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My King of The Hammers EMC Race re-cap.


NAXJA Forum User
RWK’s- King of The Hammers - Every Mans Challenge - #4692 Re-Cap…
Thursday, my team and I arrived at Hammertown. We unloaded and setup camp and Cory jumped in and I took the Yukon, Rock Krawler XJ out for some last minute testing in whoops and a few small rocks. We were going around to the desert behind Resolution, while coming over a break over and not seeing well over the other side; we slowed to about 5 MPH. Just over it and seeing it’s a straight down, I blipped the throttle to get the jeep to start to move down the other side. At that point, our whole “King of the Hammers” experience took a turn. The drivers front tire hit clean center on what we found to be a bolder about 12” tall and planted very deep in to the soil. The jeep jumped up in the rear and planted over a bit and we heard a tire leak. We got out to find a tire quickly losing air but fortunately no real wheel damage, not even a scratch. Next: the game changer! The driver’s side axle tube was loose off the Currie Rockjock 60. After looking further, the whole center housing cracked and the tube welds were all broken. The rockjock was destroyed and there only tool bags we had, were back in camp. Cory spotted to make sure the jeep would drive on the flat land with the tube pushed back about 2-3”, without damaging the Jeep any further. It was drivable. As I proceeded slowly, Cory shouted “Just go! I will walk!” I drove about 10-15mph for about a mile. Then a neighbor that is racing a Mod class, Mike, just happened to be driving out that way and stopped. Mike has been generous and neighborly enough that he has helped with some needs for my build and again, he was there to help. Mike and I get the spare tire on and I drive it back to camp. The team and I put it back on the trailer and begin our 3-4 hour ride back to Yorba Linda. Along with Cory & Ted, I get the axle out and stripped – this is a bit of challenge since the Krawler joints have been bent inside as well as the control arm bolts through them. They had to be cut apart to get the links off.

