Story by Lance Clifford
Photos by David Taylor and Jason Zindroski
Friday morning at 8:00AM kicked off the 2012 King of the Hammers race which is fast becoming known as "The toughest one day event in the world". This year's race did not disappoint with zero wind and extremely dusty conditions, it would prove to be a brutal 165 mile course. With the news that Dave Cole would allow non-qualified LCQ racers to enter the race in the name of land use, there were approximately 150 racers at the starting line all wanting the same thing - the King's scepter that past champions such as Shannon Campbell, Loren Healy and Jason Scherer enjoyed during their reigns as king. After the dust settled on Friday afternoon, Erik Miller crossed the finish line at 2:03PM to be crowned the 2012 King of the Hammers. Miller will be taking home the $25,000 prize back to the east coast and his home state of Maryland.
Your 2012 King of the Hammers - Erik Miller
"There are one thousand opportunities to make mistakes out there," Erik Miller explained at the finish line, "and we just try to make as few as possible." The humble Miller was describing the secret to his success at the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers, where he finished the grueling 165-mile race in six hours and three minutes. "I could not have done this without the help of my friends. We have been in Johnson Valley for the past twelve days getting ready for this race."
EZ Rick's 2nd place was anything but "EZ"
Finishing second was "EZ" Rick Mooneyham of Trick Toys Fabrication, thirteen minutes behind Miller. EZ Rick is no stranger to the KOH podium, and is one of the most consistent Ultra4 racers today. "I just can't seem to get this monkey off my back," referring to his consistent top finishes but no actual wins. The Lake Havasu, AZ, racer qualified first at the 4Wheel Parts qualifier with a blistering 4 minute, 40 second time. EZ would stay near the front of the pack for the entire race trading positions throughout the day with front runners Erik Miller and Greg Adler.
The 2011 King Shannon Campbell battles hard for a 3rd place finish
Third place went to last year's King Shannon Campbell in his single-seat Monster Energy IFS buggy. Campbell overcame issues throughout the day including several flat tires and having some difficulty near the start of the race as several other competitors accidentally deviated from the race course. Campbell finished in six hours and thirty three minutes. "I guess I am going to have to build something new for next year," Campbell said at his finish line interview. Shannon is the only driver to have won two King of the Hammers races and was the 2011 Ultra4 Series Champion.
Greg Adler DNFs this year
Greg Adler was running strong the entire race consistently running in the top three when he rolled and broke at the bottom of the waterfall of Backdoor less than a mile from the finish line. The 4Wheel Parts President would not be able to repair his car and repeat his top finish from last year and would DNF.
#76 Jason Scherer tries to get around Tony Pelligrino but pops a Nitto tire in the process
Jason Scherer was a favorite for the race with his newly built ASR Racing IFS buggy and didn't disappoint as he went from 97th place at the starting line to 5th by Chocolate Thunder. "I was having a good race picking people off left and right in the desert. Unfortunately when I got to Chocolate Thunder, another competitor was stuck in the rocks and I cut my tire trying to get around him. I then cut another tire trying to get up the rocks with a flat tire. After dealing with all of that, I battled some new car issues with my steering rack," said Scherer. Scherer finished 19th.
A great video of Robby Gordon behind the wheel
Robby Gordon made his rock crawling debut at this year's King of the Hammers in his newly acquired TTB car that he purchased from Bill Kunz from Torchmate Racing. Gordon blew everyone away with an impressive 5th place in qualifying where he looked like a veteran rock crawler and not the newbie he actually was. Unfortunately Gordon would suffer engine problems early in the race and blew up the engine at race mile 14. He was heard talking about replacing the stock LS1 after qualifying with an LS7 so he could have a little more power for the big race, but decided not to risk doing a major motor upgrade just a day before the race. Unfortunately the old LS1 would let them down throwing a rod and putting them out of the race.
Lovell Racing finishes with a respectable 6th place this year
Team In the Pink gave it hell but had to DNF due to throttle cable issues
49 Official Finishers of the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers
1 Erik Miller 4421 Cumberland MD 6:03:51
2 Rick Mooneyham 554 Lake Havasu City AZ 6:16:48
3 Shannon Campbell 5 Gilbert AZ 6:33:40
4 Derek West 4420 Springfield MO 7:20:24
5 Loren Healy 4428 Farmington NM 7:22:05
6 Brad Lovell 232 Colorado Springs CO 7:26:23
7 Brian Shirley 18 Dodge City KS 7:31:53
8 Rusty Bray 4498 Richmond KY 7:31:54
9 Mike Klensin 4431 Tucson AZ 7:40:58
10 Casey Currie 2 Anaheim CA 8:16:04
11 Ben Dinkins 4403 Annopolis MO 8:24:49
12 Jon Cagliero 27 Paso Robles CA 8:27:17
13 Brandon Watson 4488 Carbondale CO 8:32:54
14 Jeff Russell 4427 Shadow Hills CA 8:39:10
15 Ivan VanOrtwick 4466 Whittier CA 8:41:08
16 Ben Napier 4461 Sydney AUS 8:42:00
17 John Webb 4468 Concord CA 8:50:28
18 Levi Shirley 81 Dodge City KS 9:03:20
19 Jason Scherer 76 Danville CA 9:05:36
20 Alan Woodson 86 Charlottesville VA 9:20:43
21 Jason Blanton 966 Kirkland WA 9:27:33
22 Jeremy Dickenson 4419 Cedar Park TX 9:34:49
23 Harold Fijman 777 San Ramon CA 9:38:50
24 Alex Hardaway 4481 Santa Rosa CA 9:40:59
25 Nick Finch 2228 Dean Park NSW 2761 Australia 9:46:51
26 Lucas Murphy 816 Easton MA 9:47:20
27 Ritchie Keller 202 Elkland MO 9:47:24
28 Cottin Rodd 4407 Cortez CO 9:47:48
29 Scott Ward 4438 Lake Havasu City AZ 9:57:40
30 John James 28 Fresno CA 10:17:58
31 Jason Shipman 4414 Farmington MO 10:22:00
32 Hunter Sparrow 72 Arvada CO 10:23:20
33 Mat Noualy 328 Mt Albert ONT, CA 10:32:45
34 Chris Garrison 4494 Rancho Cordova CA 10:45:50
35 Dave Bovich 50 Shasta Lake CA 10:51:37
36 Les Figueroa 4478 Henderson NV 10:59:24
37 Fabio Manno 100 Rome Italy 11:21:07
38 Doug Evans 4457 Hayfork CA 11:24:58
39 Larry Anderson 742 Dixon CA 11:52:39
40 Matt Peterson 212 Colorado Springs CO 11:54:41
41 Robb Kaufman 22 RockyView County CAN 12:05:47
42 Paul Garner 4409 Queen Creek AZ 12:21:57
43 Bart Dixon 26 San Diego CA 12:57:47
44 Curtis Warner 4410 Armstrong BC 12:59:05
45 Brandon Heyes 4558 Rancho Cucamonga CA 13:02:45
46 Jesse Haines 4499 Sparks NV 13:05:48
47 Warren Thomas 257 Morro Bay CA 13:19:25
48 Tom Wayes 321 San Jose CA 13:33:45
49 Stan Haynes 4408 Ft. Wayne IN 13:38:55
Can you say "traffic jam"?
You can view the live blog from the event below by clicking the replay button.