We’re going to King of the Hammers — a brutal off-road race sanctioned by Ultra4 racing — located and run amid the silty sand of a dry lake bed and the rugged, rocky crags that surround it. The purpose of our journey to Hammertown USA (the colloquial designation of the temporary city of vehicles, RVs, trailers, and tents that crops up out of nowhere for the event) is to successfully test the Hypercraft-powered EV racer/crawler rig we’ve created for KOH co-founder and owner Dave Cole. No pressure. The system we created with a Spicer Electrified motor and inverter from Dana, and all the essential EV system controls from AEM EV is working great. It’s awesome having top-tier partners.
Now, should we pack our Speedo, or our winter coat?
Well, it’s at a lakebed in the California desert, and it’s February. But this isn’t just a race, it’s a party. So just to be safe, we’ll bring both.
Day 1 – Monday
We’ve arrived in Johnson Valley at the dry lake bed. We got our badges, scouted the area for some good testing, photo, and video locations. Wow, there are A LOT of RVs here. Traffic in the middle of nowhere is an irony.
Note to self: Did not, and do not ever need to bring a Speedo to this event. Very cold.
Day 2 – Tuesday
Had a little behind-the-scenes work to do on the rig with the team today. So we headed to Dave Cole’s ranch, not too far away, and put the final touches and the rig before things kick off tomorrow. It’s an old chassis, but darn does it look good with a new hood, body panels, and a fresh wrap.
Oh, we ran into and gave a hand to the guys from EVolve Racing — some fellow nutters that also brought an EV to KOH. Great group of smart guys. A reminder that racing is such an awesome and tight community.
Day 3 – Wednesday
Demo Day at Chocolate Thunder trail went WAY better than having “chocolate thunder” on the trail after eating a gas-station chimichanga yesterday.
Optima Batteries and Volta Power were there with a serious, off-grid charging setup that allowed us, and all the other stock and aftermarket EVs present, to stay charged up for the duration of the event. You can’t generate smiles without putting in the miles, and Optima/Volta allowed us to do both by keeping us charged for lots of media rides in the rig. The demo took place at a designated stop for a group of Rivians that were on a long-distance journey. Those things are so surprisingly capable.
Note to self: Ryan Kalb might be Head of Product and System Technology in the Hypercraft office, but he’s Prime Minister of Butt-Puckering Driving out here.
Day 4 – Thursday
If Mad Max and Burning Man had a baby it would be born on Thursday of KOH. Great Scott today was nuts.
We started off tamely by displaying the KOH EV rig at the Dana Spicer Electrified camp. They flexed some articulation and showed it off nicely. But as the sun got low, we knew it was time to get back out and capture some epic shots and footage of the vehicle on the trail with our partners at Dana. That sunset “drive” in the California desert did not disappoint.
Once the sun went down, things really started heating up. We headed out to Backdoor — an off-road trail that is essentially a waterfall of sheer rock lined by ravenous fans — and watched some of the bravest and craziest drivers try to ascend it.
Can’t imagine it? Just remember, Mad Max + Burning Man. It’s pitch black aside from headlights, flashlights, fireworks, and frickin’ laser beams blinding you from every direction. Meanwhile, folks are trying to drive straight up a rock wall.
It’s an American phenomenon that should be witnessed to be believed.
Closed the night out with a front row view of Sublime with Rome live on stage. And it’s true what they say, it sure ain’t no funky reggae party, $5 at the door.
Day 5 – Friday
Photographers are always looking for what’s called “golden hour.” And the annoying thing about that hour is that it only happens at sunset…and then again at sunrise.
After Sublime with Rome the night before, sunrise was a struggle, but the shots and footage we got with the team at Dana made it all worth it. And we really put the rig through its paces. Steep, rough trails. Huge, jagged boulders. Deep, sandy dunes. It was the last day of Hammers, so we didn’t hold back and neither did the rig. It was a beast. So incredibly capable.
To round out the day and the event, we headed back over to Chocolate Thunder to help our friends at Tread Lightly! with their morning cleanup efforts. As hard as you might try, you don’t gather this many people together in a single place without making a little bit of a mess. We’re really proud to be a partner with this awesome group working to leave this place, and OHV recreation areas everywhere, better than we all found it.
After a week of breathing dust, we were ready to get off the lakebed. It was a successful week and the EV spec rig show up well and was well received.
As for what’s next, we will be refining calibrations and working with the ten chosen EV spec teams over the next year. Stay tuned for updates.If you want to hear a different perspective of the Hypercraft EV rig at King of the Hammers, go check out this article from our friend Emme Hall over at InsideEVs.