February 18, 2014, *Part 1* King Of The Hammers 14', 4th Place!

King of the hammers 2014, 4th Place!!!


Well I've been sitting here for a sometime trying to figure out what to say about our week at king of the hammers. I just can't seem to put it all into words. I have read some very long write ups and thought there's no way I can put that much time into this. Unfortunately as you start typing there's just so much to say, so many people to thank, and it's a little longer than I thought for sure.


First and foremost thank you to my wife Angela Hallenbeck and my beautiful children for supporting my decisions to race again in 2014. My wife is an amazing kindhearted person who deals with a lot of my crap (a lot) and time away from home. Without a doubt she is our number one fan and I am blessed to have her as my wife! Happy Valentine's Day honey!


I also cannot have done it without the support of my awesome team, Bernie Dittrich, Joshua King, Matt Pillsbury, Lacey Tisler, and Chaz Merritt. We were also honored with the team support of Robb Kaufman who drove all the way from Alberta Canada to help us out for the week .Thank you so much, EH! EH!


Our koh story started back in December when I decided to sell my business Ckrc Crawlers. With the success of our 2013 year it was obvious to my family and friends that I should pursue racing a little more and move on. This huge change put us way behind in preparing the race car, but in the future will allow me more time with my family.


I'm also glad to announce that in 2014 we will compete in not only the Norcal rock racing series, and Ultra4 West series, but we are also going to travel east for a few wet and humid races with Dave Cole.


In the week previous to KOH we were able to secure Axial racing for our 2014 title sponsor. I have had a long standing relationship with Axial and I'm excited to have them onboard. The entire crew is standup guys and huge supporters of ultra4. They make the best radio controlled Rock Crawlers (Wraith) rock racers, and scalers in the industry. I'm proud to be a part of the Axial racing team. This new sponsorship brought a lot of last minute work though. Changes to the race car included getting a new vehicle wrap on the bomber and the full-size Axial wraith were all done in the last 2 days before leaving.


Too many late nights in the garage I suppose and the night before leaving I bulged out a disc in my back while loading the truck. To top it off I also caught the flu. We had to stay in Reno for an additional three days and putting us really behind for pre-running the koh course. It was also a crappy start to a new season.


Once we arrived we were able to mount our new tires and rims, do some tuning with iribe from King Shocks, and did some pre-running of the first high-speed lap.


Monday arrived and pre-running of the Qualifying course was allowed. During pre-running we hit the rock slider hard coming off the Red Bull waterfall. That hit knocked my back out pretty good so we decided to call it a day and forfeit for the Monday night backdoor challenge.

If any of you have ever had any real back pain it's a PITA, so I decided to save what was left for qualifying and the big race. Unfortunately this also meant we could no longer pre-run any of the courses other than the first lap we had done. It worried me, but really worried Bernie that we would have a hard time navigating the race course in the dust and would be at a total disadvantage.


Qualifying day came and went pretty well for us, we didn't want to hurt the car and our goal was to be in the top 15. Even with a completely blown out rock course we were right at the cusp of our goal qualifying 15th next to Jason Sherer and right behind our teammate Randy Slawson.


THE RACE.

For anyone that can relate, you stay up way too late the night before. You can't sleep thinking about all the things you may have missed, and then have to be up at five in the morning to gear up and get your car to the line. It's nerve-racking and one of the hardest things about racing.


8:04 AM and we were off the line for the 2014 king of the hammers. Our plan was to hit back door on the first lap and let the faster IFS cars race it out and beat themselves up in the desert. As we came around the corner of backdoor it was awesome to only see the one car of Shannon Campbell. Shannon had some issues and had to winch so we put the pass on him and were officially the first team up backdoor and resolution.


Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1tJ03hCvpc


Needless to say we were stoked with being out of the hardest rock trails quickly. Now all we were worried about is how many cars got passed us in the desert.


We flew by car after car on that first lap. It was so much fun to see all that shock tuning we did payoff in the whoops. Just when Bernie and I were feeling pretty good about our morning, a rock took out the rear brake line. Without Bernie's consent I still made three passes at over 90 mph with no brakes. It was Funny!


Unfortunately we did not plan on stopping at remote pit 1 and had no crew or parts there to help us. We just pulled into someone's pit asked for help and they put a AN cap on our rear brake line. To whomever you guys were a huge thank you and we owe you some beers!


I could go on and on about this race, lap by lap, obstacle by obstacle, but I think it's best to shorten it up. We had our issues, we had our obstacles, Bernie and I had our arguments, but the biggest obstacle we had to overcome was attrition. We were absolutely physically exhausted at the end of the second lap. They say King of the hammers is the hardest race in the world. That's no joke. It takes a solid car, solid team, solid driver, Luck, and you must be in great physical shape. Both of us were missing the later and it really kept us from pushing harder.


Regardless we had a great time battling it out in the rocks with Randy Slawson, Tony Pellegrino, Bill Baird, Brian Maloney, and Rick Moneyham.


MY FAVORITE PART OF THE RACE:

Our pit team was asked not to tell us our race position and keep radio chatter down. As we came through the last pit on the third lap Matt Pillsbury, and Rob Kaufman were standing at the entrance to the pits yelling for us to GETRDON! They opened the mic and told us we were in fifth and Bill Baird just left in front of us.


Needless to say it pumped us up and we were off pushing harder than we did the entire race to catch him. I truly don't remember much from there, but I know we were flying through the desert and we were catching that IFS car!


We pushed the Bomber so hard the motor and the transmission were pegged at 250 degrees. At some point I also called out we had no brakes again. I'm pretty sure we were just at 100mph leaving the lake bed when I said that. Visibility was crap but that last shot of adrenaline pushed us hard. Maybe to hard?


We were less then a 1/10 mile behind Bill when we saw him go into bypass 1 for the sand hill. We never pre-ran bypass 1 because we were told from multiple competitors it was very slow and not worth the time. Every lap we manned up and hit the hard wall at the back of the sand hill which appeared to be the fastest. When Bill went in there I knew we were going to be ahead of him on the other side and I was pumped up. Bernie however being the copilot was not happy that the gauges were still at 250, we had no brakes, and he was telling me he just wanted the hell out of the car because the sand washes were so bad. It kind of made me laugh. Still does!


We had no Dust in front of us and a mile later we saw Bill Baird's car about three quarters of a mile ahead of us on his way to the Finish line. It was a total shock and bummer for our last push. So I guess we went the slow way? Feel free to comment.


Amazingly for our first finish in King of the hammers we finished a very solid 4th place! We are extremely happy how it all ended and still a little shocked.


So why did we have no brakes? At the finish line we realized we didn't break a brake line but in fact the right front spindle was broken in half. The only thing holding the tire and wheel on was the RCV shaft. It was amazing to look at it and realize we could have lost the tire at any point, at any speed. Thank God for the RCV because I don't think a standard U-joint or yoke could've taken those angles at that speed without disintegrating itself.


Continue to part 2:




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