King of the Hammers is in full swing and as many of us wait to watch the races later in the week, this past Sunday the UTVs took to the desert and rocks. It was the 2020 Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, California that kicked off the race week, and if the name was any sign of what was to come, we all missed it.
The Can-Am team drivers hit the desert with one thing on their mind and in the end, they accomplished it – Win. It was a racer and rock-crawling rookie, Hunter Miller, taking home the top spot with fellow Can-Am racers Kyle Chaney and Phil Blurton rounding out the historic all Can-Am podium sweep.
The success for Can-Am this year has continued from Dakar, with Can-Am and American racer, Casey Currie, winning the rally for the first time to the desert of Southern California. Can-Am drivers took four of the top five spots and eight of the top 10 in Sunday’s UTV race. Only 33 of 131 entries completed the 143-mile course that included a 77-mile desert loop with high-speed lakebeds with tight, twisty ridgelines and numerous rock-strewn chutes and nerve-wracking challenges.
“It’s the absolute hardest race I’ve ever done in my entire life,” Miller said. “I’ve been racing for 25 years now, and I’ve never experienced anything like this. Next to the day, my wife said ‘yes,’ this is the best day of my life.”
Miller had a great start to the race after earning the second qualifying spot behind his younger brother and eventual ninth-place finisher, Cody Miller. It wasn’t easy the entire race and battle with this podium teammates, but still took his Maverick X3 X rc Turbo RR and co-driver, Chad Hughes, to the finish line.
“I could go fast in the desert because I have an awesome car setup,” said Miller. “My Can-Am X3 was flawless the whole day. We got to the rocks, which were not my strong suit, and Chad Hughes guided me through it – I couldn’t have done it without him.”
“We caught up to Hunter in the lakebed and I thought the trail went right behind him. I was in the dust and I went off of a cliff, and it rolled,” said Chaney, who pushed on to the finish after turning his car back over. “I told people I wouldn’t be happy unless I won, but I’m just as excited for Hunter to win, and I’ll take second place any day from what we went through.”
Blurton, who is a multi-time desert-racing champion and has placed in the top 10 at King of the Hammers the previous two years, had another strong showing in his No Limit RD-built Can-Am. His third-place finish was a career-best at the race, and it secured the podium sweep for Can-Am.
Other Can-Am racers included Nathan Wolff, who earned fifth place, and 2020 Dakar SSV champion Casey Currie was seventh, while Jason Weller was eighth, and Nicholas Turner shortly behind to round out the top ten. One race down and four more to go this week the action is far from over.