TJ Flores has a reputation for doing more with less in the desert, regularly pushing his Class 1 car to victories in Best In The Desert and SNORE races ahead of teams with more horsepower and funding.  He is accustomed to being the underdog, so Flores didn’t shy away from driving in the crossover sensation that is the Griffin King of the Hammers.  “I am always looking for a new challenge,” Flores shared.  “I went out to Johnson Valley recently and ran last year’s course…  I never knew that you could get such an adrenaline rush while driving so slow!”  King of the Hammers combines desert racing and rockcrawling in one epic race.

Other desert racers have competed in King of the Hammers in the past, but with limited success.  This was generally not due to a lack of talent, but rather limited seat time and untested vehicles.  Flores will have neither of these obstacles to overcome.  TJ will be piloting a “Top Shelf” buggy, currently under construction by the longtime Ultra4 and rockcrawling fabricators at Trent Fabrication.  Once the buggy is completed, Flores will have several weeks to become familiar with the car and tune it to his liking.  He will also gain valuable rockcrawling experience from Dave Schneider, who is not only the car owner but a longtime rockcrawling competitor.

While not as nimble as the Class 1 class he is used to piloting, Flores will enjoy a healthy power-to-weight ratio at King of the Hammers as the Top Shelf buggy is powered by an MJ Motorsports 427ci LSx engine producing in excess of 700 horsepower.  “MJ has over 200 hours spent porting, blending, and polishing the heads!” Schneider revealed.  Power is routed through a 4L80 transmission to an Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case that then feed all the horsepower to heavily fortified Ruff Stuff fabricated housings fitting with Yukon nodular third members, gears, and Grizzy lockers.

We wanted to demonstrate that solid axle cars can be competitive with IFS and TTB at King of the Hammers,” Trent Fabrication’s Derek Trent stated.  “This car is a collaboration between Dave and myself.  We are implementing technology here that can affordably be passed on to other racers and enthusiasts in the future.”   Suspension duties will be handled by Bilstein 9100 series coilovers and Super 60 bypass shocks at each corner, all fitted with Bilstein’s proprietary Anti-Cavitation valves.  “I have worked with Bilstein for years,” Schneider explained.  “Quality suspension is the difference between a rockcrawler and an Ultra4 car, and Bilstein is the absolute best.”  “

In addition to the Griffin King of the Hammers, Flores will drive the Top Shelf buggy in the entire Ultra4 Pro Series in an effort to win the season championship.  For those unfamiliar with the “Ultra4” movement, it is the description that encompasses King of the Hammers vehicles and their ability to compete in environments as varied as rockcrawling, desert racing, short course, and hill climbs.  Schneider intends to compete in the same vehicle in Best In The Desert’s racing series, requiring the vehicle to be stout enough to withstand nearly non-stop punishment week after week.

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