If you didn’t get the headline, let me explain! There is an off road event that takes place every year in Johnson Valley California where this barren lakebed overnight turns into a populated city of its own. I’m dead serious here! This little “city” even has its own street names and signs to go with it! Now amidst the pandemic that had already shut down Coachella of all things, the King of the Hammers still remained ongoing with safety precautions in place.
Also, this isn’t just a one day event, it packs in multiple races, events and exhibits into almost two full weeks! It’s a lot to take in, I know, but on top of all of this, you’re camping. Yes, some commit to the nitty-gritty camping but with two kids and three adults, we rented a trailer, which is how majority of participants stay. We had the girls, Shaun, myself and our partner in crime, Dave and we knew that with three adults and two kids, it just wasn’t going to work without a trailer. Ha! Did I fail to mention the amazing and absolutely gorgeous sunsets we had out there??
Let me start at the very beginning of the trip… We picked up the trailer we rented and unfortunately realized that it was too small to fit our Polaris RZR Turbo S into, BY ONLY 2 INCHES! Can you imagine the level of frustration that gave to Shaun and Dave? LOL Luckily, Dave was able to manage to obtain a small flat bed trailer from a friend to carry the RZR out with us. When I said its a large lakebed, I meant, its a REALLY large lakebed and to get around anywhere you must take 4 wheels, unless your in the main town area but expect a lot of walking.
Finally, we arrived and set up camp while the girls and I were introduced to the ‘boys’ of Kenda Tire who we would be parked next to all week! Can I just break off and say how amazing these guys were?? Go Kenda! Ya’ll hire amazing guys! Anyways the first night was just that, unpacking, eating and finally sleep.
Saturday was Day one of events, and we spent most of the morning up atop this hill that overlooked part of the desert course. We drove the RZRs up a rocky hill that leveled out on top, and sat atop watching the buggies race on by. The girls weren’t too interested in the buggies and instead played ‘pretend race cars’ in the RZR together. Between cars the Kenda boys would get into a rock throwing battle to see whose rock would fly further, knock over other stacked rocks or who could get closest to Shaun without him noticing. HAHA. After a few hours watching the buggy dorks, we went back into “town” and grabbed some pizza!
OMG ok can I just brag a little about this pizza company?? Now I didn’t get the best pictures because I didn’t really know I was going to be starting this blog when we went to KOH. However, this pizza truck is a retired yellow FIRE TRUCK that has been converted to house a pizza fire pit oven in the back!! How flipping awesome is that?? AND they were here, in the middle of nowhere! After a quick bite, hanging out under the Kenda Tent, and much needed down time, it was time for the Class 11 shootout race! Starring: Aria’s favorite driver and Arcadia’s favorite car!
Later that night we watched the Class 11 shootout and both girls were screaming their lungs out watching their favorite drivers. Aria was rooting for Blake Wilkey while Arcadia was rooting for the bright pink bug driven by Cisco. Watching these bugs fly across the track and rocket off the jumps was incredible to share with the girls as this was one of their first races. After Blake won the shootout, we got to take a photo with him and Arcadia even got to sit in Cisco’s pink racecar!
Day two was Sunday and completely packed full of events for everyone! We watched the Desert Challenge as trophy trucks battled through the dust all afternoon until Bryce Menzies took the trophy! As Bryce got off the podium the girls and I got to take a photo with him after his win! Now I was still working “full time” and we decided with ZERO service on the lakebed, we would return home until Wednesday night. We missed a few things BUT I had to be the adult. Also, two full weeks in a tiny trailer gets awfully crowded with five people.
Returning to KoH
We spent a few days home and finally returned 3 days later, restocked the trailer full of goodies for everyone, and got some rest. We knew we had our hands full the next few days.
Thursday morning and most of the day was SLAM packed full of meetings, conversations, meet and greets and so forth. Shaun, myself and Dave all walked around, kids in tow, and met with as many companies as possible to announce that our magazine was now in print! EEKKK! Can you just imagine how proud our team was of that?? So was everyone else!! As we walked around Hammer Town the girls were able to see some of the beauty in off-roading and the amazing clash of humanity that is spun into the mud, sand, and desert motorsports. After meeting with a ton of people, the girls wanted to play some games at the trailer while we had lunch.
Later that evening, we set up interviews, shot a photoset for Adventure Offroad, and the girls got to meet a female racer! Quick story time.. Shaun and I planned three interviews for the piece I was writing for the magazine (Campbell Family, Gomez Brothers, and last years KoH winner Josh Blyler). Now we had run into this girl by chance when we went to the Bilstein Shocks venue and the girls immediately ran to her! They love meeting girls who race! *psssttt* Any girls wanna do a girl offroad racers birthday party for her? message me!*** Anywho, we couldn’t secure Blyler since we could never pin him down. I think he was hiding from Shaun but we can’t prove everything here 🙂 Since we were one interview down, I suggested to interview Brittany and her husband since it was their first hammers experience ever! He agreed but honestly when does he ever tell me I have bad ideas? LOL so we got to interview her and OH MY LORD! This was the first interview that I absolutely knew I was in the right position and where I belong but honestly they were the best and such humble drivers! They are an amazing couple, that I approve whole heartedly approve my daughters to look up to.
Friday was full of interviews, and it was by far the best experience of my life! Following the fun of Friday, Saturday the big race, the reason we all gathered to this barren lakebed was about to commence. The King Of the Hammers was now underway!
To say King of the Hammers was amazing, is such an understatement that I never knew of until the last two weeks of dirt. The unbelievable ability of what a determined driver, with a flexible suspension, and an out of the box thinking co driver can have on a solid axle vehicle made of duct tape, zip ties and the hopes and dreams of becoming a king is such a beautiful thing to witness. The camaraderie between teams helping one another, even if losing time themselves was such a wonderful sight of what we should be doing each day with others. KOH y’all showed me the true heart of Motorsports! I’ll forever hold KOH in my heart and I will return until the end of time!
Once we were complete with our stories for the magazine, Arcadia begged to know where Brittany and her husband were. I explained to my tiny little four and five year old that she was still on the course and since it was her first time racing the hammers she may be out there for quite a while. Their saddened faces said it all. We had to stay to wait out her finish. And we did! We tracked her online, and even wandered into Hammer town when they were getting close. It was pitch black outside, freezing cold and Arcadia was climbing the fence just waiting to see headlights and a blue and yellow car pull onto the stage. Once she saw her car, she screamed and began to cry. Once Brittany was out of the car nothing could explain the pure joy seeing Brittany light up seeing that Arcadia was waiting for her at the finish line! nothing will replace that moment, for me but definitely not for Arcadia. Nothing could hold back that little girl from hugging her first ever idol and even interrupted her interview with a huge huge before we hit the road home for long showers and even long naps!!