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2019 King of the Hammers Race Recap from Reid Nordin

Polaris RZR XP Turbo S

By Reid Nordin, Walker Evans Racing

KOH report from the right seat of car 4952

My 2019 King of the Hammers started out sometime in November or earlier as Ronnie Anderson wanted to race this historic event and asked if I would coach him. Since I love rock crawling and have been helping coach people for a few years in the rocks it was an easy decision for me.

I actually went out to the Hammers several times prior to coaching Ronnie Anderson with Jon Crowley doing video and photo stuff for not only UTV Guide stuff but I always need content for Walker Evans Racing so making extra trips is another easy choice.

Jon and I ran the usual trails and guessed about where Dave Cole was going to layout the course this year. We surmised by last year’s direction and rumors a basic layout that we thought was plausible. The closer the event came the more we learned but we still expected a super hard and challenging course.

The day came when Ronnie finally had a Break in his schedule and could come out for a couple days of playing on the rocks. The first couple days we had him follow us around before we set him on his own to find lines. He was a quick learner and it didn’t take him long to understand momentum and throttle control in the rocks are important.

There was no doubt in my mind that with his pure driving talent, knowledge and feel of what a RZR can take and some coaching and experience in the rocks he could be a threat to finish well.

Over the course of the next two months we both spent a ton of time at the Hammers running some of the toughest trails in both directions. We practiced winching up some of the hardest obstacles like Back Door when the rumor was floated about going up Back Door and Sledge. If these rumors were true this was going to be a seriously challenging course.

I wanted to spend more time in the desert since that loop was going to be longer in 2019 due to the T1 class. I knew having a solid base of knowledge of the desert loop would help come race day. We ran last year’s course forward and backward and I did some mileage testing since we knew fuel stop strategy could also play a part.

So while Ronnie and I were doing our dirt recon the RJ Anderson Motorsports Team was building our race machine. We chose our parts carefully and they built a beautiful and solid RZR XP Turbo S that I had all the confidence in the world in.

So flash forward to the week of the race and the map still was not out and our speculation grew each day. The closer the race got the more markers we found and by the time the map was released we already knew most of the details. There was some confusing bits but it all came clear once the official map was released on Thursday at noon.

So once the map came out we worked on our strategy more and prepped for a Saturday qualifying. This was something Ronnie got to do on his own as he didn’t need me as ballast for that. The rain was on its way and Dave Cole decided it would be best to remove one rock obstacle in fairness to all competitors.

Ronnie blistered the qualifying course and set the fastest time which was awesome however some of the fastest racers were yet to come. In the end he was bested by a Can-Am and our own team mate Mitch JR

During our months of preparation I worked closely with Jon Crowley and the Guthrie’s and shared opinions and as much info as I could so we all had a solid chance to do well. It isn’t like the Guthrie’s need help since they have won 8 of 10 KOH races but it made me feel good to help other teams.

All the prep, strategy and pre running are now behind us as we line up on the inside of the second row for the big race. I know if we have a solid desert run, don’t run out of fuel we would be in a great position as we head into the rocks.

Ronnie and I chatted about our race plan and I try to keep him calm and focused. He is a cool cat and doesn’t say much so I am feeling good about his nerves. I had been joking with him for the last few months that every time I had to get out of the RZR during the race I was going to give him a demerit. I would tally those demerits and charge him accordingly at the end. I think he may have been a little worried about what these demerits were going to cost him but he was game for the challenge.

I knew the Can-Ams would have some serious desert speed and have a point to prove so I told him to let them go and to keep to our plan. As we were waiting for the first row to leave I noticed liquid running out of the bottom of Mitchie and Jon’s RZR. It seamed to cycle with the fan so I was worried for them that something was wrong and we had no way to let them know. It ended up being nothing but the overflow on the radiator but my heart sank as if it was something serious.

Polaris RZR XP Turbo S

Ronnie Anderson and Reid Nordin at 2019 King of the Hammers

The green flag finally was waved and we were next up and when it was our turn Ronnie rocketed to the front of the Can-Am. I called out the turns and told Ronnie to stay in the wash but he was excited and followed the qualifying course which put us headed the wrong direction. We came to nearly a dead stop and picked a sketchy line and dropped off a cliff back into the wash. (Glad someone fought that on video) The first Can Am did the same thing so it wasn’t only our mistake. Our little error allowed the Can Am from our row to get by but I told Ronnie not to worry that we will catch them later. Well as it turned out we caught him as we crested the hill that headed to the first lake bed. The Can Am went to the left line and I told Ronnie to stay in the middle. We were going downhill in some fairly big bumps at a high rate of speed and were coming up along side the Can-Am.

It was at that time that I noticed Ronnie was drifting left out of our line and he quickly said something is wrong when I told him to stay middle. All of the sudden he was all elbows trying to keep the car under control as our speed dropped like a rock. He barely kept her going straight as the inner tie rod end broke and the driver front wheel went whatever direction it wanted. The wheel ended up tucking under and when it did we plowed the wet sand and dug a trench and brought us to a halt.

Ronnie jumped out to assess the damage and I got on the radio and cell phone to tell our crew what had happened. With zero outside assistance allowed we only had a few choices. I could run back to the pits for parts or we could dismantled the damaged parts and limp it back. Neither option was going to be quick. So we decided to remove the damaged parts and limp back. After the wheel tucked it destroyed the lower a arm. Broke the outer CV and tried to pull the spindle apart at the pins. Everything was bound up but we finally got it all apart so we could limp back.

So our race ended just 3 miles into the race and was a heartbreak to everyone on our team but as they say “That is Racing”. We are safe thanks to Ronnie’s quick thinking and skill at driving. I was no help as being in the right seat is mostly just ballast.

Since we decided to not continue I wanted to show support to our other teams so Ronnie and I got in the pre runner and chased the rest of the race to cheer on Mitchie and Jon.

We sucked and were among the ones who didn’t make it very far but in the end we were a small part of the Guthrie family victory and now I will call Mitchie and Jon “King” until the next King is crowned.

A special thanks to those who helped make this happen.
Ronnie for asking for my help
Jon Crowley for all the time spent with me at KOH
RJ37 Motorsports for the build and support
Polaris RZR for a bad ass platform
Walker Evans Racing for the time to do it and the parts to make it happen
Gil Flores for building our “Dwayne the Rock” rock Crawler
And for my wife Jill for allowing me to do these silly boy things.

Until next year, the Hammers win again!

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