The 2009 King of the Hammers started with a blast…actually several rollovers, breakdowns, and broken hopes for those less fortunate that didn’t make the cut. The King of the Hammers promoter set up today’s “last chance qualifier” where over 34 contestants competed for the coveted 14 spots to race Friday’s race. That means that almost half of the contestants would get sent home packing.
Unlike Best in the Desert‘s qualifying where an unlimited amount of vehicles compete for a top ten starting position, the entrants today had to put everything on the line to be allowed to race the main event.
The Last chance qualifying course was about 3 miles long and included a smooth desert section to show off the speed of their vehicles and wild whoops for fun, soft dune-like sand, and a rock crawl section with refrigerator sized rocks that required some contestants to use winches to complete. Because of the difficulty and awe inspiring course, only a maximum of 3 rigs were permitted at any time on the course. New qualifiers were only allowed out on the course once the previous rig cleared the rock section in order to prevent bottle necks and provide a fair competition.
We hung out among thousands of excited spectators at the “waterfall” of the back door trail. Awesome scenery and atmosphere to watch the competitors battle it out. It seemed like every other competitor picked a slightly different line over those refrigerator sized rocks with various outcomes. Some looked like huge desert creatures made to combat even the toughest of terrain and some looked like a chihuahua lost in the desert rocks. We witnessed no less then 3 rigs roll over (see our pictures below for a visual) as they attempted to drive over a section we had a very hard time walking through! No physical harm was done in all cases other than shattered dreams of those that had to withdraw because the rules call for a DNF once outside assistance is applied.
Tomorrow at 8am no less then 90 rigs will attempt to dominate the awesome miles long course filled with go-fast desert sections and rock crawling. Last years winner Shannon Campbell is the people’s favorite, however he is entering a completely new and less proven rig with IFS and 4WD. What will become of Shannon Campbell?
Stay tuned for the conclusion of the 2009 King of the Hammers by tomorrow evening.