JOHNSON VALLEY, CA, AUGUST 10, 2009: Best In The Desert (BITD) is including a new class of cars for the first time ever at their 1000-mile Vegas to Reno three-day race August 20-22, 2009. Classified as Ultra4, the new King of the Hammers-style rock crawlers will be laying down all their cards. With a switch at the table, Hammerking Productions Dave Cole and Jeff Knoll will be drivers of record under the “UNITE” banner which will field a three-car team, also including Australian Ben Napier who hopes to qualify for the 2010 Griffin King of the Hammers. The UNITE team, originally formed by Brian Kirby and Bobby Ouellette in 2005 after racing the Baja 500, is composed of a virtual who’s who in rock-sports circles for the epic BITD Vegas to Reno race and is sure to produce a winning hand.
Vegas to Reno the long way, the brainchild of BITD’s Casey Folks, is the longest off-road point-to-point race in the United States, and this year he made it tougher. Not wanting to miss a once in a lifetime adventure, Hammerking Productions approached Folks about the addition of King of the Hammers-style Rock crawlers, now branded Ultra4 cars. “Our type of racing is all about the harsh environment and brutal terrain, and we felt this would continue that test of man and machine,” said Hammerking Productions Dave Cole. Cole will pilot a Brian Kirby purpose-built, cross breed of desert car that is also capable of climbing vertical walls and accelerating through the deep silt-beds found in the Nevada desert. “This is my dream car!” exclaimed Cole.
To sweeten the deal and attract a class of racers, Hammerking Productions attached the event to its widely popular Griffin King of the Hammers series of regional qualifiers. “Our approach this year has been to force our teams out of their comfort zone and introduce them to multiple forms of off-road genres,” says Knoll. He then went on to say that “the partnership between Hammerking and Best In The Desert has been working out great so far with more than a dozen Ultra4 teams signing up for this epic adventure.”
The UNITE team partners drivers who regularly participate in multiple motor sports and fabricators from six states and three countries who could be considered royalty in their own racing category. Drivers have experience ranging from the X Games, SCORE/BITD Desert Racing, Gumball 3000 Rally, Drag Racing, and Professional Rock-Sport Racing. Personalities include Adam Woodlee, Wyatt Pemberton, Dan Barcroft, Brian Kirby, Ken Mercer, RJ Brown, Matt Sisson, Dave Camp, Wayne Israelsen, Randy Slawson, Ben Napier, JR VanOrtwick, Dave Schneider, Chris Ridgway, and Chris Pook, who will join forces with Dave Cole and Jeff Knoll of Hammerking Productions and will be lead by the efforts of crew chief JC Andrews the Mojave Desert Racing 2008 overall points champion. “JC is the type of driver who puts together solid, consistent wins. We will all learn from him out in the Nevada desert,” said 2007 SCORE Baja 1000 winner Dave Schnieder and owner of the 4471 car piloted by Jeff Knoll for this event. “Half the fun is just going to be working with these guys!” added Knoll.
Signing on to support the effort of the UNITE team has been a number of the leaders in the off-road motor sports arena, including Griffin Thermal Products, BFGoodrich Tires, Raceline Wheels, Vision X Lights, and Ready Welder. Greg Mulkey, race director for Raceline Wheel, expressed his company’s position: “Raceline Wheels is proud to be associated with Hammerking Productions and we hope to carry over our success in rock-sports to this exciting new class of desert racing. We believe our wheels are perfectly suited for the demands of this type of endurance racing.” Mulkey will join the UNITE team for Vegas to Reno and utilize the opportunity to see first-hand testing of their line of racing wheels. Darick Schmitt, distributor for VisionX lighting systems, added, “We see King of the Hammers as the fastest-growing off-road racing series in North America. The commitment by Jeff Knoll and Dave Cole to create a race and build a series that combines so many different off-road disciplines has created a following by top racers which, in turn, brings fan support never seen before in this type of [rock-sports] racing.”
To learn more about the UNITE off-road racing team, get race week live updates and coverage, and King of the Hammers, please visit: www.KingOfTheHammers.com
Hammerking Productions, Inc. created the “King of the Hammers” off-road race in 2007 (www.kingofthehammers.com) and released its first full-length film in 2008. The 2009 running of the King of the Hammers was featured on Spike TV and in the film “Second Crusade.” In 2009, Hammerking expanded race action to include three additional regional qualifiers for the 2010 race. Over 15,000 drivers and fans from around the globe will descend on the desert of Johnson Valley for over a week of off-road related activities in 2010.