Off Road

JP Gomez passes 98 cars to headline 2024 Kings of the Hammers

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Credit: Gomez Brothers Racing

Kyle Chaney was hoping to make his Can-Am Maverick R the first UTV ever to win the King of the Hammers‘ Nitto Race of Kings, and he did everything in his power to turn it into a reality. Despite breaking the left front suspension and driving with three wheels during the closing stretch, he managed to reach the finish before everyone else.

“This is probably the worst car I’ve drove,” said an emotional Chaney at the finish. “It was really bad all day and we just kind of kept it together. I don’t know if we blew our shocks in qualifying but I didn’t drive the car after qualifying and it was like we drove on blown shocks all day and they finally gave out at the end, but Terry (Madden) got me here to the end and here we are.”

Madden, a Baja star on the heels of winning the Baja 1000‘s Pro Stock UTV class in November with the legendary Block family, added “this is actually the last place I thought we’d be today. Our goal was to get it to the podium.”

It was a dream ending to a chaotic race week for Chaney, who flipped his car during qualifying for the Toyo Tires Desert Challenge, then bounced back by winning the Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship for the fourth year in a row. Unfortunately, the dream became a nightmare when he received 52 minutes and 10 seconds of penalties for missing a virtual checkpoint then taking a bypass while navigating through the Check Me Out sector.

“I was too focused on the 4900 race (UTV) that I did not do my homework on the 4400 (Race of Kings),” Chaney subsequently remarked. He officially finished eighth overall as a result.

However, the win was still just out of reach even if he was not penalised as JP Gomez arrived at the finish after him with a faster time by 9:55. The victory was the third in a row for the Gomez family after his brother Raul Gomez claimed the 2022 and 2023 editions.

Gomez started at the back in 99th, forcing him to work his way through the field for all three laps. At the front, Raul held the advantage for much of the day before rolling; Casey Currie capitalised on this to take the lead, only for his driveshaft to break. His exit cycled Chaney to the lead with Loren Healy in tow, and the latter took the lead with two miles remaining before the transmission failed.

As the leaders fell, Gomez simply needed to chase down Chaney and set the faster overall time, which he successfully pulled off in his UFO Fabrication-built buggy.

After an emphatic “Hell yeah!”, Gomez commented that it was “embarrassing to change a tyre on TV in front of the helicopter by myself. I couldn’t leave it out there then I would have gotten called out, put that goddamn thing back on, holy shit! (Brett) Harrell back here, he winched me and then I burned out on him and I flipped his car over on accident, so I guess it all worked out.

“My heart sank, Raul was flipped over on Big Johnson. Loren passed me like a bat out of hell and I was like, ‘Man, I must be driving really slow.’ Oh man, that was a race.

“I got down to Outer Limits and there was Erik Miller, Jason Scherer, Cade Rodd, Marcos (Gomez, JP and Raul’s brother) and Raul got through and some other guys. After I got through there, thank you Jason for spotting me and letting me run over his car, that was it. Me and Harrell battled here at the end, and it was pretty open.”

While coming up short in the Race of Kings, at least Chaney still left Hammertown with a trophy thanks to his dominant run in the UTV race. Chaney led from start to finish as those behind him scuffled for position, eventually beating Dakar Rally Challenger runner-up Mitch Guthrie by six minutes. Chaney’s Can-Am team-mate Phil Blurton held on for third after a dramatic battle with CJ Greaves and reigning SCORE International Pro UTV Open champion Brock Heger that was highlighted (or lowlighted?) by the trio getting stuck together in Chocolate Thunder.

Robby Gordon placed seventeenth in the UTV Championship while son Max Gordon was twenty spots back, a two-for-two family finish after both of their SPEED UTVs retired from their KOH d├ębut in 2023. Madden, defending Baja 1000 champion Bryce Menzies, Greaves’ father Johnny Greaves, motocross and rallycross star Brian Deegan, and even Gomez were among the race’s retirements.