Friday morning, Currie Enterprises did what they do best. At 7 a.m. they took my RockJock that they rebuilt a few months past, and built a new one, with my Reed inner Kingpin knuckles that were on the now destroyed one. The shop had been given instruction that they are to do everything they could for the King of The Hammer teams. And to not go home till those needs were met. What a great company! (Kudos to Currie!) They built my new Rockjock with the USA Made center, 3/8” chromoly tube, and we were happy to be back in the garage doing install at 4:00 p.m.
A late night fab, and wrenching, with Cory, Ted and now Charles, to get the remaining custom brackets made and welded on and the axle in the Jeep by Friday night, was a tall order. We had to get the garage rewired for 220V, and Charles brought over the welder and plasma. We got done about 11p.m. and slept till 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning and it was back on the road to get on the Lakebed by 7 a.m.
Arrived as scheduled, Scott Hartman was relieved to see I didn’t kill our chances and that we were in back in business again. Scott had said this was the fasted XJ he has ever driven. Faster than any others he has driven in Jeepspeed and faster and better than a few he has driven that have even won Jeepspeed events. Overall, Scott was very impressed with the XJ and expressed an interest in racing it again.
Saturday morning – Tech Inspection. It went well. They altered a rule and made the tail lights required to be on when the ignition was one. While I am fairly certain that was not in the rules to start, Charles, being my life savior on this build with all things electrical, quickly re-wired the tails to the amber. The Dust Junkies and myself, Cory, & Charles, all began prepping the car for the race. Lots of small stuff, radio tuning, winch remote mountings, zip ties for everything, etc…
Sunday morning was awesome! An incredible experience for everyone. We got the car to the starting line-up and waited for placement. Families were there for everyone, my 4-year old son was there so excited about his Dad being a race car driver, all waiting to see us off with the green flag.
We lined up 2nd row, next to the infamous Robby Bobby, and I have got to tell you… he was a good guy, no matter what you read on Pirate J. We pulled-up and got a word from a crew member, that the “jumps” were not to go fast over as they are too steep. Robby made our turn in to the starting line hard with his line in, and I heard Scott say, don’t worry that will be the last time we see him.
3-2-1 flag dropped and Scott hit the throttle. I don’t know if Robby was slow, but I do know we got it, from that point forward.
We had some issues in testing that we could not pin-point. The car would stall on a hard braking. Scott had a idea to just run 4-high the whole time and maybe the rear driveshaft can’t stop then (without the front also) and maybe that would help. We hoped. But it did not. We were stalling out about every ¾ mile on the average. And with a high compression motor and pumper going, fans going, 110W radio going, comm., etc. It was not an easy start each time. We got passed by others a few times while trying to restart, but always passed them back in the next ½ mile or so.
The first few miles of desert were easy going with nice, calm, smooth but fast driving. Just before we got the rolling hills about MM6 I would guess, the V-8 ZJ on links (stock class 2nd place finisher) passed us as we were restarting the engine. From that point on we could not get around him as the path was too narrow and dusty. So at a few points in the race, Scott just turned the horn on (On/Off switch) and left it on. He would not move out of our way. Scott wanted to bump, and I even thought he was going to at one point, but he chose not too.
Coming down out of the hills about MM9 we both saw the flat dry lake bed coming up and Scott states, “we will pass him here.” I looked over and all gauges were perfect (185 temp, 140 trans, 12-14A/F, 55-60oil psi). Just for good measure I flip on both the radiator and transmission fans as we come up to the bed, and off we go blazing in all of our glory.
He had us about 6 car lengths and we were even speed all thru 1st. 2nd was about even with catching him slowly till top of 2nd, and we were gaining. Our motor was built for up to 6500 I was told, but our stock ECU had about a 5500 limiter. So in 3rd we started to catch him quickly and we were going for the pass within seconds. Scott asked “are we good for 4th ”? The car was on 17psi 35” tires and traveling at 82 MPH at 4k. I read all the gauges and everything still perfect and responded to Scott with “hell yeah, lets pass him!” He hit 4th and shortly there after, the cab started filling with smoke. A look at the gauges again and all was good, but we were losing power fast and we had to cut it off and roll to a stop. At MM14 we were done.
Looks as though the engine either lost a rod bearing or two, and or a piston let go. It was puking oil out all holes where it could blow out something in the hole. PCV, Dist, Oil Fill cap, etc.
We stopped efforts and called in for recovery.
While waiting, we did see both other Cherokees go buy some time later. That was good to see as we knew both had starting line issues. We looked over and also saw a mod car broken about 1/8 mile just to the side of us. He had twisted and lost a driveshaft that proceeded to take out all kinds of things under their jeep. Then about 15 minutes later a JK comes up rolling slow! He had broken off a Teraflex inner C on his Teraflex CDR60 front axle. The knuckle was just held on with 2 ratchet straps to the track bar bracket and such.
Overall it was a great time! I would have loved to have raced it further and finished or won. But this was a once in a lifetime event for me. If it wasn’t for such great and supportive companies and team members supporting our passion and pass time, we would have never had made it to this event.
We have to thank the following: (I also have to say, after seeing how abusive this type of terrain is at these speeds and during testing what parts go thru, if you ever need something that these people sell, I can assure you that they can take care of your needs and you will be happy with the quality of the product, and the support after the sell, if ever needed.)
Yukon Gear & Axle – My passenger side axle and Grizzly locker held the broken tube and tire in/on for a few miles of driving and we raced with the same items after seeing they were not damaged by the side forces on them. Never did I have a concern about their gears, axles, spool, Grizzly locker, hubs, drive flanges, etc.
Rock Krawler – Their 3 link front with all aluminum arms and Krawler joints held up beyond what they would Ever see in a typical or abused even, trail rig. When we hit that bolder and broke the center casting on the Rockjock, the aluminum arms did not falter at all. The single upper was not a factor at all. The 2 only, uni-body brackets, did not budge. The system worked Great! The RRD shocks were awesome! We didn’t even have to revalve the fronts, Jeremy at Rock Krawler set them up as he thought they would work, for us, and he got it right. Great company and products!
