Murphy’s Law states anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and in off-road racing that is never a good thing. Lucas Murphy of Murphy’s Law Motorsports recently put that theory to the test at King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley, California in the toughest off-road race in America.
The Optima Batteries sponsored team headed across the country to come to the race. Heading out from Massachusetts where the weather was cold, the team did not have a lot of time to prep for the race.
We spoke to Lucas to get his view on how King of the Hammers went for them. “King of the Hammers went ok, we had a tough week a lot of travel during the week. We started out with a bad transmission, and the fear of the spares set in. It was not as great as the main transmission. With the winter we do not have much time to test the vehicle.”
“We were 10th off the line for qualifying and with as many people that were there the course changed after every pass. With us near the nope nothing was keyed in, there were no lines on the course from other drivers. We ended up not finishing qualifying which put us as a rear starter. Starting at the back of the pack is really tough with dust and traffic being the biggest issues,” Lucas explained to us about qualifying.
Starting 90th off the line is never good regardless of what race you are running. There was no wind the morning of the race so visibility was low, but the team was able to move through traffic.
Lucas recalls the first trouble they had on the course, “I do not know exactly what had happened, but the rear drive shaft broke. That was no big deal we have a spare, we pulled over to the side of the course and replaced it. When the driveshaft broke off it smashed the side of the starter, putting a dent in the housing which would not let you rotate the starter. We were unable to start the car.”
“At that point we were stuck. I thought there has to be a truck that is more broke then we are, so I picked a direction on the course and just went for it. I carry a pair of shorts in the car, put them on took off my fire suit and started running down the race course. We were on the top of a hill, I saw a car and just started running towards it. Turns out I ran about 9/10ths of a mile.”
“The driver that was stuck was Dustin Isenhour. I told him we need a starter, they had just broken an axle housing and were not going anywhere. He gave me some tools and I took the starter out and ran back gave it to my co-driver to put in while I put my fire suit back on,” Lucas told us.
That was not the only trouble they had on the course that day. All day they were dealing with what they thought was an electrical or fuel issue. The motor was not running right and doing all types of weird things. Lucas actually things the lean motor actually saved there transmission by not running at 100 percent.
Being so far behind the team planned on running as fast and as hard as they could where ever they could. They had to go and make the best of their situation. The car would still go fast through the rough stuff with the additional wheel travel.
The car is not the only thing you have to worry about on the course, the obstacles can be just as bad as Lucas explained to us, “There are definitely some difficult obstacles on the course. Sledgehammer was tough, when we got there we were the 12th car in line waiting. At one point every co-driver and half the drivers were out of the cars pushing, stacking, and adjusting rocks to free some of the cars and moving again.”
With that being said we wanted to find out what Lucas thought the most difficult and his favorite part of King of the Hammers was, “The sitting and waiting for other teams to go is one of the must frustrating parts. When you are in your car floundering it is hard to watch. You have the line you want to go and then if a car breaks down you have to find a different way through with them stuck.”
“I look forward to the wide open desert sections. Our car does really well out there in the big whoops, and it is fun chasing down dust. It is unique for us because we are not used to it. It is always one of our highlights to be able to get out into the open desert,” Lucas mentioned about his favorite part.
Even with everything that had happened on race day the team still finished the race. The team finished 16th out of 104 teams that started the race. Lucas says they do not have any other races planned this year and do not do any series races back East. The team may find a couple as there are things they want to change on the vehicle.
Murphy’s Law Motorsports is sponsored by Optima Batteries, and we asked Lucas how they held up to the brutal terrain this year, “With everything you have to worry about, not having to worry about the battery is really nice. The ones in the car are three years old, I could get new ones, but these work perfectly fine. They start the car when we want to, they have plenty of power. We carry two of them on the car, and can run one completely dead and start it with the other one if an alternator goes out.”
No plans are good plans in this case as Lucas told us about the plan for the rest of the year,”My co-driver has twin boys that limits his ability to help out, it is just how life happens. We are in our eighth year of racing, and it wears on you. We are going to enjoy weekends away camping and boating.”
No matter what Lucas and the Murphy’s Law Motorsports team plans on doing we are sure they will have fun doing it. Hearing the stories like his about the events on the course are what really makes this sport unique. Everyone is willing to help another team, and let them accomplish their dreams.