King of the Hammers 2018 has came and gone, and KOH did not disappoint. Ok, maybe a little bit.
KOH for Thorson’s Racing kicked off on February 1st, leaving home in Santa Rosa, California on a 12 hour drive down to Johnson’s Valley. Thankfully, it was a uneventful and smooth trip to the lake bed.
After unpacking, setting up the RV, moving pits and getting all the registration stuff dealt with, we were ready to hit the desert for some much needed pre-running. That was when things started to go down hill.
#666 had developed a engine issue. After changing some fuel filters and poking around to no avail, we need to get a hold of our friends and Engine Builder / Tuner at RPM Engine and Machine . After a few data logs and email exchanges with Jason from RPM, we concluded that we need to track down a few O2 Sensors, MAF Sensor, and a Wideband O2 to be able to dial the LS9 back into its happy place.
We sent a couple of our crew guys into town on the hunt for parts, while we scoured HammerTown for a Wideband. Striking out with the Wideband, we decided to have Jason send his down with our buddy who was leaving the next day. Parts were sourced and when the wideband got there, it was Monday night the day before we needed to qualify. With huge help from Chip Sterndahl of SEI Racing, we were able to use his Wifi hotspot to allow Jason to remote log into our laptop and data log and remote tune Hells Bells from over 550 Miles away! ( Thank you again Chip! Couldn’t have gotten it sorted out without your help!) After a few hours of tuning, and many cold and dusty test runs, Jason got Hells Bells running like a top and ready for the 4400 Class Qualifying. Thank you again Jason!! Your help was more than appreciated! Sorry for keeping you up past your bedtime haha!
6A.M. Tuesday morning we head out to get a few laps in on the qualifying course before qualifying starts. After 3 laps, we felt comfortable and knew the lines we wanted to take. Qualifying started at noon, and we would be 43rd off the line. We ended up with a decent qualifying time of 2:26:xx that put us in 74th for the big day.
Thursday, all our crew was at HammerTown, and was time to get ready for the big dance on Friday. The crew gave #666 a good once over, found and corrected a few issues. They mounted up a fresh set of 44″ Pitbull Rockers, we were feeling good, this was going to be a great race.
FRIDAY! Race day is here! 209 miles between us and the finish line. Line up at 6 A.M., green flag dropping at 8 A.M. The crew got everything in order, pits packed and ready to rock. The green flagged dropped, and instantly we had issues. The engine bogged, spit and popped. Thankfully, about a mile into the race she cleared up and we were now chasing down cars. The dust was thick, visibility was low. Looking for a way around the two cars in front of us around mile marker 3, we had a front axle shaft failure that put the truck up on its nose and off course right at the bottom of a sand wash. Trying to make it up the wash in 3 wheel drive wasn’t the greatest for this big girl, but we made it over the top and radioed into pits requesting a axle shaft at remote pit. For the next 10 miles, we limped along trying to keep a pace with only 3 wheel drive, luckily there weren’t many rocks to deal with. Around mile 4.5, we got a flat. Drove hard on the dead rim for about 8 more miles until we got to pit.
Our pit crew already had the tire ready to go, tools out and ready for action. Co-Driver hopped out to address the axle shaft, and tire situation. Our awesome crew at remote pit 1 got the tire changed. While waiting for the axle shaft we looked over the truck to find two blown shocks, a Inner C ripping away from the axle tube, another tire going flat and a intake getting close to interfering with the serpentine belt. We felt confident in the ability to fix everything besides the Inner C issue. We had only gone 13 miles so far, and had not gotten into the rough stuff yet. Knowing that if we bubble gummed it back together and had a failure somewhere else on the race course, we would be a major trail blockage. We decided it was best to call our race…. 13 miles in….Our worst hammers finish ever.
That is the name of the game. King of the Hammers is not a guarantee. King of the Hammers is a equal opportunity car destroyer, it does not show mercy to anyone.
Thorson’s Racing would like to thank Randy, James, Josh, Jake, Jason, Brad, Lucas, Dustin, Curtis, Ed, Pete, Beau, Stephanie, Ginger, Big Dills, Ingrid, Dakota, Dustin #2 ( to the few im sure im missing, SORRY!! ) and the Entire SEI Racing Team. Without each and everyone of your guys help, we absolutely wouldn’t be able to do this. Thank you for coming out to the desert year after year. Thank you for being such a awesome group of people and friends. Already counting down the days until KOH 2019.
Lastly, thank you to our partners. While we might not podium, or even finish every race, our partners stand besides us as we stand besides them. It means alot having the support from some of best in the business. Thorson’s Racing is truly humbled to be working with you. We hope for much more success with you in the coming future.
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