King Of The Hammers Desert Race Welcomes 1450 Trucks And Class 11

King of the Hammers (KOH), is the center of the off-road universe every year. KOH owner Dave Cole is always looking to bring the best show to the fans; which includes every discipline of off-road racing competition. It was originally organized around the brand-new sport of rock racing back in 2008. The event has expanded over the years to include King of the Motos for bikes, (they are back this year), desert racing for unlimited vehicles, UTV races, and in 2021 stock VW Beetles (generally known as class 11).

A Special Hammers Desert Race For Real Steel Door Slammers!

For the 2023 King of the Hammers Desert Race, the Toyo Tires Desert Challenge, there will be a special race for two of the most popular classes with desert racing fans; class 11 VWs, and steel cab 1400 trucks. The two will run together on the same course; a 40-mile loop that will also be the prologue for the longer desert race the following day. The 1400 trucks will go off the line first, followed by the 1450s. They will start at one-minute intervals. Then the VW Beetles will start. The bugs will have a land rush start! This special Hammers Desert Race will be full metal jackets only. All 1400 trucks have steel cabs and the beetles have full steel bodies. Both have working doors per the rules.

King of the Hammers has teamed up with Terra Crew to help organize and attract some of these prerunner style 1400/1450 racers. They even get their own event title called the Terra Crew Rush. The big news is it only cost as low as $300 to enter. Here is everything you need to know about KOH Competitor Registration, KOH Racer Resources, 2023 rules and safety requirements, and Entry List. So far it looks like around 16 1400/1450 racers have officially entered.

Terra Crew Rush Desert Race: Details

Race On Saturday, February 4th

  • 1 lap 40 mile rush race.
  • $300 Entry Fee.
  • $12,500 cash purse for 1400.
  • $12,500 cash purse for 1450.
  • Race on Saturday determines starting position on Sunday.

Race On Sunday, February 5th

  • Mulitple lap, 200 mile race.
  • $1300 entry fee ($1,600 total entry fee for both races).
  • Bigger cash purse on Sunday.
  • You do not have to race both races.

King Of The Hammers Terra Crew Rush

Dave Cole Has More Than Dream, He Has Authentic Fanatics!

Off Road Xtreme scored this exclusive interview with Dave Cole to shed some light on what beholds the 2023 King Of The Hammers.

“Certainly I want KOH to be the most impactful event offered in the world,” says Dave Cole. “We’re not trying to follow anybody else’s business model. Last year we had 40,000 paid through the gate. I think this year we will maybe see 50,000 fans. I think total we will be sitting around that same 60,000 to 80,000 people that will be here. It feels like we have a lot of momentum this year.

Bikes Are Back For King Of The Motos

Cole continues, “It’s going to be cool to have bikes back again this year. Our goal is to be as big as we can. The more fans, the more entries, the more sponsors and more vendors; more of everything. It makes it better for everybody. I’m just trying to make it relevant every time. I mean, our purpose in life is to make ourselves relevant every day.”

Photo Credit: High Rev Photo

No More Mr. Nice Guy: Hammers Is Bringing The Heat!

“It’s gonna be even harder this year. The Hammers desert race is gonna be faster and easier, but the rock race is gonna be exponentially harder; 27 rock trails on one lap. I’m setting the UTVs up to do all the Ultra4 trails because I’m tired of hearing how awesome UTVs are. They’ll learn the hard way.”


The Route For The Hammers Desert Race

“We’re not running the desert race over Emerson Ridge at all, so it’s going to be a really fast desert loop. Our Hammers Desert Race Prologue is gonna be really straightforward; one big lap. The big loop has a lot of new course on it, like 30 or 40 miles that haven’t raced on at all in 20 years or more. I’m really looking forward to the event we’re running this year.”

Terra Crew Is Part Of The Action To Put On The Show

“The Terra Crew guys reached out to Ted Livingston, our marketing guy, about getting the 1400 trucks out racing. That goes back to the same thing we were saying earlier. The reality is, most of the 1450 racers are out there for a different reason. They’re doing a different race than the guy that is racing the spec trophy truck class, right? So if we can give them a good opportunity to come out for some fun and give them a safe place to do it, I think that’s gonna be pretty cool.”

“I’m pairing them with class 11,’ Dave concludes. “I think it’s just gonna be fun; it’s the crowd favorite’s race. To spice things up, I might put a bounty on the 1400 trucks. Any 1400 or 1450 truck that is caught by a Beetle has to park it.”