Currie Enterprises – Cant say enough here. I had them retube a 4 yr old Rockjock that I had used in my buggy on 40” tires, to refresh the housing. They used their stock Jeep XJ/TJ bracket kit (all but upper mounts and track bar) and welded it all together. When we hit that boulder, the jeep stopped dead. The housing cracked we felt, because of the multiple tube install and cut outs this center has seen. The bracket for that side gets welded to that area also, and that bracket has been cut off and re-welded on there a few times also. So with all that heat and past abuse, it just wasn’t up to the abuse we fed it. But they made it all good. To have them drop all other orders, to get me a new RockJock so we could race, in 8 hrs time. Well that’s way over and above. Not to mention they won the Stock Class and took 1st overall, in front of even the Mod class rigs. This is a great company with great products!
Goodyear – I don’t think much need to be said here. They are the best tires out there. The Kevlar MT/R is by far, I feel, the best trail tire money can buy. Ask Shannon Campbell.
Raceline Wheels – What a great company with great people. They are overly active in our sport. Their wheel looked brand new still, after taking a direct hit to the tire, and busting a axle. They are strong and look great! What more do you need.
Superwinch – The Rock 98 winch we had was small, powerful, and fast! We didn’t ever need it during the race, but on and off the trailer while building and transporting the jeep, it was nice to have the speed and power. Great company with great products. Not to mention, they have great people working there that care.
Daystar – I don’t know how the car would have done without their front bumps. Their stinger bumps were perfect. Not once, did we feel the front suspension bottom out. We ran one spacer on the bottom side to reduce the travel (rules of the race) and one black (hard) and one blue (soft) insert on the top. That was perfect for us. They allowed us to push the front suspension to its limits, even on hard G-outs, never feeling the bottom hit.
Hotwire Auto - These guys saved us so much work. They do harness conversions and adaptors, for engine and related electrical needs. They took our stock harness and made it a standalone style 3 wire system with the stock computer. Plug and Play. They also did Savvy/Curries overall winning LJ harness.
RADesigns – Their shifters gave us 100% control over the AW-4 transmission, something very troublesome. We did not have to fight to keep it in 1st or worry about what gear was what.
hi-tech Collision and Glass centers – They took my green beater and turned it in to a great looking silver bullet. Fast and quality work. They do everything from insurance work, to custom paint and body. They are used by some great companies also, Off Road Evolution, Don-A-Vee, etc..
Corbeau – Their seats were perfect for my large 6’5” frame and 285 lbs body. I remember thinking about the 10th mile, wow this really is not as bad as everyone says it is. I have to think a lot of it was due to the seating. I was securely planted in their seat, with their harness holding me tightly where I needed to be. Great company that is supporting our great sport, you have to respect that.
Barnett Performance – Their support of our engine block brackets and front bump stop mounts was awesome. They took the time to sit down and talk with me about our needs and how to make our car faster. That’s great customer support.
Ruffstuff – I cants say enough good things about their products or support to our team. Everything from brackets to tabs, to full steering kit and track bar kits. We used it all. They had just want we needed and by a company that supports off road racing. If you need a raw metal link mount, tab, hiem, etc. They are my choice for highest quality and service.
OC Breeze Air Conditioning – Greg the owner is a great guy. He wanted to help however he could. Sponsoring us was much needed and he gave willingly. I have to say that this also transfer over to his company ethics. If you need any heating or air conditioning work or service, please call OC Breeze.
BajaHID – For HID conversions or parts for HID kits, this guy knows his stuff. Low cost, quality lifetime warranty products.
Callahan & Blaine – If you ever thought you needed a business litigation firm to represent you or your company, then this is “California’s Premiere Litigation Firm” They have settled and won record breaking cases in Orange County, California and the United States.
And last but by no means last..
Black Magic Brakes - These guys know brakes. Their special formulated pad compound, mixed with experienced caliper and master cylinder sizing etc, all lead to a great brake setup that handled our speed, power, dust, etc…
RWK Haus Supply – The lowest cost with best service, drivetrain supplier out there. If you need gears, lockers, alxes, posi unit, etc. This is the place to contact.
Then comes the people that made this possible.
My Loving and beautiful wife, Laurali, this was a very challenging time, with most all minutes of my time spent building a race Jeep over the last 5 months, yet she’s still here. My 4 year-old son, Wyatt. He really showed me how much this will mean in the future. Months before the event, he would say, “King of The Hammers…” this or that. We would watch a show with an off road race and say, “We’re going to king of the hammers, right daddy?” That alone gave me energy to continue. Our closest family friend Debi, her support in so many ways, was in-valuable. Friends that turned in to basically my race team, Cory and Charles. Cory drove on his own dime a good distance just to come help. If I needed him, he came over. Charles, without this guy the car might not ever have made it. His wiring and willingness to help is something you can never forget.
Then to the new friends and family’s I recently met. A little history first. When I first approached a buddy about racing in this event, the stock class, I was told, you have a great chance to win this. Followed up by a, as long as the Dust Junkies are not racing, and Hartman isn’t in it. Well at that time, I had no idea what he meant. I do remember seeing the Dust Junkies out at KOH the year past, and the orange colors. But not what it actually meant.
I needed help finishing the car: family, work, finances all were going downhill fast with trying to build this car by myself. I had to find help. I started calling past friends and asking about a driver that could also help finish the car. In a roundabout way I got directed to Scott Hartman. We texted a bit and he was very interested. He came to see the car and decided he was in for it. He had me bring the jeep in a semi-finished condition to a guys house named Clem. I learned over the last few months why I was told what I was about them Dust Junkies and Scott Hartman.
Scott is a great guy, and made this very possible. His outlook and funny, direct personality, mixed with Clems willingness to help and give without question, all made this possible in the end. Their team the Dust Junkies was proficient in all ways. And Scott Parker, Dan Turner, LJ and a few others that helped, thank you! I didn’t forget your help, only some of your names.
If you ever get the chance to interact with Scott, Clem, their families and the Dust Junkies, you are fortunate. They are a great bunch! I think I made friends for life, or so I hope.
You might just see this XJ again in a race, but not for a while.
Oh and to the neighbor that calls the cops and code enforcement because I been working on my Jeep in MY garage over the last 6 or so months, F’ you!

