were running together.
“The race is so brutal that it is difficult to predict a winner. But with several people having won the title more than once, experience counts.”