When I hear the words “King of the Hammers” my mind starts racing, dirt, dust, rocks, and carnage. King of the Hammers is, without doubt, the event that embodies offroading as a whole better than any other. It’s a week-long event where you can see the most hardcore race trucks battle it out over the toughest terrain the US has to offer while also hitting the same trails in your own vehicle at night.
The event draws people from every corner of the offroad world; desert racers, rock crawlers, mudders, and everything in between which leads to a completely wild and fun time, but I don’t wanna get lost in the mayhem of it all because that’s just the obvious look at it. The thing that keeps me going back to the hammers is the camaraderie, you will be with people from all walks of life cheering and yelling together as they watch in amazement because there is no race tougher or gnarlier than the King of the Hammers
So aside from watching a truck try and climb a sheer rock wall and flipping back onto the truck behind it, you get to be with thousands of other people who want to see that exact same thing. That experience in itself is very unique to motorsports; you immediately feel the bond with fellow spectators as your sinus fills with magical Earth dust and you feel the grittiness of dirt in your teeth because you just can’t help but smile taking in the incredible sights. It feels like a close knit group when you’re there despite how diverse most of our other interests are. It’s just one of those events that really brings people together from all over.
You can’t talk about the hammers without talking about….Hammertown! The infamous Hammertown, it’s the culmination of days of work, thousands of people and every offroad vendor you could imagine. If you wanna see all the latest and greatest in the industry, grab some good food, race RC cars, see all the race trucks in their pits or meet the drivers, you can d oit there. It’s also the central meeting spot for anyone attending because there is absolutely no cell phone service out on the lake bed so if you’re gonna try and meet up with someone you’re gonna have to go to Hammertown.
It’s also the start/finish point of the race so all the big race teams’ pits are there, which is where you can walk around and see the incredible off road machines up close. Getting to dunk your head into these mechanical wonders is always a must do for any gear head. But don’t stick to just Hammertown itself, take a stroll through the parking lot and see the amount of absolutely insane vehicles that are parked there. It doesn’t matter if you want see a monster truck or a totally custom weird vehicle that you couldn’t ever have imagined before, the parking lot around Hammertown will have it.
I think the real King of the Hammers is experienced not during the title races but after the sun sets and you see the thousands of lights ascend the nearby canyons. Like the desert outpost of Mos Eisley, there are so many lights it nearly looks like a sprawling city that blankets the desert landscape. You’d have to be crazy not to want to see what all the fuss was about. This is where you’ll see your average Joe out slamming his homebuilt rock crawler through the very same course the million dollar race trucks will be doing the very next day, only at a very different pace. So many rock crawlers in fact, the procession over the course amounts to what seems to be a giant off road traffic jam. You’d think you were sitting on the 405 at 5pm on a Friday night and not out in the arid desert, it’s that absurd.
The King of Hammers night time experience is really a sight to see I can’t think of anything else even remotely like it that I’ve been to. It’s loud, it’s rowdy and it’s raw, it’s a party like you’ve probably never experienced where if you flip your truck you’re gonna get the loudest applause and cheering. It’s these nights that I enjoy the most because it’s just pure chaos but it’s so fun at the same time, you’ll be making friends with every person next to you as you collectively cheer for the guys that are basically doing the impossible.
It has a bit of everything, it’s certainly a very big party, but it’s also an amazing family event, with interactive booths and ride alongs in a huge array of vehicles. Off road mayhem aside, it’s the people you meet out there that will stick with you, I’ve met people that I now consider close friends, people I never knew before we met in Hammertown. The first time I went, I was by myself, I didn’t know a single person going. All I knew was that I wanted to go and that I was glad I was there. Now when I step foot into Hammertown, I feel like Norm taking his barstool at Cheers. It’s those experiences and friendships that will keep me going back year after year, no amount of dirt or dust can keep me away.
Text and Images by Jim Barnett