Colorado Springs, CO 2/13/12- King of the Hammers did not disappoint this year and was bigger and better than ever. The event continues to add races, spectators, and a flurry of activity in what was truly a small city. It’s easy to get distracted in this environment and our team worked hard to prepare for what was unquestionably the biggest rock race of our 2012 season.
Roger and I qualified Tuesday afternoon on a blown out course. The first set of boulders had been thoroughly cleaned out by dozens of previous racers leaving gaping holes ready to swallow up the tires. We played it cool but it took us several attempts and a lot of throttle to overcome the climb. Once free we quickly worked through sand hills, loose rocks, ruts, and a hair-raising section of whoops. While a fair performance, our results were disapointing and we would start the race 31st out of over 130 racers.
One of the most enjoyable parts of King of the Hammers is pre-running. It felt great to get out of Hammertown and spend time in the desert. The #232 AMSOIL Torchmate rock racer was running perfect and the 39″ BFG’s made running fast in the rocks enjoyable. We marked hazards, scoped out lines, found the limits of the truck, and just had fun.
The dust on race day was incredible. Not a mile from the start, a loose rock cut a brake line and we were without brakes. Eight miles in we stopped to make a quick repair but the damage was done. We faced 35 miles of horrific dust with no stopping power before our first chance to pit. We went through as much mayhem in that section as I have ever seen and we will always remember the ride as paticularly unnerving. We reached pit #1 in 29th position but broken communication left us with support yet to arrive. The Campbell pit was gracious enough to help us out before our crew arrived with parts. Once again at full strength we re-entered the dust column and continued to pick off vehicles.
Roger did a great job navigating and I felt much more in control with a brake pedal. We were having a great time and making up a lot of ground. I will never forget popping over a sand rise to see the crowds and pile-up at Chocolate Thunder. Thousands of spectators lined the trail clogged with broken racers. It was a complete mess that took force and some patience to get through. Our BFG’s made the other guys look a bit foolish in the rocks and we left the logjam for the isolated challenges of Wrecking Ball. The rest of the lap went smoothly and we pulled into the 4 Wheel Parts pit for some fuel. At the end of lap #1 we had climbed to 11th.
Thankfully, the 2nd lap lacked the dust and traffic of the first. We ran fast and clean until I noticed the engine temperature touching 250 degrees. We were forced to stop and diagnose the problem which was a short in a cooling fan circuit. We stopped multiple time to make repairs but now both fan circuits were mysteriously failing. I pushed the engine for a long time with the temperature gauge reading off the scale. I wasn’t patient enough to let it cool and have no doubt AMSOIL saved our engine and our race. Finally we got to faster cooler air and made a final pass at the finish line to arrive 5th physically and 6th officially (after adjusted time).
Roger and I owe a tremendous thanks to our crew who helped us out this year: Shannon Boothe, Ron Stobaugh, Austin Stobaugh, Rich Minga, Mike Kasch, Dave Ward, Eric Filar, Jeff Belknap, Rob Kirby, Larry Kirby, Dan Huseman, Ralf Kueller, Rennie Leslie, Jud Leslie, and finally our families. Thank you for your your time, interest, and commitment!
About Lovell Racing:
25 years ago, Brad Lovell was bouncing around in the back seat of his father’s Bronco in the backwoods of Colorado. The family camping trips turned into a passion for Brad and his brother Roger. After spending a decade tackling the toughest off-road trails in the country the pair entered their first rockcrawl and went on to win 6 consecutive season championships. Since then the brothers have earned multiple wins while racing nearly every type of off-road discipline – desert, rocks, hill climbs, and short course racing. The team’s focus is winning the TORC Series where Brad pilots the #44 AMSOIL Torchmate Nissan Frontier. The 2012 season holds a variety of races for the team including King of the Hammers, the legendary Mint 400, the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and World Championship racing at Crandon. Follow Brad at Facebook / Lovell Racing.
Lovell Racing Team Partners:
AMSOIL, NISSAN, BFGoodrich Tires, Torchmate CNC Cutting Systems, Lincoln Welders, Spidertrax Off-Road, Tailready Wheels, Aeroquip Performance Products, Fox Racing Shox, FK Rod Ends, Motive Gear, Eibach Springs, Robinson Construction, Powertank, Howe Performance Power Steering, 4 Wheel Parts, Dynotech Driveshafts, and Proformance Unlimited