King Of The Hammers 2024: Race Recap And Photo Gallery

The dust has settled across the dry lakebeds of Johnson Valley, California and the 2024 King of the Hammers (KOH) is complete. This year was a wild event with some of the best racing we have seen. Filled with dominant performances, tight battles, and more than a few dashed dreams just miles from the finish line, KOH truly reinforced its tag line of “the toughest week of one-day, off-road races in the world.” Join us for a look at this year’s action.

With three weeks of racing and activities, KOH keeps getting bigger and bigger. But like every year, the event culminates with the final few days of racing. Those final three days play host to the “rock races,” the races that set King of the Hammers apart from any other racing series out there. A brutal mix of high-speed desert, technical low-speed sections, and some flat-out ridiculous rock areas that most would consider closer to an unpassable rockslide than a racecourse.


Kicking off the last week of racing was qualifying. With the 2024 main racecourse layout, drivers would be hitting the first of many rock sections within a few miles of the start. That meant getting ahead of the inevitable traffic jam could make a difference when times were added up. But the only way to be sure and avoid an early race stoppage would be to leave the starting line in an early position.

To secure that early start, the racers would have to push hard across the three-mile qualifying lap. Sharing the first mile with the previously run course for the Toyo Desert Challenge, this section was already rutted in and torn up before a single rig left the line for qualifying. The next challenge the drivers would face was a steep sandy climb before dropping back down onto the desert floor. From there it was time for another climb into the Resolution rock section. Resolution would be the first look at the rocks, but not the last for drivers that would choose to shortest path and navigate Back Door. After clearing the rocks, it would be through the Bronco arch and back into Hammertown to stop the clock.

Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship 

The first of 115 cars lined up for qualifying as the rising sun started to light up the valleys. Then one at a time they set off to secure their starting positions. Only a few UTVs in and a few things about the course became obvious, a bad line on the drop back into the desert floor could quickly spell disaster and Back Door would be the fastest line.

The reigning king, Kyle Chaney, would be the last out on the day. Setting a blistering pace through the first sections it was obvious he could be close to taking the pole. Then Chaney took his Can-Am Maverick R and went full send. Literally skipping across the tops of massive rocks, he sailed down Back Door securing his spot to lead the field off on race day, besting the closest competitor by over 15 seconds.

Every Man Challenge

At the start of day two of qualifying, Chaney was still the talk of KOH. Not to be shown up by a UTV, the EMC competitors were going to hit the course fast and hard. For some, it was too hard and fast though. Flats were a common occurrence across the day, stealing valuable time from a lot of great runs.

For the EMC rigs it was Kent Fults earning the pole. Completing his run early he was able to lay down the quickest time and it held throughout the day. As the runs went on, the course was showing signs of heavy wear and appeared to be rougher and slower for later drivers.

Nitto Race of Kings Qualifying 

When the 4400 Unlimited Class rigs hit the course, it was obvious that it would take a fast time to earn the pole. Darian Gomez set a fast pace early at just over seven and a half minutes. That time held through the morning until Levi Shirley laid down a heater of a run besting Gomez by 13 seconds.

But Levi would not hold the pole for long, while interviewing about his lap, Cade Rodd would become the only sub-7-minute qualifier at this year’s KOH with a 6:42 lap time. That Time would hold through power hour, with Paul Wolff setting the next fastest time at 7:06.

2024 Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship

With the starting orders sorted out, the only thing left to do was race. With three consecutive titles and the pole position, all eyes were on Kyle Chaney. Piloting the latest UTV from Can-Am, the Maverick R, Chaney would be looking for his fourth consecutive crown. But KOH is a long race and Ronnie Anderson was looking to keep the recent Polaris charge alive and dethrone the king.

At the end of the first lap, it was the 191 of Chaney physically first into the pit. But it was far from over as they headed into the rocks. Missing a VCP and catching a flat coming out of Jack Hammer brought the split times close enough that it was still anybody’s race.

The Chase Is On

Then CJ Greaves, Phil Blurton and Brock Heger got bunched up heading through Chocolate Thunder. That was the break Chaney needed, with those three losing time, it would be a challenge for anyone to catch the Kyle.

About 10 miles out from the finish the front right tire on the 191 started to go down. One more break for the chasers, but now it was four cars in the hunt. Mitch Guthrie Jr had joined the fight, getting through the rocks cleanly. One by one they came across the line, but with penalties it was unsure what the final order would be.

The Results

It was announced that Chaney had earned his fourth consecutive title. Guthrie would officially take Second Place less than 6 minutes behind. Blurton rounded out the podium in Third Place. In the battle of the brands Can-Am would take this one but Polaris was knocking out the door with three rigs in the top five.

Dave made a tough fun course, it was tough, and the weather definitely made it a challenge.  – Kyle Chaney 

2024 Every Man Challenge

KOH’s Limited race is a battle of multiple classes. The 4800 Branik Motorsports Legends Class are the fastest most capable of the day and would be where the overall winner would come from. This race would also play host to the 4600 Currie Enterprises Stock Class, which is quickly becoming a fan favorite pitting factory rigs against each other.

Kent Fults led the pack out and into the first rock canyon, Turkey Claw. But just a few miles in, his rig caught fire and he pulled over, ending his race. A small group of drivers passed Fults and could be seen heading into the open desert.