Class 11s Are The Real Fan Favorites

Most people love the brutal power of the Ultra4 cars and unlimited trucks in the desert, but when the class 11 VW Beetles go by, everyone cheers. They understand how much skill, determination, and physical strength it takes to drive these basically stock vehicles in the same terrain as the most sophisticated and technologically advanced vehicles on the planet.

Class 11 is more popular than ever due to high-profile racers like Blake Wilkey and “Mr. Baja” Larry Roeseler racing them at KOH. Wilkey has won back-to-back at KOH. Also boosting Class 11 is Eric Solorzano and his 2022 induction into the Off Road Motorsports Hall Of Fame as the most prolific Class 11 racer ever. Eric has won 11 championships and in addition to being in the Hall of Fame, he was honored by the Mexican Government as the “Winningest Mexican in off-road racing history.” Eric builds all his own race cars.

Run Whatcha Brung At The Hammers Desert Race?

The 1400 trucks benefit from a lot of modern technology, but like many of the class 11 cars, they are typically home-built by enthusiasts. The class dictates a steel cab and working doors. Many of the trucks that competed in the early days of 1400, started as prerunner projects. They vary greatly depending on the skill of the builder, the budget, and what was available. Some were daily drivers when the owners were still in high school. It’s always been a run whatcha brung type of class which is why it’s so popular. It’s easy to root for your favorite brand because Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, Nissan, and all the rest are represented.

Building these trucks has launched the careers of many who have become full-time fabricators and even flourishing businesses. Some of the trucks that are still racing have morphed into incredibly capable machines that are very fast, but still maintain the unique look of original sheet metal. There aren’t too many OBS Ford, Ford F-100, or Chevy S-10s racing today outside of the 1400 classes.

Home-Built Pedigree

We spoke to Evan Walsh of Terra Crew who got the ball rolling with KOH. “We are a lifestyle media and apparel brand that also hosts events,” says Walsh. “We’re advocates for the little guys, the prerunner guys, the build-your-truck-in-your-garage culture. We are kind of the Hoonigans of off-road; and we’ve been labeled that by many other people. We are very passionate about the scene and the culture of the desert off-road community. We do our part to keep it alive, raise awareness, and get more people to build cool trucks.”

“We’ve been working with Ted Livingston for a few years now, as he was our contact over at On-X when he worked for them. He made the transition last year to KOH, so we kept in contact because we really liked the guy; he’s been a huge supporter of Terra Crew.”

“It first got brought up with him at Off Road Expo in October of last year doing our off-road exhibition demos. We had a good discussion with him and he suggested it actually. He was like, hey we were thinking that maybe we could get you guys to have your own class at KOH; what do you guys think?”

“We’re not really a racing brand. We do have drivers in our crew that race religiously, like the Isenhouers; Nick and Chris. Nick’s race program is one of the best of the garage race programs. Both of those guys are just blue-collar dudes that run a very successful outfit with that 6100 truck. Anyways, we were just like yeah, let’s do it. Any kind of cool opportunity to do something different, or to help our brand, or help the prerunner 1450 class kind of guys is something that we’re totally willing to do.”

Terra Crew And The Hammers Desert Race: Goals for The Future

“After Ted approached us with the suggestion, we’ve been organizing and figuring it out from there. If it goes well, Dave’s going to try his best to give us more laps and more miles next year. We initially intended on it being called the Terra Crew 100. If it does well, and people love it, we can come back and talk to Dave about doing three 40-mile laps next year making it 120 miles. If anybody is curious about what the safety requirements are, as far as window nets and cage sizes and all that kind of stuff, we’re going with Ultra4 safety requirements. We invite everyone to come out and have fun.”

Off Road Xtreme hopes this will be the beginning of a fun tradition at King of the Hammers. Everyone loves the Class 11 VW bugs and the old-school “Run Whatcha Brung” flavor of the 1400 trucks. It reminds me of the early days of off-road racing where everyone built their own stuff. It led to a lot of innovation and some crazy ideas. Look where it has gotten us today. Come out to KOH and join the fun as a racer or a fan.


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About the author

Mike Ingalsbee

For more than two decades, Mike Ingalsbee has worked as an automotive writer and photographer and covered just about everything that burns fuel or throws dirt. His writing and photography has been published in over 20 magazine titles and websites in North America, Europe and Australia. He has worked as a design engineer for several manufacturers in the automotive aftermarket and is a founding member of the Association of Motorsports Media Professionals, (AMMP), an organization that consults with racing sanctioning bodies on safety and media issues.
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