By Jon Crowley
King of the Hammers has a reputation as the most difficult one day off-road race in the world, pushing team and machine to their breaking point, and beyond. There are many classes during the weeklong King of the Hammers event and most UTVs race in their class. This year, the UTV King of the Hammers race moved back to Thursday, and Can-Am Swept the podium for the second year in a row.
The 4400 class at Ultra4 Racing King of the Hammers is the top of the heap, unlimited class. Fully customized buggies with 40+ inch tires, 800+ Horsepower and suspension travel numbers that make you think Trophy Truck. Putting a 200HP Can-Am Maverick X3 head-to-head against these unlimited buggies can be daunting.
Last year Cody Miller took his Can-Am Maverick X3 and tested his skills and the UTV’s backbone and finished 15th. While that was a great achievement, the course for 2020 was like child’s play compared to what Dave Cole had laid out for 2021. In addition to the UTV course, the 4400 course added a joker to go up Back Door once out of three laps, plus an additional third lap that included going Up SledgeHammer, down King’s Graveyard and up Hell to Pay. Dave Cole figured only a handful would get through King’s Graveyard.
For 2021, three Can-Am racers had signed up for the 4400 race. Kyle Chaney who had just won the UTV race two days earlier. Cody Miller who finished 2nd in the UTV race and also in the raced 4400 class last year. Hunter Miller was the winner of the UTV King of the Hammers race in 2020. Hunter and Kyle qualified in the LCQ and Cody had a guaranteed spot from his finish last year. All three qualified well and had very respectable starting positions.
Cody Miller was the fastest UTV qualifier and started on the 6th row next to Levi Shirley.
Over 190 miles of unforgiving terrain in Johnson Valley lay ahead of them.
Kyle Chaney was the last Can-Am off the start line in the 11th row.
By Cougar Buttes, Cody Miller had moved up and looked to be on a mission to win the Ford Bronco given out to the winner.
The first loop was primarily desert, but had been torn up by several other races that had used the same course over the week.
By the time Cody Miller had finished lap 1 he was in 7th place physically.
The second lap is where the real rock trails kick in, but Cody Miller, Kyle Chaney and Hunter Miller had just raced these same rock trails two days before.
Cody Miller was still in the top 10 physically by the time he hit Bender Alley, but the rocks inflicted several casualties, and the fast pace Cody Miller was on took its toll and they had to stop to replace a broken part.
Kyle Chaney would be the first Can-Am to complete lap 2 with the hardest lap still in front of them.
Chaney had moved up in the field and was somewhere about 5th or 6th physically on course.
Unfortunately, Chaney made a slight mistake and ended up on his side in Outer Limits. This mistake would cost him dearly because there was nothing to anchor to that would help them winch back over.
Luckily for Chaney, Hunter Miller and Chad Hughes were behind him on course and they stopped to assist.
Chaney and Lawrence were still the first Can-Am on course by the time they go through Chocolate Thunder.
Chaney heading up Bender Alley and about ready to go up Sledge Hammer.
Sledge Hammers turned into a bottleneck of cars waiting to squeeze into the waterfall. This tough trail doesn’t really have alternate lines and even with everyone winching, it backed the line of cars up.
Cody Miller his codog Cody Taylor had made repairs on their Can-Am Maverick X3 and were back at it in Outer Limits.
Kyle Chaney, Scottie Lawrence, Hunter Miller and Chad Hughes finished just minutes apart and went up on the finish line stage together.
Attrition in 2021 was as high as ever, with only 35 of 84 competitors reaching the finish line within the 14-hour time limit. Way more than Dave Cole expected. And among those finishers were Kyle Chaney P11, Hunter Miller P12 and Kyle Chaney P21.
Cody Miller and Cody Taylor would finish and hour or so later and claim 21st place.
While these guys didn’t win, they shocked a lot of the Ultra4 team and fans by finishing a course in their Can-Am Maverick X3’s that looked impossible by anyone that knew the course like me.
2021 King of the Hammers Race Results
|POS||CAR #||BRAND||DRIVER||QUAL #||LAPS/TIME||BEHIND|
|5||25||VAUGHN GITTIN JR||23||3/8:16:53.935||15:36.5|