The 2024 King Of The Hammers has taken over Johnson Valley, California once again. At KOH, the second week of racing takes a break from the rocks and moves into the open desert. Join Off Road Extreme as we look at the action from the 2024 Toyo Tires Desert Challenge presented by Monster Energy.
2024 Toyo Desert Challenge: Prologue
For the third year running the race would be a two-day affair. Day 1 would feature the Prologue with the racers completing one abbreviated lap. Though shorter, the Prologue would still cover 35 miles of rough terrain. Determining the starting order for day 2 as well as adding to their total time the drivers would be pushing hard all day.
At 8:00 AM the green flag flew, and Brock Heger tore into the desert. A staggered start meant everyone would have a chance at a clean run through the first bit of course. In total, over 130 Limited Cars would start the race, with the trucks to follow.
Getting first crack at the course, the huge field of limited cars and UTVs would be leaving the line for hours. With such a massive car count a good starting position would be a huge factor for the next day. Passing slower traffic is tricky and can be dangerous as Kyle Chaney found out. Only a few miles in he chose a line that had him ramping off a bush ending his day.
Despite the course eating up quite a few competitors, some were able to lay down some blazing-fast runs. Brock Heger was the quickest on the day in his open class UTV, finishing in just under 33 minutes. Less than a minute behind him was Joe Terrana in his Pro-Mod Can-Am. Another Open UTV was not far behind, this one belonging to Cayden Maccachren.
In the trucks, it was the Christopher Polvoorde show. Laying down a lap of just over 30 minutes he looked fast through every section of the track. Ryan Arciero would be the next finisher. Tim Herbst, in his Terribles truck, would be the next T1 across the line.
The T2s were fast but not quite as fast as the top finishers. Dustin Grabowski took the top honors in spec truck less than 2 minutes behind Polvoorde. It looked like the rough course kept the power advantage of the T1s in check and it very well could be a 6100 in the lead when day two was done.
The other trucks on the course were the door-slamming 1400s and 1450s. They would only be running day 1, so this was their entire race. In the 1400 class, Darren Parsons finished first with Brett Michael just behind him. Zack Conner would take the 1450 class with Jason Hutter in second.
Before the end of Day 1 there was one more class to be raced, The Baja Vida Class 11 Showdown. For all the VW action from King of the Hammers head over there.
2024 Toyo Desert Challenge: Day 2
182 was the number of the day. 182 drivers fighting it out over 182 miles. With 2 laps consisting of open desert and tight rocky technical sections, it would test every competitor. Again, the Limited racers would lead it off as the green flag was waived.
Brock Heger would back up his previous days’ performance and take the UTV overall. Finishing 10 minutes ahead of the next UTV, it was a dominating performance. But the race was not that one-sided the whole time. Joe Terrana who ended up 5th overall was on Heger’s bumper with a few miles left on lap one. After that, no one could challenge his speed.
You could throw a blanket over the next three finishers. All within 45 seconds of each other, the trio of Polaris RZRs were battling for time at every turn. Max Eddy Jr. finished second followed by Wayne Matlock and Kayden Wells.
This was a huge boost for Polaris in the battle of the UTV brands, taking the top four spots. Especially after last year’s dominating performance at KOH by Can-Am. All eyes would be on the rock race to see if the RZRs can dethrone them in the heavy stuff.
It was mid-afternoon when the roar of the T1 Unlimited Trucks started echoing through the canyons. Delaying the start to ensure the later finishers in the limited class were clear the time came to unleash the horsepower.
Polvoorde in his brand new 1000-horsepower Optima Batteries Mason Motorsports all-wheel-drive truck had earned the right to lead them out. Once that green flag dropped he ran an almost flawless race and went on to win, his second Toyo Tires Desert Challenge victory.
Tim Herbst was on a mission for Day 2. Passing for the lead while Christopher was in the pits changing a flat, Herbst was the first truck back in after lap one, but Polvoorde’s NASCAR fast pit stop got him back out into the desert first.
Polvoorde would go on to take the race, winning by just under 2 minutes ahead of Herbst. Kyle Jergensen would finish third overall, and first for the T2 class. In fact, it would be a trio of Spec Trucks to round out the top 5.
“It feels good. It was a fun race” is what Polvoorde said about the 2024 Toyo Desert Challenge. “ I made a mistake early and got a flat, but I just put my head down. I have to give a huge shout-out to my pit crew. They got me in and out faster than Herbst. They are really the ones that should be up here celebrating. They pulled me out of a bad situation.”
Not Done On The Lake Bed
Overall, The 2024 Toyo Desert Challenge was an amazing two days of racing. Both days showed a lot of speed across the classes but as we have learned in Johnson Valley too much speed comes at a price. And too often that price is a flat tire or worse. But even though the trophies have been hoisted there is still a lot more race action and coverage coming from the 2024 King of the Hammers.
To check out the full results head over to KOH’s official website here. Also, Stay Tuned for more action from Johnson Valley and the 2024 King of the Hammers.