Turkey Claw was jammed up like a freeway at rush hour. Both the main and secondary lines were blocked and over the next 30 minutes every car that started quickly ran into the stoppage piling up over 35 cars in the canyon. The small group that got through had gotten smaller as well, with two cars colliding where two lines turned back into one. This left Mike Slawson with open air into the desert lap.

Slawson was first in from lap 1, but he was pitting, so another Slawson could take the wheel of the car. Three time former king, Randy Slawson was jumping in to pilot the team through the rocks. During the stop the number 22 of Stephen Rose came through and without a pit stop would lead the race into lap two.

Into the Rocks

Rose was two minutes ahead as they headed into Turkey Claw for the second time. But that would barely be enough on adjusted time. He needed to put some space between him and Slawson. About halfway through the rocks Rose had made up some more time. Nicholas Allegri had also moved ahead of Slawson on adjusted time and into Second.

But very few have run these trails more than Randy Slawson and he began his charge. Taking every trail with precision his 4848 car started to make up time. Avoiding one rock or hole at a time, he was slowly reeling in Rose’s 22 car. Then in Spooners he made his move and from there it was all Slawson to the finish line.

When the times were tallied Randy won by a margin of less than 2 minutes over Rose. Jeremy Jones finished in Third. In stock class Bailey Cole took the win, adding to the Ford Bronco’s KOH resume.

“We had a fun day wheeling Johnson Valley; this new car took us the distance and I’m really happy about it.” – Randy Slawson

2024 Nitto Race of Kings

The last day of racing at KOH is reserved for the 4400 Unlimited Class. This is the big show, with the top drivers in the some of the most advanced off-road machines on the planet. Each rig balancing the fine line between fast in the desert and capable of crawling over the toughest of obstacles.

Cade Rodd would lead the field onto the track with Paul Wolff next to him. Despite starting in the outside lane Wolff took the hole shot and started setting the pace. Then two by two a total of 116 cars roared off the line.

As the rigs finished the first lap it was a pair of Broncos nose to tail. Loren Healy was the first into the infield with Jason Scherer right behind him. Next in was Casey Currie in his trophy Jeep. But with two laps through the rocks ahead the race was far from over.

Kings Are Made in the Rocks

Shortly into lap two, Healy caught a flat and Currie would lead the pack into the rocks. After that, Healy would have an extended stop at the remote pit to replace a steering pump. Then as the race neared the halfway point in the rock trails a familiar name started moving up in the pack. Reigning king, Raul Gomez, started pushing past cars. Gomez’s run would take him all the way past Currie and into the lead.

Behind those leaders, Scherer and Rodd both became stuck in Outer limits. That’s when the little Can-Am that could showed up. Taking full advantage of his smaller rig Kyle Chaney was able squeeze past where the larger trucks got stuck. The order was now Gomez, Currie, and Chaney.

It Ain’t Over ’til it’s Over

Although he wasn’t running away with the race, Raul Gomez was expanding his lead. With the number of major trails between him and the finish winding down it all changed when Gomez’s signature UFO car rolled. Despite attempts to get it back on four wheels Gomez sat on a rock and watched Currie take the lead.

Then, what started as a quick final pit stop turned into a nightmare for Currie. He sat in the pits with his crew repairing a driveshaft and ring and pinion as Kyle Chaney passed by taking the physical lead. A UTV was leading the 4400 race with 30 miles to go. But KOH wasn’t done with stripping away hopes just yet.

In outer limits Lauren Healy, who had been making up time was less than a minute behind now. The Can-Am was losing ground and fast and before the end of the trail the Bronco had taken the lead.

One Last Heartbreak

With four leaders in the last 30 miles, Healy was 15 minutes away from victory. Then, as quickly as he took the lead, he stopped. With five miles left his transmission gave up and his race was done. Chaney was back in it, for a moment at least. Before he could close the gap to the stopped Bronco, his rig’s front suspension collapsed. Chaney would have to traverse Resolution with a completely destroyed frontend.

Speaking to strength of the Can-Am, Chaney did finish but with so much lost time and a large penalty racked up earlier he would end up in Eighth when it was said and done. That left a Gomez in the lead on time, but not Raul Gomez.

The Dark Horse

It was JP Gomez, coming from a 99th place start that would claim the crown. Methodically collecting time throughout the day he ran a clean race. Although he never physically led the race, he was able to charge hard all the way to the finish.

“My heart sank when Raul flipped over on Big Johnson,” explained Gomez. “Loren passed me like a bat out of hell, and I was like, man, I must be driving really slow. Oh man, that was a race! I got down to Outer Limits and there was Erik Miller, Jason Scherer, Cade Rodd, and some other guys. Thanks to Jason for spotting me and letting me run over his car. Me and Harrell battled at the end, but it was pretty open. This is great!”

In Conclusion

King of the Hammers 2024 was a wild one. Every race was packed with excitement, and no one could have predicted the drama that filled the Race of Kings. This year’s KOH truly showed why this is the world’s toughest one day race.

For all the results from KOH and more information on the Ultra4 racing series head over to the official website here.

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Dustin Singleton

Dustin is an internationally published photographer and the founder of IALS Photography. Managing a successful mobile electronics shop led him to become completely entrenched in the tuner scene.
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