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KOH Survival Guide: 2020 Edition

 It’s that magical time of year again, when 60,000 people descend on a lake bed in the California desert for one week to witness the greatest spectacle of 4-wheel drive racing in the world. But are you ready for it? This is your guide to the 2020 Nitto King of the Hammers powered by Optima Batteries.

Loren Healy on Means Dry Lake during King of the Hammers

Where is the Hammers?

King of the Hammers is located on Means Dry Lake, in Johnson Valley, California. From Highway 247, turn north onto Boone Rd, a graded dirt road, and follow it as it winds its way to the main entrance gate. Pay the entrance fee ($30 per person, $20 per camper and you're good for the whole week, plus, kids 10 and under get in free), and don’t forget to grab your copy of Driving Line magazine. Once you’re passed the gate, Hammertown is just a straight shot ahead. 

Map of how to get to King of the Hammers

What is in Hammertown?

The fenced off area of the lake bed where all the action happens is known as Hammertown. This temporary city, complete with street signs, a power grid, water services and bathrooms is erected in the weeks leading up to KOH, and serves as a home base for the week of racing. Inside Hammertown, you’ll find the race pits, parts booths, food vendors, the main stage, a jumbotron to watch the race and its where the race cars line up before the epic main event race on Friday morning. Swing by the Nitto Tire booth next to the main stage and grab some swag!

Official map of Hammertown for the 2020 KOH

Where can I go to Watch the Race? 

Other than watching it on the Jumbotron in Hammertown, you can witness all the racing action from several spectator areas across the desert. It’ll be on you to reach these remote spots, but be aware of where you’re driving in relation to the race course at all times. Popular spots to watch the race are Chocolate Thunder, Back Door and Cougar Buttes. Here are a few more links you should read:

  Wayland and Shannon Campbell racing down a rocky hill

What Should I Bring with Me?

We’ve compiled a short list of both essential things you’ll need to bring with you to survive King of the Hammers, as well as a list of optional items you might consider bringing for your time in Johnson Valley. These items are in addition to what you will need to camp in the desert over several days.

Must Haves

  • A good flashlight or headlamp
  • Backup batteries
  • Camera
  • Comfortable shoes/boots that can take a beating
  • Sunglasses
  • Layers of clothing to take off and put on
  • Hat/Beanie
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Hydro-flask or large water bottle
  • Toilet paper
  • Small backpack

 Optional Items to Consider

  • Cooler
  • Bandana
  • Camp chair
  • Moisturizing lotion (it’s very dry and dusty in the desert)
  • Baby wipes
  • Firewood
  • Space heater
  • HotHands hand warmers
  • Cash for good deals at the vendor booths

  Erik Miller racing through a wash during the King of the Hammers

When is the Race?:

In addition to the multiple competitions taking place throughout the week, there will be several other events you may want to attend. We’ve compiled the official schedule of events for the whole week below: 

CanAm UTV King of the Hammers Opening Weekend

Thursday, January 30, 2020

12:00 PM Pre-Running Opens / Course Map Released–Must be Registered


Friday January 31, 2020

Hammertown Opens

Pre Running Full Course

9:00 AM Tech Opens - All new cars need to be teched by close of tech on Monday


Saturday February 1, 2020

Pre Running Full Course

10:00 AM Mandatory Can-Am UTV KOH Drivers Meeting

11:00 AM – 4:00PM Can-Am UTV KOH Qualifying on short course


Sunday February 2, 2020 ~ The Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers, presented by HCR

8:00 AM – Can Am UTV King of the Hammers Presented by HCR Starts

4:00 PM – Can Am UTV King of the Hammers Presented by HCR Ends

Nitto King of the Hammers Week

Monday February 3, 2020 ~ 4WP Qualifying and the Holly EFi Shootout, presented by King Shocks & Action Sports Canapoies

