Noteworthy news dropped this week regarding next year’s King of The Hammers (KoH) race week.
A new desert race is coming to the 2019 KoH lineup. The Toyo Tires Desert Invitational Presented by Monster Energy will feature 30 elite off-road desert racers in an invitation-only, traditional open-desert, off-road truck race in Johnson Valley, California.
This new event marks the return of unlimited off-road racing to the sport’s birthplace in Southern California. It is also the first time that four-wheel-drive will not be required of trucks to compete during KoH Week.
The invited teams will vie for a $125,000 prize purse, making this the richest off-road race in the history of the sport, according to event officials. Drivers will qualify and race on the same day, Feb. 7.
The winner of the Toyo Tires Desert Invitational Presented by Monster Energy will take home $100,000, second place earns $15,000, and third place drives off with $10,000. The driver with the fastest lap time of the day earns an additional $3,750.
There will be a Last Chance Qualifying opportunity for teams that did not receive an automatic invite. Further details will be announced in the coming weeks.
With the new race taking place Thursday during the event, The Every Man Challenge featuring the 4800 Legends, 4500 Modified and 4600 Stock ULTRA4 classes will move to Wednesday, Feb. 6, while the UTV race moves to Sunday, Feb. 3.
Mo Money, No Problem
Meanwhile, Hammerking Productions has announced the Nitto King of The Hammers Powered by Optima Batteries has tripled the purse for Friday’s (Feb. 8) ULTRA4 race to $100,000 for 2019. The race winner will receive $75,000, with second place taking home $15,000, and third place getting $10,000. An additional $3,750 in payout will go to the driver that has the fastest time up one of the infamous Hammers Trails, named Idle Issues.
“Every year the support and excitement from our partners for King of the Hammers just keeps growing,” said Dave Cole, KoH founder. “This increased purse is made possible through Monster’s belief in ULTRA4 and their commitment to the sport. In just over a decade we’ve gone from 12 guys racing for bragging rights, to more than 100 elite off-road racers competing for the crown and now $100K in prize money. This type of growth is only possible through the support and commitment of dedicated partners like Monster Energy.”
Due to the brutal terrain, many competitors consider finishing the race itself a victory. In the 12-year history of the race, only six drivers have stood atop the podium to be crowned King of The Hammers. Four drivers have won twice, and only one driver, Shannon Campbell, has won the race three times. With this increase in prize money, 2019 may be the first time a new king is crowned since Randy Slawson in 2013, according to Hammerking Productions.
The 2019 running of the King of the Hammers will mark the 13th annual event held in February in Johnson Valley, California. The week-long off-road race and festival begins with Hammertown opening Feb. 1.
The week consists of multiple qualifiers and races for a variety of classes ranging from UTVs, to limited 4 Wheel Drive classes. More than 500 competitors and 50,000 spectators are expected to descend upon Mean’s Dry Lake Bed next year, which turns into a city for one week each year known as Hammertown.
With increases in prize money to the Ultra4 class to match, the total payout for KOH week will exceed $300,000.