10 Ways You Know You're at KOH
If you somehow find yourself in the middle of the California desert in February, surrounded by a massive off-road race, chances are you're at King of the Hammers, or what's more commonly referred to as KOH. What's KOH you might ask? It's only the biggest off-road extravaganza (think Burning Man meets off-road racing) that takes place in the middle of Johnson Valley, CA. Still not quite sure? Here are 10 sure-fire signs you know you're at one of the greatest off-road races in the world.
1. Dust, Dirt, Call It What You Want (There's Lots of It)
If you're not covered by the double Ds (that's dust and dirt) within the first five minutes, then you didn't do King of the Hammers properly. For the past 10 years, KOH has covered many an off-road enthusiast from head to toe in the stuff. Showers are optional, baby wipes highly encouraged.
The free Driving Line/Nitto bandanas were great this year to help keep you from breathing in too much dust.
You need to watch your step if you're going to watch the action live. There are lots of spots to view the 175-mile race from and most of them require a vehicle to get to, followed by a hike of some sort. Climbing up rocks and finding a good/high position is normal for onlookers at locations like Back Door.
3. RVs and Camping
KOH is a week-long event and there aren’t any hotels nearby. Get your camping gear ready and find that RV spot early because 30,000 people are going to be fighting you for those prime spots.
Any good camping trip should come with a bonfire and nothing beats the community bonfire each night in Hammertown. When the day’s events end, that's your time to make new friends. I’ve experienced firsthand how nice everyone is here, welcoming newcomers with open arms and a beer in hand (more on that later).
5. It's a Family Affair
The family's all here! It's truly an all-ages event, fun for the whole family.
Family bonding time also goes far beyond spectating. Take Campbell Enterprises, for example: Dad, Shannon, daughter, Bailey and son, Weyland all went heads up against each other during the main race. While they're all competing for the best finish, it didn't stop Shannon from helping his kids where they needed it most on the course.
6. Man's Best Friend
You can't go to KOH and leave your canine friends at home. We saw dogs everywhere: leashed, carried, doing their "business"...a week in the dust is "ruffing" it for them.
Beer: it’s the (un)official beverage of KOH, as long as you're of drinking age. No matter how much we saw people drinking, we never saw any problems. It's just a way for everyone to loosen up and celebrate. So enjoy a cold one, no one’s going to judge you here.
The only time you’re not drinking a beer is when you’re taking a shot of Fireball.
8. The Jumbotron
These are the best seats in the house: plant yourself in front of the Jumbotron (with a beer or a few) by the main stage so you can see everything happen with live commentary play-by-play. This place builds a crowd quickly so get there early even though there is no bad seat.
9. Crazy Off-Road Builds
Jeeps, 1930s Rat Rods, War Machines: there are no limits to what off-road vehicles might show up to Hammertown. Check out some of our Parking Lot Finds from the 2016 King of the Hammers.
10. Ultra4 Rigs
The main event will easily be the moment you’ve been waiting to see! Nothing screams KOH like hearing the roar of the Ultra4 rigs bursting from of the starting line and challenging this tough course. There’s action at every corner, from passing racers to roll-overs, these vehicles are what get the crowds cheering!
(Photos by: Justin Pagtalunan, Tim Sutton and Jonathan Wong)