After hosting the season opener during the fortnight-long event in 2023, Great American Shortcourse did not return to KOH for 2024.

Overall winners

EventDateNumberWinnerClassTotal Time
Liqui Moly King of the Motos20/21 January2Cody WebbPro3:25:34
Toyo Tires Desert Challenge27 January94Christopher PolvoordeT13:16:58
Baja Vida Class 11 Showdown27 January1157Blake WilkeyClass 1158:50
Kids 17030 January114Brixton WirtLimited32:08
Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship1 February191Kyle ChaneyPro Mod UTV3:57:28
Every Man Challenge2 February4848Randy Slawson4800 Legends Class4:46:41
Nitto Race of Kings3 February82JP Gomez4400 Unlimited6:27:44

Class winners

King of the Motos

ClassOverall FinishNumberWinnerTotal TimeLapsMargin
A18131Riley Bender5:35:3012+ 2:09:56
A 40+1975Rodrigo Lopes5:29:1511+ 1 Lap
A 50+39717Alden Anderson5:20:587+ 5 Laps
A Vet26224Brandon Wakefield5:11:589+ 3 Laps
B361515Boogie Rivera5:46:068+ 4 Laps
B 40+671969Kellen Kjera4:37:134+ 8 Laps
C741164Chase Fino4:29:334+ 8 Laps
Pro12Cody Webb3:25:3412Leader
Pro Women68177Louise Forsley4:08:334+ 8 Laps
Sportsman 4-Stroke29269Anson Maloney5:31:329+ 3 Laps
Women1032222Carly Paet3:30:262+ 10 Laps
Youth822200Nolan Albrecht5:09:564+ 8 Laps

Kids 170 Limited

ClassOverall FinishNumberWinnerTotal TimeLapsMargin
Limited1114Brixton Wirt32:0826Leader
Stock7339Claire Dixon33:1324+ 2 Laps

Toyo Tires Desert Challenge

ClassOverall FinishNumberWinnerTotal TimeMargin
Buggy25153Adam Lunn3:41:28+ 24:30
T1194Christopher Polvoorde3:16:58Leader
T24272Dustin Grabowski3:29:22+ 12:24
ClassOverall FinishNumberWinnerTotal TimeMargin
Desert Stock434689Kendall Glines6:08:36+ 2:33:13
Desert Vintage Buggy321673Michael Ward5:11:26+ 1:36:03
UTV Open11896Brock Heger3:35:23Leader
UTV Pro Modified5898Joe Terrana3:47:29+ 12:06
UTV Pro Stock92910Rodrigo Ampudia3:56:55+ 21:32

Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship

ClassOverall FinishNumberWinnerTotal TimeMargin
Open251Mitch Guthrie4:03:22+ 5:54
Pro Modified1191Kyle Chaney3:57:28Leader
Pro Stock Normally AspiratedDNFN/ANo FinishersDNFN/A
Pro Stock Turbo41896Brock Heger4:06:46+ 9:18
Sportsman Stock6777Zach Szymik4:27:33+ 30:05

Every Man Challenge

ClassOverall FinishNumberWinnerTotal TimeMargin
4500 Modified1326Duane Garretson6:22:07+ 1:35:26
4600 Stock184654Bailey Cole6:40:42+ 1:54:01
4800 Legends14848Randy Slawson4:46:41Leader
Ultra4 EVDNFN/ANo FinishersDNFN/A

Nitto Race of Kings top ten

FinishNumberDriverTotal TimeMargin
182JP Gomez6:27:44Leader
24456Brett Harrell6:52:01+ 24:17
34468John Webb7:05:11+ 37:27
48Daniel Fresh7:20:44+ 53:00
521Erik Miller7:23:56+ 56:12
625Vaughn Gittin Jr.7:27:16+ 59:32
7906Tad Dowker7:27:59+ 1:00:15
8191Kyle Chaney7:29:50+ 1:02:06
911Kevin Stearns7:32:16+ 1:04:32
107Cade Rodd7:37:01+ 1:09:17
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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