Pre Running Day (short course closed for pre running) & Shootout

8 AM Qualifying Driver Meeting for 4WP EMC

9 AM – 4PM – 4500/4800 Qualifying on short course

12:00 PM Vendor Show opens

4:30 PM Mandatory Drivers meeting for 4400 Qualifying

5:00 PM Mandatory Drivers meeting for Shootout

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM Holley EFi Shootout Presented by King Shocks & Action Sports Canopies

9 PM Can-Am UTV KOH Awards, Shootout Awards, Entertainment (Monster Energy stage in Hammertown)


Tuesday February 4, 2020 ~ 4WP Qualifying and the Pit Crew Challenge, presented by ProEagle, Buggy Whips, and Boxo Tools

Pre Running Day (short course closed)

8:00 AM Start of 4400 Qualifying on short course

12:00 - 6:00 PM  4WP EMC Tech and Contingency  

12:00 - 8:00 PM Vendor Hours in Hammertown

5:00 PM Close of Qualifying

5:30 PM Pit Crew Challenge Sponsored by Pro Eagle, Buggy Whips, and Boxo Tools

7:00 PM Mandatory drivers meeting for all EMC racers


Wednesday February 5, 2020 ~ 4WP Every Man Challenge (includes the Yukon 4500 class, the Branik 4800 class, and the Spidertrax 4600 class)

8:00 AM Start of 4WP Every Man Challenge Race

12:00 - 2:00 PM Toyo Desert Invitational Race Tech and Contingency

12:00 - 8:00 PM Vendor Hours in Hammertown

6:00 PM End of 4WP EMC Race

7:00 PM Mandatory Drivers meeting for Toyo Desert Invitational

8:00 PM Volunteer Meeting

8:00 PM King Shocks Party

8:00 PM EMC Awards, Entertainment (Monster Energy in Hammertown)


Thursday February 6, 2020 ~ 2nd Annual Toyo Desert Invitational, presented by Monster Energy

8:00 AM Prologue Toyo Desert Invitational Presented by Monster Energy

10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Toyo Desert Invitational Presented by Monster Energy

12:00 - 7:00 PM KOH Tech and Contingency in Hammertown

12:00 - 8:00 PM Vendor Hours in Hammertown

5:00 PM T1 Awards (Main stage in Hammertown)

6:00 PM Volunteer Dinner 

7:00 PM Mandatory Drivers meeting for Nitto King of the Hammers Race 

8:00 PM Volunteer Staffing meeting  


Friday February 7, 2020 ~ Nitto King of the Hammers Powered by OPTIMA Batteries

6:00 AM Driver Line Up Nitto King of the Hammers Powered by OPTIMA Batteries Race

8:00 AM Start of the Nitto King of the Hammers Powered by OPTIMA Batteries Race

2:00 – 5:00 Tech and GPS Download Motos

8:00 PM Riders Meeting

10:00 PM Close of the Nitto King of the Hammers Race, powered by OPTIMA Batteries


Saturday February 8, 2020 ~ The Progressive King of the Motos, the GenRight Off Road KOH Experience, the Gambler 500 / HooptieX, Closing Ceremonies

9:30 AM  GenRight Off Road KOH Experience, presented by Visoin X start

8:00 AM Progressive King of the Motos Prologue Start – 1 Lap

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM  Progressive King of the Motos Main Start – 3 Laps

4:30 PM Gambler 500 infield festivities / HooptieX

7:30 PM Monster Energy Closing Ceremonies ~ KOH Awards, KOM Awards (Monster Energy stage in Hammertown) 

**Times subject to change.**

Mel Wade racing in EVO1 through the rocks

How Can I Learn More?

Driving Line is your ultimate source for everything KOH. From race recaps to Hammers history, to behind the scenes exclusive content featuring the top drivers in the sport, you can find everything you need right here on our website. Here are some articles you may want to check out: 

Find out what KOH is all about

2019 Nitto King of the Hammers race recap

Learn the differences between Ultra4 suspension styles

Ultra4 vs Rock Bouncer: Which is better? 

Whether this your first ever King of the Hammers experience, or your tenth year attending, we hope this information gives you what you need to have a great time while staying safe. See you on the lake bed!

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