Once again, the time has arrived for the off-road world to descend onto the dry lake beds of Johnson Valley, California. King of the Hammers presented by Nitto Tire is kicking off, and as usual, 2024 promises to be epic and action-packed three weeks. But, with so much going on at this year’s King of the Hammers (KOH) it can be a little overwhelming. Don’t worry though, Off Road Xtreme is here with everything you need to know about this year’s event and help you catch all the action whether you are out on the lake bed or catching the race from home.
What is King of the Hammers?
It all started 18 years ago when twelve buddies decided to duke it out on some of the harshest terrain you can drive on for bragging rights and a case of beer. From that, an entirely new segment of off-road racing was born and eventually the the Ultra4 racing series was formed. Combining the speed of desert racing with the skill and endurance of rock crawling creates one of the toughest forms of racing around.
This year there are over 630 competitors registered to race!
Every year the series starts its season with its premier race, King of the Hammers. Over the past 18 years, KOH has grown into one of the largest off-road events in the world. This January over 100,000 people will migrate to the normally desolate Johnson Valley located in Southern California. Every year, this event just keeps getting bigger and the 2024 KOH will host half a dozen major off-road races, with loads of practice, qualifying, exhibitions, and other forms of high-octane entertainment.
Simply put, this is the “Burning Man” of motorsports and there is no other live-action event that compares. Keep these maps handy.
2024 King Of The Hammers Official Schedule
Kicking off on Thursday, January 18, the gates of HammerTown officially open and the lake bed is open for business. For the next seventeen days, Johnson Valley will swell to a larger population than most cities. Everything culminates on the final weekend with the main event on February 3rd. Here is the 2024 King Of The Hammers official schedule.
Thursday, January 18, 2024
- Noon Gates Open
Saturday, January 20, 2024
- 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Liqui Moly King of the Motos Race One, Remote Start (ends in HammerTown)
Sunday, January 21, 2024
- 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Liqui Moly King of the Motos Race Two, Start and Finish at Chocolate Thunder
- 5:00 PM – Liqui Moly King of the Motos Awards in Hammertown
Saturday, January 27, 2024
- 8:00 AM – Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy Prologue
(all Desert classes: T1, T2, T3, T4, B1, B2, B3, B4, and 1400/1450’s registered in the Unlimited Sunday Race)
- 10:00 AM – 1400/1450 Rush (following Desert Prologue)
- 2:00 PM – Baja Vida Class 11 Showdown Presented by EMPI – Land Rush Start (following Prologue and 1400/1450 Rush)
- 6:00 PM – Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy Awards
Sunday, January 28, 2024
- 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy
(Limited Trucks and Buggies Race One for B2, B3, B4, T3, T4)
- 12:30 PM – Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy
(Unlimited Trucks and Buggies Race Two for T1, T2, B1, and 1400/1450 registered in Unlimited Race)
Monday, January 29, 2024
- 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM – Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship Qualifying
- 2:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship Power Hour
- 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM – KOH Kids 170 Tech, Tech Tent
- 6:00 PM – KOH Kids 170 and 4900 Youth 1000 Mandatory Drivers Meeting, WARN VIP Tent
- 6:00 PM – Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Pro Eagle & Buggy Whip at Pro Eagle Booth
Tuesday, January 30, 2024
- 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM – Every Man Challenge Qualifying
- 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Every Man Challenge Power Hour
- 6:00 PM – KOH Kids 170 Race on the Short Course
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
- 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM – Nitto Race of Kings Qualifying
- 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship Tech and Contingency, Enter at Gate 3
- 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Nitto Race of Kings Power Hour
Thursday, February 01, 2024
- 8:00 AM – Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship Race Start (Youth 1000 Start 30 Minutes Post)
- 9:00 AM – King of the Hammers Overland Experience Presented by SHIFTPOD Opens
- 6:00 PM – Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship Race End
Friday, February 02, 2024
- 8:00 AM – Every Man Challenge Race Start
- 6:00 PM – Every Man Challenge Race End
Saturday, February 03, 2024
- 8:00 AM – Nitto Race of Kings Race Starts
- 10:00 PM – Nitto Race of Kings Race End
- King of the Hammers Overland Experience Concludes
How To Watch The 2024 King Of The Hammers
One thing that KOH has done really well is their ability to bring the action to you. With multiple ways to watch, live coverage across the course, and an all-new tracking system it’s easier than ever to enjoy the races. Plus, there is so much more than just racing going on throughout the event. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to experience KOH 2024.
Experiencing It Live
An experience, that is exactly what attending KOH is. There is something for everyone out on the lake bed. HammerTown gives you access to food, vendors, and several jumbotrons to watch the entire race. This year, there will even be a HammerTown general store stocked full of supplies to replenish your reserves or grab the items you may have forgotten to pack. There will also be live entertainment throughout the event in HammerTown every day as racing winds down.
