Just like last year, three names stood on the Ultra4 King of the Hammers podium to conclude the series’ biggest week of racing: Scherer, Miller, and Campbell.
Once again, Jason Scherer beat Erik Miller to the finish to earn the overall race victory on Friday. This year’s finish was a bit closer than 2018, as Scherer’s margin of victory shrunk from 11:47 last year to 5:22 in 2019. Scherer, the 2009 and 2018 winner, became the first back-to-back winner in KOH history.
After Wayland Campbell completed last year’s podium, Shannon Campbell earned third place in this year’s event, climbing three spots from last year’s sixth place finish as his son took a DNF on the third and final lap. All told, this year’s podium finishers own eight KOH wins; Miller won in 2012 and 2016, while Campbell was the first three-time KOH winner, with victories in 2008, 2011, and 2017.
In all, only 29 entries finished one of the most grueling off-road races in America—exactly the same as last year. Among the 29 drivers to conquer KOH this year was Vaughn Gittin Jr., the Formula Drift champion, who finished the event in seventh. Aside from Wayland Campbell, the DNF list included some of the event’s top names, including fastest qualifier Nick Nelson and 2018 top-five finisher Raul Gomez.
Even KOH’s inaugural invitational event for Trophy Trucks, held on Thursday, saw only a third of the field finish—and that was without the rock-climbing sections that make the event such a challenge for every other class of racing. In the end, it was Luke McMillin who claimed his first win, besting Justin Lofton by 2:22 to take home the $100,000 prize for first place. Apdaly Lopez completed the podium in third.
Multiple trucks fell out of the 280-mile race on every lap, and three were unable to get off the line. Fastest qualifier Bryce Menzies and Parker 425 winner Brett Sourapas each only completed one lap, while Robby Gordon didn’t even finish the first. Andy McMillin ran up front until suffering mechanical issues after two laps, while the legendary Rob MacCachren finished three of four.
But while some of desert racing’s most famous faces will have to wait another year to conquer KOH, a familiar name made a long-awaited return to Trophy Truck and claimed the final finishing spot. Jesse James’ eighth place run marked his first race in years, after taking time away from driving to tend to his businesses and working on wife Alexis DeJoria’s NHRA Funny Car. James’ finishing time of 5:04:47.228 was just over an hour behind Luke McMillin for the win.
After KOH, the 2019 Ultra4 calendar includes three regional series. The Western series kicks off on March 22 in Rancho Cordova, CA, the Eastern series begins on April 12 in Pittsburg, TN, and the new North series makes its debut on May 11 in Billings, MT.