King of the Hammers is described as the world’s toughest one-day race. So, you would assume it would take a highly specialized rig with big power and giant rubber to even finish, right?
Well, not if your name is Kyle Chaney. Because Kyle didn’t just finish, he won! Piloting his production stock class Can-Am Maverick X3 to a third consecutive overall victory at the 2023 King of the Hammers UTV Championship. Join Off Road Xtreme as we take look at all the action from the lakebed this year.
2023 Cam-Am UTV Hammers Championship Photo Gallery
Proving A Point
This year saw over 100 competitors lined up for the UTV Hammers Championship, each ready to tackle the brutal 132-mile course. Almost half of those drivers chose to compete in the Pro Mod class. Those Drivers were betting the larger allowed tire size and suspension/chassis modifications would give them the edge on the track. About a third chose to compete in the more restrictive stock class. Limited to 33-inch tires and almost completely stock setups, for many, these rigs are the entry point into racing at KOH.
So why was the defending champ racing in the stock class? Simply to prove a point, you don’t need $100,000 side-by-side to win at KOH. This year Can-Am was all about showing off how capable their rigs are straight from the showroom floor. Three of the top drivers piloted stock-class Can-AM X3s in the race, Kyle Chaney, Hunter Miller, and Cody Miller.
Lap 1: Fast In The Desert
Cam-Am came to KOH with a mission for victory, but they weren’t the only ones. We counted all of the major manufacturers with race entries but it was Polaris who brought out the big guns. Ace wheel-man like Bryce Menzies, Casey Currie, and RJ Anderson were all there to spoil the plans. But would they be able to take the crown in their Polaris RZRs? By the end of the first lap, one of those Polaris drivers was out of contention but the other was leading the race.
Menzies was on a tear, leading the pack by 47 seconds by elapsed time. The reigning king was the next fastest through the desert though, and Menzies would have his hands full in the rocks. Phil Blurton and Mike Park were also within a couple of minutes of the lead when the Lap 1 times were totaled.
Lap 2: Chaney Runs Away
This year’s new figure eight style track configuration brought a new twist. There would be no traffic to deal with for the leaders on the second and final lap. Spooners would be the first set of rock trails to shake up the lead. By the time they reached those obstacles, it was Kyle alone in the lead. Menzies had broken only a few miles into Lap 2.
With Bryce out, the Pro Mod class cars of Phil Blurton and Dustin Jones looked to be the only ones positioned to challenge Kyle. Then Cole Clark showed up. Jones, who got hung up in Sledgehammer, left open the opportunity that Cole was waiting for and took physical 3rd by the time they had cleared the mailbox.
2023 UTV Hammers Championship Results
At 3 hours and 31 minutes, Kyle Chaney crossed the finished line, laying down a dominating run. Can-Am and Chaney had done it again, but this time in a stock class X3 to take the overall win. And by over 10 minutes. Phil Blurton was next across the line taking a class win in Can-Am Pro Mod. Rounding out the Podium was Cole Clark, breaking up a podium sweep for Can-Am. His performance does more than hint at another valid threat to compete at the top of the ladder.
To see the full list of the competitor’s finishing order, check out the official King of the Hammers results. You can also check out how the Cam-Ams did in the Nitto Race of Kings.
Here’s what a few of the drivers said about this year’s race.
“It’s definitely a mind game for sure. I mean, you just think about it (the race and course) all the time and think about the trails changing and everything. You pre-run as much as you can, but everything changes every time you get to it.” – Reigning UTV Hammers Champion (2021, 2022, 2023) Kyle Chaney
“It’s fun, and rough, and violent in the car the whole time. But we run almost 30 races a year and there’s nothing like this with all the people and the vendors and the crowd. It’s one of the hardest races we do all year and the one we haven’t won yet. Looks like we’re going to have to come back again next year and try again.” – Phil Blurton
“Getting through the dust in the desert was the worst for me, but the rocks were fun. Driving solo takes so much more preparation and I use two GPS units. You have to know exactly what’s going on and keep your head in the game. I spent two weeks out here pre-running and know every inch of the course.” – Cole Clark
King of the Hammers: 2023 Cam-Am UTV Hammers Championship Replay