If you want to get a little closer to the action, several spectator areas allow you to get up close to the course. Even in these remote viewing areas, there will be more jumbotrons showing the live feed so you can see the entire track. Traffic can get a little heavy between the spectator spots so plan according and use an offline mapping system like ON X OffRoad.
6th Annual King of the Hammers Overland Experience
If getting away from the crowds is more your speed, there is just the thing for you. The KOH Overland experience is a chance to mix the race with an overland adventure. Based just 3 miles away from HammerTown, the Overland Experience is easy to find with the ON X app and a worthy destination.
The KOH Overland Experience Basecamp will feature overland-specific vendors so you can see their latest and greatest gear. Those vendors will also be hosting classes, and and educational sessions. They are promoting self-guided tours to share some of the best areas to explore in Johnson Valley. All of the experience is included with your general admission so just swing by. On the final race day, there will also be a follow-the-leader trail ride out to a remote race viewing area to ensure you get a unique view of the race.
For more info on the Overland experience head over to kingofthehammers.com/overland and get the full schedule.
Dubbed the “Space Camp” you will know you have arrived by the field of gleaming silver SHIFTPOD domes. SHIFTPOD has been a huge part of the Overland Experience from the beginning. What’s a SHIFTPOD? Well, it’s possibly the most advanced temporary shelter around. To check one out swing by while you’re at KOH or visit SHIFTPODS website.
How To Watch The 2024 King Of The Hammers From Home
Can’t make it out to the lake bed? Don’t worry one of the reasons KOH has grown so fast is the investment in bringing the race to you wherever you are. This year is expanding even more with better tracking, more live cameras, and ways to watch. For full race coverage head over to the King of the Hammers YouTube where you can catch highlights or as a premium member watch each race from start to finish.
MavTV will also be broadcasting daily highlights from every race so look for them on your favorite streaming service or cable provider. Tune in this Sunday, January 21 starting at 12:00 noon ET with daily encore airings at 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM ET/PT.
And of course, you can stay tuned to Off Road Xtreme for recaps, exclusive photos, and results of the races as well as some of the other fun from the lake bed.
Liqui Moly King Of The Motos
Kicking off the action is the King of The Motos. Here racers will be tackling some of the toughest trails imaginable on two wheels. This is a GPS-based enduro race that will challenge riders to two days of racing. Both days will feature a land rush start and head straight into the rocks.
Day one will be a two-lap race, the exact distance and courses will be released the week of the race. Racers must get to the first virtual checkpoint to qualify for the day two race, but no one wants to quit there. Day two takes the riders over to Chocolate Thunder where they will be completing a three-loop course with 70-percent new tracks compared to past events.
King of the Motos brings out riders of all levels but here are some names to keep an eye out for during the race. Trystan Hart took his KTM to the top of the podium last year and will be looking for a repeat. Cody Webb will be another rider to watch, finishing second last year, he will be hungry for that win. Another name to watch for is Kylee Sweeten, she took the Pro Womens podium and is sure to be charging hard again in 2024.
Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented By Monster Energy
Week two will be all about the desert racing. This is where you will get to see many top desert racers hit the dry lake beds and open landscape of Johnson Valley. Split into Limited, Unlimited, and a special Class 11 showdown will bring out some of the biggest names in the sport.
The limited classes and UTV will be taking on a multi-lap 37-mile course this year at KOH. Word from the lake bed is recent rains have shaped the natural washes into what will be a very exciting course. With the mix of classes out on course, it will take a little luck and a lot of skill to finish up top.
Last year was a battle between the UTVs and the buggies. Overall, a buggy piloted by Ezra Ebberts won the day, but he was only seconds quicker ahead of the first UTV driven by Braden Sims. With this year and the new course, the UTVs may be able to pull the advantage over the 10 cars.
The UTV field is stacked this year and here are a few names to keep an eye out for on the course. Dustin Jones will surely be pushing hard and his PRO Modified Can-Am will be one to watch. Phil Blurton is another Pro Modified KOH vet who knows how to navigate both the rocks and desert and is always in contention for a win. In the Pro Stock class, Joe Terrana is coming off a great performance in Laughlin and will be one to watch.
The unlimited classes will be split into two days of racing. Day one will be a prologue on the 37-mile limited course. This lap will determine day two’s starting order as well as be added to the racer’s total time. On their second day, racers will head out for two 97-mile laps covering some familiar areas as well as a big section of brand-new course.
Last year Adam Householder earned the top podium spot and went on to win the Unlimited off-road championship. Second overall went to Troy Grabowski in his SPEC truck, and with the weathered course, the power difference between the classes may not be a factor and create an opportunity for a spec truck to take the overall. The 94 of Christopher Polvoorde will be another truck to keep an eye out for. Polvoorde is moving up a division with his brand-new Mason Motorsports AWD Trophy Truck. He has shown speed in the past as an event winner and qualified first last year at KOH.
