Saturday, February 8, 2014

Blog Update - King of the Hammers Race - Feb 7, 2014

In my travels I try to experience the local color and attend local events, yesterday was one of those days. A friend from the RV park and I took a drive to Johnson Valley about an hour away from 29 Palms, to see one of the toughest off-road Desert Races in the country.

When I say tough, I mean tough - it is a 3 lap race that covers a total of 165 miles. Lap 1 is the easiest lap with a lot of flat land desert, but on lap 2 it includes some serious rock climbing and that repeats on Lap 3 with the addition of a couple even harder spots. The drivers are required to finish within 14 hours, the winner this year took a little over 8 hours to complete the race...any repairs must be done on the course or in the designated pits and on the course must be done by the driver and his co-driver - pit crews are not allowed to follow the cars and make any repairs.

With the difficult sections named, Wrecking Ball, Chocolate Thunder, Clawhammer, Jackhammer you can imagine how hard this race is to even finish, let alone win...

I chose to try and photograph some of the race from an area near Chocolate Mountain called Chocolate Thunder it is a 12 mile section of the course and I was on the first uphill section which is one of the more difficult sections. It is affectionately known as Wrecking Ball! Just getting to this area was an ordeal with about a 5 mile cross desert drive and then from the parking area about a 1.5 mile walk in soft sand uphill then perched on the side of a rock canyon with a zillion other people, it was difficult to get to a spot with a perfect clear view, but I managed to get to a spot where I could shoot some of the action!

It s amazing these vehicles need to be built to run in excess of 100 MPH on the open desert and then be able to rock climb in the mountain I watched the various drivers pick their line up the rocks it was interesting how some made it look so easy while others struggled in the same area. Part vehicle and part driver skill.

It was a great day - On with some pictures of the action!

The wind was terrible on the drive from the start to where we watched...that tent is about to blow away!

Visibility on the drive over...

Some of the action!

Patriotic Bunch!

The view back towards "Hammer Town" and the start finish!

The "TOP" of Chocolate Thunder above where I was watching from!

Lots of sand and dirt flying!

Some "CLOSE" Competition!

Stuck with a broken drive shaft!

Winch it out!

Replace the drive shaft right there!

Back in Hammer Town near the start finish watching the big screen!

Near the finish line...

All in all a great day - the winner was #67 - Loren Healy!

Stay tuned more action from the Southern California Desert as I find it!!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

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