Top 10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of King Of The Hammers

Hammertown is quite a remarkable place

Feb. 22, 2018 By Seth Fargher

Describing the Nitto King of the Hammers to someone who's never been is a tall order. It's really one of those events you have to witness for yourself to truly understand, because it is so much more than just an off-road race.

It may have started out as another small desert race, but it has evolved into one of the biggest off-road affairs in the world and should be on everyone's bucket list.

READ MORE: Watch The Entire 2018 King of the Hammers Right Here

If that's enough to sell you on it, we've got a few tips for making your first (or return) trip to KOH as memorable as possible. Here are ten ways to help you get the most out King of the Hammers.

Arrive Early, Stay All Week

Part of attending KOH is simply taking in the atmosphere and all the excitement that happens between the actual races. The aptly named Hammertown is the massive impromptu community of campers and trailers that forms in the Johnson Valley for an entire week, literally becoming its own small town with street names and all.

Technically Hammertown opens the Friday before the big Ultra4 race but the first official event (at least this year) was UTV qualifying which happened on Saturday followed by the first leg of the Schampa King of the Motos. With numerous classes racing and qualifying on separate days of the week, you won't be short on things to do. Sure you could stay in town and drive in for a select few events but where's the fun in that?

Pre-Run The Course

King of the Hammers is unique in that there is ample opportunity throughout the week for attendees to pre-run portions of the actual race course. Although there are windows when the course is closed, it's a great opportunity for enthusiasts to join in the spirit of the event and experience first hand just how brutal this race can be. Just be aware of the event schedule and what days the actual races are taking place. You don't want to interfere with a 500-horsepower Ultra4 car.

READ MORE: Live Photos from the 2018 King of the Hammers

Meet Industry Celebrities

In addition to many of the top off-road racers in the world, KOH is a great place to meet celebrities from all corners of the industry. This year's broadcasting team included TV host Ian Johnson as well as off-road racers Cameron Steele and Ricky Johnson. Formula Drift driver Von Gitton Jr competed in the Smittybilt Every Man Challenge and Aaron Kaufman, formerly of Gas Monkey Garage, was on hand filming for his new Discovery Channel Show Shifting Gears.

The best part about it is for the most part, everyone is accessible. The drivers camp and pit right in Hammertown so there are lot's of opportunities to mix and mingle with the stars of the sport. Just don't go all 'school girl crazy' when you happen to bump into one.

Watch Qualifying

Qualifying provides one of the best spectating opportunities of the week. During the actual race, you might find yourself chasing a dust cloud in hopes of catching the leaders at a particular an obstacle but chances are, you're going to spend a lot of time sitting in the desert waiting for them to come through that spot. Qualifying is nonstop action as the racers take to the course one after the other in hopes of securing a good starting position. The Power Hour happens every afternoon of qualifying and features the top contenders in each class. This is your best chance to see all the top guys in one spot prior to the race.

Take In The Nightlife

We won't go as far as to say what happens at KOH stays at KOH but when the sun goes down, things definitely start to pick up. From the annual KMC belly flop contest to the Holley EFI Shootout and watching people attempt to climb Backdoor at night, there is plenty to keep you from going to bed early. If late night wheeling isn't your thing, just find a campfire, pull up a chair and swap stories with other Hammertown inhabitants.

Find The Free Food

From free energy drinks at the Monster Energy semi to incredible pulled pork sandwiches compliments of SDHQ Offroad, a number of vendors will host free meals throughout the week. You have to be strategic about it but if you play your cards right, you could probably manage at least one free meal a day for the majority of the event. Fortunately for us, JEEP sponsored the media tent, which gave us a spot out of the dust to catch our breath, an internet connection and some incredible meals on Thursday and Friday courtesy of Overland Catering.

Shop Vendor Row

When you're not out watching the qualifying action or pre-running the race course, Hammertown offers rows upon rows of vendors selling virtually ever accessory you can imagine. From T-shirts to axles, LEDs to full suspension systems, attendees can browse products from some of the biggest names in the industry all in one place. There's even a mobile fab shop set up where you can have repairs made if you broke something out on the trail.

Have a Plan of Attack on Race Day

Because the course covers over one hundred miles of incredibly rugged terrain, most of which is not easily accessible, having a thought out plan for how you intend to spectate will help you make the most of your day. Some folks prefer to skip the start/finish line in exchange for getting out into some of the more far reaching obstacles but we certainly enjoyed the electric atmosphere at the start of the event as well as the celebration that occurs as racers cross the finish line. It's definitely possible to witness both the start and finish while spending some time out on the course but know ahead of time, you're going to be hustling from point to point.

Come Prepared

Nothing will ruin a trip to King of the Hammers like being unprepared. When it comes to your attire, plan for extremes. Temperatures can easily dip below freezing overnight and reach highs in the 80's or 90's by the afternoon. Dress in layers that you can shed as it warms up and be sure to protect yourself from the sun. Unless you plan to watch all of the events on the jumbotron, comfortable hiking shoes that you can boulder-hop in are a must. If you're headed out on the course, pack a bag with extra snacks and lots of water. Time flies at KOH and it's not uncommon to leave your rig at 6 am and not return until 9 or 10 that night. Don't forget, you're in the desert and it's going to be dusty. Very, very dusty.

Meet People From Around The World

Whether you're a first timer or one of the OG13, the KOH community is really one big family. Sitting around the campfire at night or waiting at one of the obstacles for the cars to come through is a great opportunity to meet other enthusiasts with a shared passion for off-roading.  With an audience that spans the globe, it's very likely you’ll encounter folks from different countries. On our trip alone we met folks from the UK, Scotland and even Iceland. Newsletter
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