From the UTV race on Sunday to Wednesday’s Every Man Challenge, the 13th annual King of the Hammers has already made for one of off-road racing’s most exciting weeks of the year. But the final days of KOH are when some of the biggest names finally get to racing, as Trophy Trucks compete in their inaugural invitational event on Thursday in advance of the signature Ultra4 event on Friday.
Two dozen of Trophy Truck racing’s biggest names are in California and preparing for Thursday’s all-star event. The entry list includes both of last year’s major class champions, SCORE’s Rob MacCachren and Best in the Desert’s Justin Matney; defending Baja 1000 winner Cameron Steele; Brett Sourapas, who won last weekend’s Parker 425 to open the 2019 BITD season; Bryce Menzies, who pulled double duty with a seventh place finish in the UTV race; and multiple entries from the Herbst (Tim and Troy) and McMillin (Dan, Andy, and Luke) off-road families. Even Jesse James will return to the seat for the first time in years to compete.
The Trophy Truck race kicks off at 10AM PT on Thursday, but streaming begins from the event Prologue at 7:55AM PT. The race, which will only feature KOH’s desert sections and does not include rock crawling, promises a $100,000 prize to the winner. Competitors will tackle a total of 280 race miles, split between two 80-mile loops and three 40-mile loops.
But Friday’s race for the unlimited 4400 vehicles will embody what KOH is truly about. Over 100 drivers made qualifying attempts on Tuesday, with Nick Nelson’s 2:18:39 topping defending KOH champion Jason Scherer by just .08 seconds. Loren Healy, Bryan Crofts, and JP Gomez completed the top five.
From Casey Currie to the Campbell family, a number of drivers got an early racing start to the week by competing in the UTV race, and they each used that experience to qualify towards the front of the pack. Currie, who finished ninth in the UTV standings, will look to make up for a DNF last year from the sixth starting spot. Wayland and Shannon Campbell finished second and fourth, respectively, in the UTV race; Shannon qualified 10th and Wayland will start 12th in the 4400 race. Bailey Campbell, the third member of the Campbell Racing squad, became the first woman to post a top-five finish at KOH in 2016; she qualified 21st for this year’s event after finishing 28th in the UTV race.
Other notable names competing in the 4400 class include Greg Adler, the longtime Trophy Truck and short course racer; he’ll start 13th after qualifying just .03 seconds behind Wayland Campbell. In addition, former Formula Drift champion and 2018 Irwindale Speedway race winner Vaughn Gittin Jr. has teamed up with Healy to run this year’s KOH, and will start 37th.