Baja Vida Class 11 Showdown Presented By EMPI
Last year’s Class 11 showdown was some of the best racing at KOH. This year is promising to be an even better show. Getting their own 4-mile course, the bugs will be battling out for almost 40 miles. The land rush start will take place on the lake bed and wind back to HammerTown ten times during the race.
If you didn’t catch the start of last year’s class 11 showdown it’s worth a watch and you can see an amazing view from the guys over at Slow Ride here. The VWs will be hitting the course after the unlimited prologue on Saturday the 27th. All the big names in class 10 racing will be there so really it could be anybody’s race, so as far as who to watch out for, how about we just say watch?
King Of The Hammers
The Main event of every KOH are the rock races. Split into three days with UTVs, Everyman Challenge (limited), and the Race of Kings (unlimited); the racers will take turns tackling the course. This year’s course is bringing all new challenges to the racers with new trails and even some new choices. Drivers will encounter a “choose your own adventure” section that could reward bold drivers choosing to take the harder but shorter routes or punish those that bite off more than they can chew.
Looking back to the past for inspiration, KOH founder Dave Cole is bringing back a 3-mile loop from 2012 with a twist for qualifying. This course will challenge every driver as it includes a technical desert section, a high-speed section, and one of the toughest rock features on the lake bed.
Starting in HammerTown the course winds through a series of tight turns and whoops before turning towards the lake bed. There it’s up a sandy section and down a soft and very steep drop onto flat ground. That flat ground will be all about speed until the drivers come to the infamous Back Door. Once down it’s a quick run through a canyon and back into the short course at HammerTown.
Back Door is probably going to be the best spectator spot for qualifying. With screens set up, you will be able to watch the whole course until the rigs get there. As always, the spot fills up fast so don’t wait till right before Power Hour to head out. What’s Power Hour? Power Hour is the last segment of qualifiers that are anticipated to run the fastest times. KOH stacks them all up at the end so you never know who will take the top spot until the last rig finishes.
Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship
UTVs are the fastest-growing segment at KOH. They are also seeing the most growth in performance, with multiple drivers pulling double duty and competing in the Race of Kings as well. Last year saw multiple UTVs finish in the top 10 of the main race.
With over 115 entries registered for this year’s Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship, it will be a stacked field. Last year’s winner Kyle Chaney will be on course and looking for a repeat. Phil Blurton is another name to watch on the trackers. He finished first in class and second overall last year. Both Cody and Kyle Miller had top 10s in the UTV race and the Race of Kings last year in their Can-Ams so that pair has the speed to move up this year.
Nitto Tires Race Of Kings
The last day of racing at KOH is reserved for the toughest most advanced rigs on the lake bed. The roughest trails will challenge the unlimited 4400 trucks, making this the toughest one-day race on the planet. Let’s take a look at a few of the top contenders for the title of “Hammer King”.
On top of the list is Rual Gomez, the reigning king, claiming the title two years in a row. Could 2024 be a three-peat? Jason Scherer has been the runner-up for each of the last two years and he will be charging hard in his Ford Bronco to steal the crown from Gomez. Randy Slawson is another multi-time winner who is always in the hunt for another title so watch for him as well. There are another 8-10 that could take it as well.
King Of The Hammers Spectator Pro Tips
If you’re heading out for the first time, check out KOH’s FAQ page here for some of the basics. We also have a few tips that have helped us along the way at previous KOH races.
- Bring a neck gator. After a few days, the lake bed can get incredibly dusty.
- There will be little to no cell service on the lake bed so have your maps downloaded for offline use, OnX Offroad has saved us a few times when we got lost in the sea of RVs.
- Bring way more supplies than you think you will need: Firewood, ice, food, snacks, drinks, water, and more firewood! But the KOH General store will be open in case you run out.
- Pack for all seasons and weather.
- Wear durable gear and expect it to get thrashed: Boots, overalls, coveralls, and other work wear. You can always separate the comfortable and the rookies by what they are wearing.
- Dress in layers: Outer shells, warm inner layers, beanies, gloves, sunglasses, or goggles.
- If you drive or ride in a UTV, wear a helmet or get a ticket.
- It’s always worth the drive out to Chocolate Thunder after the track goes cold to watch the crawlers go at it.
- If you’re heading to areas like Back Door or Turkey Claw during the race keep in mind that traffic through HammerTown can take up to 30 minutes to get through, so plan accordingly.
- HammerTown will have provisions, such as ATMs, hot food, ice vendors, and even a tavern with rotating craft beers.
The 2024 King of the Hammers should be one for the record books so stay tuned to Off Road Xtreme for info and news. See you out on the lake bed!