The 2012 King of the Hammers: The Ultimate Desert Race!
By Justin Banner
The 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers is an off road special of which many have never seen nor could have conceived. When you take the brutal, 100 plus Miles per Hour speeds and punishment of off road desert racing, and combine it with the technicality, finesse, and critical thinking of rock crawling, you start to get an idea of what the King of Hammers really is. Honestly, there is still more to it in that there is a fight for not just the trophy in this race, but the ability to continue to use public lands for this and other recreational purposes, the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers is an important race for all of us as enthusiasts.
|Like nothing you have seen!|
I know most of you guys are road racing nuts and love the technical side of those cars. You're probably saying to yourself, “Oh, great, here come the backwards thinking idiots I hate for neighbors!” I have to tell you, there is more to this event than just some hillbillies or rednecks slapping a V8 into a Jeep and climbing stuff. So, allow me to get into some explanation as to what Desert Racing and Rock Crawling are all about.
“You gotta (Rock) Crawl before you can run!”
So, to the uninformed, what is Rock Crawling? When you first hear it, the idea is simple, go over a huge rock and call it a day. However, there is so much more to it, for example in traditional Rock Crawling, it is about going over the steepest inclines without using a tow-rope or winch and staying on a marked out path without going backwards. In this type of event, you are scored points and points are taken away (or added, depending on who has organized the event) when you do use those aids. You can also score more points by taking a more difficult path, but again it usually depends on who is running the competition. The person with the least or most points, again depending on the organization, is declared the victor.
|Yep, this is Rock Crawling at some of its best! Hope you're not afraid of tipping a truck over at some point!|
In Speed Crawling, it is about getting over the hill or obstacles in the fastest time possible. No points, it's all about time. You can use your tow ropes and/or winches, you can go backwards, and you can use any path possible. Doesn't matter how you got there, just get there as fast as you can and stay on the course.
|The Falken Tire rig is built like a Typical Crawler rig. It uses a four-link, solid axle set up front and rear with coil-overs and by-pass shocks.|
A typical rig is usually a small wheel-base 4-wheel-drive Jeep Wranglers or Suzuki Sidekick (and it's variants), but can range from small pickups to large SUVs to homemade rigs. Rock Crawling is the epitome of “run what you brung,” as there are usually no true rules to define what you race with. There are stock and modified classes in some cases, but usually it's all about who can make the best crawler rig go over the most difficult terrain and steepest inclines. These rigs are typically solid axle front and rear with three-, four-link, or ladder-bar suspension arms.
Shock and Spring designs range from leaf-springs and shocks to coil-over shocks with one or multiple by-pass shocks. There are some that are sprung using air-bags and even some rigs that use hydrualic cylinders to change the load a tire is going through to ensure maximum grip. The new rig type is the independent front suspension (IFS) rigs, as usually a solid axle can put it's load on the lower tire for better grip. You lose that ability when you go IFS, but there are ways around it as 2011 King of the Hammers winner, Shannon Campbell, proved last year in his Monster Energy