Polaris Takes Top Honors at 2012 Pit Bull King of the Hammers

Polaris Takes Top Honors at 2012 Pit Bull King of the Hammers

Feb 10, 2012 – utvundergound.com 

The venerable Polaris XP flexes its muscles for the 2nd time in 2 months and wins the overall Pit Bull King Of The Hammers in Hammer town, Ca. The race was held February 9th and featured a whos who of stock, modified and ultra modified UTVs.

Polaris, fresh off its multiple victory finishes at this years Dakar race was the weapon of choice for competitors. Mitch Guthrie (#555  Glendora, CA) was the eventual winner on this tough race course. 

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39 UTV’s lined up at the start line on Thursday morning to take on what would end up being the largest UTV desert race to ever be held. Means Dry Lake Bed, located in the heard of Johnson Valley, CA’s “Hammers” OHVA would once again play host to the coveted King Of The Hammers race events. UTVUnderground.com, as has been the case the past 3 years was once again on the scene to take in all the excitement and capture the imagery of this awesome event on film (digital). 

There were many story lines leading up to this event, many more would be created once the green flag would drop. In the end it would be 2 time KOH winner Mitch Guthrie taking home the big check, the big trophy, and the big title of 2012 King Of The Hammers UTV OVERALL Winner! Mitch drove the wheels off his Unlimited 4 – 2012 Polaris RZR XP900 battling from the 4th row and commanding a solid lead by the time he would reach RM20. Once Mitch took the lead he never looked back. Guthrie with his son Mitch Jr. would check out on the competition making easy work of gnarly trails such as Elvis and maintaing a really fast pace through the high speed desert sections. Finishing the race on a flat tire, Mitch was able to finish 7 minutes ahead of 2nd place and almost a full half an hour before 3rd place. Last year Guthrie failed to 3 peat at KOH finishing in 2nd place with his then Polaris RZR 800 just behind race winner Brandon Schueler of Jagged X. Mitch knew he would need to step up to a Polaris XP900 if he was going to go for the win again and thats exactly what he did. That decision really paid off!

2nd place overall would go to first time King Of The Hammers UTV racer Todd Stephensen in his 2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000. Not only was it Todd’s first KOH but it would also be the first KOH for Arctic Cat’s new platform. It was one heck of a coming out party for this combination of man and machine. Reason being is Stephensen was competing in the Production 1000 class meaning he started behind all of the Unlimited 4 cars. By the time the racers would hit the big rocks of Elvis Todd and his Wildcat would be running a few minutes behind Guthrie in 2nd place. The brand new team would push hard trying to reel in Guthrie but unfortunately would run out of time. In the end Stephensen would still find himself a winner of the Production 1000 class and title of being the first Arctic Cat Wildcat to finish a King Of The Hammers race.

Another interesting story of this years KOH UTV race would be that of Jon Crowley. Jon “Crowdog” Crowley once again set out to conquer the KOH race. After a run of bad luck last year in his purpose built Kawasaki Teryx, Jon and his co-dog Wally World Wallace would show up days in advance to ensure plenty of time to pre run. With his Teryx showing up to Johnson Valley in tip top shape Crowley was sure that this was his year. Well, unfortunately for Jon his hopes of putting his 999cc Muzzys / Monster Energy Kawasaki Teryx on the podium would once again diminish as he would lost an engine during a test session a couple of days before the race. Not one to give up Jon made the quick decision to run his back up Teryx, which also is a very capable rock crawler with big power. But before Jon could line that Teryx up he would also lose the power plant in that machine during a pre run! BAD LUCK continued to plague Jon and his will to do well in his Kawasaki vehicles. With no where else to turn Jon decided to dig even deeper into his stable of UTV’s preparing his 2011 Polaris RZR XP900 for battle. He and Wally never showed an inch of quit and despite losing 2 UTV’s to engine failure still put another of his UTV’s on the start line to compete in this great off-road race. In the end the team of Crowley and Wallace would roll into “Hammer Town” in 4th place overall and 3rd in the Production 1000 class! The finish gave Crowley something to be happy about and we were pumped to see him get the finish!

Lastly I want to tell the story of Brian Bush. Brian B. has been preparing his Rotax powered Rhino for battle since last years KOH race. With a little luck he drew the #1 start position for this years race putting his powerful UTV on the pole and in a prime position to make a run for the win. Brian settled into a conservative pace not wanting to risk a mechanical failure early on. After playing a little leap frog in the first 35 or so miles Bush would come into the gnarly rock section known as Elvis holding a firm 3rd place position. But as he would begin his decent a lower ball joint on the front of his UTV would give way leading a flat tire and then putting bush wedged literally between a rock and a hard spot. Despite the efforts he and his co-dog Greg Frantz put in, Bush would be forced to throw in the towel and call it a day leaving his Rhino to plug the “easy” route down Elvis. This is where the story gets good. Instead of pulling up a rock and simply becoming a spectator bush would roll up his sleeves and go to work helping every competitor behind him who needed a hand getting down the most difficult trail of the race. He spotted, pulled winch cable, pushed, lifted, moved rocks, laughed and encourage all in the name of sportsmanship. It was awesome to see him become his competitors biggest cheerleader as they were all forced to crate alternative lines to make their way out of this canyon of carnage! It would end up taking a real rock buggy to come into the canyon and pull his Rhino out from within the rocks grasp.

The King Of The Hammers once again proved why its the most unique off-road desert race our sport has ever seen. Competitors from all over this great nation converged on this off-road play ground to throw their prepped and in some cases brand new machines into a race that could be considered a world of hurt. With every bang of the belly pan on the rocks these racers inched their way closer to accomplishing a feat that very few can say they have ever done. We can only hope we get to see a 2013 race as the Hammers is under attack and word is could be shut down as soon as April as the nearby 29 Palms Marine Base looks to expand. We are on the cusp of not only losing another off-road gem in California, but also losing a race that could never be duplicated in another area. It is important that we all do our part to fight for our right to off-road in the hammers and fight for the preservation of this race. So I will wrap up my post race report with this. PLEASE step up and offer financial support to those orgs who are going to battle against the US Govt. to help save this land and save this race.

UTVUnderground.com wants to thank each and every single racer who reps, reads, posts, shares, and supports our site! You are the reason we are at these events so thank you very much for all that you do! We also want to thank Mike Lasher, Jeff Knoll, Reid Nordin, and Tim Orchard of the ISA for working so hard to make the 2012 KOH race such a huge success. Despite some hiccups in getting this Association off the ground I think its hard to not now see that the ISA definitely has a place in this sport. They busted their butts making sure UTV’s were teched fairly and correctly and that in itself is a giant feat! We also need to thank the sponsors of this race Mike Green of Pit Bull Tires put up the big bucks for this race and for that we are very thankful. Its a bummer that Mike once again could not be in attendance to do more but he wanted me to make sure that every knew that he truly loves this sport and really is happy to be able to do his part to keep this race alive! We also want to thank all the guys at SXSPerformance.com for getting this course and race logistics dialed in! Mike and Bill Lasher, Jeff Knoll, and Pete N. of SXSPerformance.com worked really hard and it clearly paid off!

Enjoy the pics! I will post the Official Results ASAP.