good read, still sucks to hear about the motor though. been in a couple east coast races where we were ready to make a pass on a much "faster" rig and have something blow. its a real bummer. hopefully you can get the car out again sooner than you think, it would be a waste to let her sit!
Sorry you guys had engine issues. I donated the engine mounts for this effort to support a local team. I hope you will be able to pull together another effort for next year.
I can assure you the rules always said that the taillights needed to be on with ignition power, but it may have been embedded in another rule somewhere - a TON of teams didn't seem to catch it.

I didn't see you guys running myself, but I hear you were freaking fast. Too bad you aren't planning to race again, I was looking forward to seeing just how fast you are... ;)

Congrats on putting on a good show. Your ride looks really nice.
Well said, had a great time with a great bunch of guys and gals. I'd do it again in a heart beat!

Sorry you guys had engine issues. I donated the engine mounts for this effort to support a local team. I hope you will be able to pull together another effort for next year.

Ugg I did forget you John.

I reread the darn thing like a dozen times and looked at pictures etc. all trying to do my best to get everyone.

John did donate a set of engine mounts!

Thank you John...
For me - that would be the best part of all that experience..

That and him now saying, "Why not our jeep going out there tomorrow?", "Cause it blewd up?"

:) even though the engine did Blewd Up. Its all worth it for what I know he will remember and what he got to experience also...
That and him now saying, "Why not our jeep going out there tomorrow?", "Cause it blewd up?"

:) even though the engine did Blewd Up. Its all worth it for what I know he will remember and what he got to experience also...

Kids are awesome. I had my son out at Cougar Buttes and needed a tug to get up one rock face. After that he kept saying, "Daddy no get stuck." Then later when a guy flopped he kept saying, "Guy fall down."

Congrats on a great effort, just getting the Jeep ready and to the start line is impressive. Hope to see it again at another event.
What about all the work Jeff put into the project early on?
No love for the desert guy?

Well I could go way back in the story, if you like.

He did get me a bare shell and He did remove the axles and motor. We then started on the cage work, with me coming out every weekend to bend all the tube and notch it and such, and he would help as he could, typically a few hours out of each weekend. He did weld on the front unibody stiffners. And he did let me use his garage for a few months. And his welder and plasma. As for work there was about 20-25% of the jeep done out in the desert.

Without his initial disire and help, this wouldnt have happened, I dont think.

I could also, go on and on, about how many nights and days I worked on this alone (about 65-75% of the work) and how my wife and son also Almost were lost in the build. And how banks will have a wanted sign up with my picture soon, etc. But thats just drama that isnt needed.
That and him now saying, "Why not our jeep going out there tomorrow?", "Cause it blewd up?"

:) even though the engine did Blewd Up. Its all worth it for what I know he will remember and what he got to experience also...


..... Great, Now I have a 4 year old added to the list of people that hate me.

"and off we go blazing in all of our glory."

Great stuff there, and fun to read. It's always interesting to see what holds together in conditions like that. Glad your family held together too...!

What a great experience this must of been for you!! The passion you showed behinig getting this rig done was truly awesome. I am lucky and honored to have been a small part of it (wish I could have helped more... but a baby on the way kept me from that!!)

What a great experience this must of been for you!! The passion you showed behinig getting this rig done was truly awesome. I am lucky and honored to have been a small part of it (wish I could have helped more... but a baby on the way kept me from that!!)

Honestly, the rig and race was awesome, but meeting Scott hartman and clem and having them as friends out of all this is just as awesome! As was growing friendships with cory and Charles. Its not just the journey but those that you meet and bond with during it.
Sorry to hear about the race results Robert. At least you enjoyed yourself.