2019 KING OF THE HAMMERS RACE REPORT
February 11, 2018 (Danville, CA) – Thirteen years in the making, the 2019 King of the Hammers event set the stage for a week of new records; steeper competition, grander purses, faster cars, harder courses and for the first time in history, a back-to-back title champion, all before 50,000 enthusiastic fans and 2,000,000 online viewers. Jason Scherer, driver of the #76 4WP Fox BFGoodrich 4400 unlimited car is crowned a King for the second year in a row, ringing in a total of three KOH crowns for the long-time rock racing champion.
Jason Berger, the sports top co-driver (aka navigator/motivational speaker/race-winning winchman), joined Scherer in the car for the third time earning the prestigious top spot together, yet again. Earlier in the week, Scherer qualified for the main event during Power Hour (the specific hour for top ranked drivers), just .08 seconds behind lead qualifier Nick Nelson, to once again start Friday’s main event in the front row for his sixth year in a row.
When the green flag dropped, Scherer and Berger ascended upon the peak of their journey to The Hammers, 235 miles of punishing terrain in which they secured a finishing time of six hours and thirty-two minutes; 5 minutes on corrected time in front of two-time King Erik Miller, with three-time king Shannon Campbell, rounding out the podium.
Every year, the course is set up to be more difficult than the previous. This year, competitors had to drive up Sledgehammer (instead of down, like they have every year in the last decade), then Outer Limits and Spooners trails only on the third lap, as well as, having to drive up Backdoor trail once on any lap of their choosing. This is where strategy comes into play and if you make a wrong decision, it could cost you, the team and your sponsors the race.
As a spectator, we see what’s happening on a superficial level, however, the comradery and trust between the two inside the cockpit is much more telling of the experience and gives further insight as to how a champion is born. Scherer recalls lap 1, “We planned on running a conservative pace. Attrition is the key to unlocking the KOH code and yet we flew in the first lap. We ran an average of 10 MPH faster through the desert section than last year. Considering the entire field was also running at increased speeds, it made for a much more intense first lap than we had expected. We hardly even noticed the 22-degree ambient temp which can be attributed to a pace that not only sped up the race itself, but also kept our focus high. I have to give it up to Fox for making stellar shocks that performed in the whoops at record speeds for our car; they were absolutely dialed!”
The team’s plan was to take Backdoor on lap 2 and as they entered the canyon, they caught up to race leader, Nick Nelson. Nelson had been stuck in that trail’s infamous waterfall with its deep pit for just minutes before the crowd had sight of car #76. This is where Berger stepped in to a key role as an ULTRA4 co-driver which yielded them a chance to become the new race leader – by foot race to a stationary winch line 15 yards up the ten-foot wall and rocky slope.
Berger recounts, “Our original plan was to try and crawl the left line. When we turned into Backdoor and saw Nelson stuck but wheels still spinning in the middle of on our line, we made an immediate decision to go up through the center instead and to immediately winch it. It wasn’t until I got out of the car that I saw Nelson’s co-driver outside of their car working towards their winch, as well. At that moment, I knew I had to get to the winch line first if we had any hope to pass them there. I was able to beat him to it, hook us up, and with our Warn winch working flawlessly, we were able to take the lead.”
Scherer adds, “At the end of lap 2 we knew we had to splash the car with fuel for the back 90 miles. Knowing we were about to enter some of the hardest rock trails, we had a planned audible with our team regarding changing rear tires. After a quick inspection, our team determined they were completely fine and to keep them on for the last lap; we kept our pit time for fuel and general inspection in just under two minutes. This is the second year in a row winning KOH and on the same set of BFGoodrich tires we started the race with and without any flats! I couldn’t be more pleased with their performance on the toughest terrain around.”
When they approached their final lap (still in the lead), the pressure grew. Berger said, “Jason always drives exceptionally well. There were certain times during the race where he was clearly on-point; he drove the best I’ve ever seen. For us, Lap 1 and 2 was one hundred percent dialed. We had a plan, we modified as needed here and there, but we did everything we were supposed to. The third lap is where we had some unknowns as we began to approach lapped traffic.”
Scherer on lap 3, “As we advanced the lappers, we were pleased with the sportsmanship that everyone showed us. They were respectful of our top position and did their best to let us by. Berger was a real champion that day, having to get out of the car to winch us multiple times due to cars being stuck in the common line. However, at one point while on Jack North trail, our good friend and fellow competitor, Trevor from WFO, was out of his car working on their situation when he stopped to help us get around a rolled vehicle by hooking up our winch for us.” Sportsmanship is a term used often of in ULTRA4 racing. In the off-road community, it’s an unwritten rule to help someone who is stuck, because one day you very well may find yourself in the same position. Luckily for Scherer, that act of kindness transferred to the race and provided an advantage, keeping him on his way through his final lap, now with a 25-minute lead on Erik Miller.
This is a difficult race, only 29 of the 111 competitors reached the finish line within the 14-hour time limit. Jason Scherer is a recurrently fast driver; the combination of preparation, team support, vehicle ability, and talent combined to allow him to win the 4400 race for the second year in a row. Scherer’s final thoughts, “I have always said ‘KOH is won in the shop’ and that couldn’t be truer today. Our RAGE 4th crew is top notch; everyone is so calm during prep and on race day that when a potential issue arises, we communicate it either by round table discussion or during the race with our trusted Rugged Radios in every effort to help us keep the car together; making way for our lead and the confidence to finish on top.”
Scherer’s Crew Chief, Adam McGough states, “The whole time in the pits we were hopeful that we had done everything right. When we find it doing just that on race day, we’re still discussing possibilities of things going wrong, preparing and being ready for it. The brands we’ve partnered with have consistently delivered products for us to prove worthy and we’ve done just that. It certainly has helped to partner with 4WP, the nation’s largest retailer of off-road parts, respectively. We can usually get what we need from them to solve an issue within a short amount of time, so it was awesome to have their support on the lakebed with their store on wheels.” In addition to McGough, the RAGE 4th crew who works on the car and runs Scherer’s race efforts consists of family and friends including Ole Stogesburg, Brian Whitford, Ben Ratto, Chad & Brett Lujan, Michael Greg Hussey, John Webb, Brian Farris, Steve Headen, Beep, Bab Touras, Dan Trout, Ben Bower, Jeff Mello, Gary Uffins and his brother Casey Scherer.
On the horizon, Scherer is looking forward to Easter Jeep Safari in Moab this coming April with the Starwood Motors team and continuing his effort to provide everyday Jeepers expertly designed and functional bumpers through his RAGE 4th brand of products; now available on custom builds from this leading Jeep and truck customizer – Learn More: rage4th.com
PARTNERS: 4WP, Fox, BFGoodrich Tires, Warn Industries, Method Race Wheels, RCV Performance Products, RAGE 4th, Safecraft Safety Equipment, MagnaFlow, Spidertrax, Rigid Industries, Redline Oil, Odyssey Battery, ARB 4×4 USA, Power Steering Solutions, Dynamic Motorsports, RCD Engineering, Jeep, Rugged Radios, Tilden Motorsports, Reid Racing, Powertank, Fishmouth Fabworks, Elrod Performance Straps, Motive Gear, High Angle Driveline, Weldon Pumps, PAC Racing Springs, C&R Racing, Jamar Brakes and Sparco USA
KING OF THE HAMMERS RIGHTS CLEARED PROMOTIONAL IMAGES: https://bit.ly/2BteZMw
Follow Jason Scherer #76 on Instagram, Facebook and Official Website
Check out ULTRA4 Racing’s previously recorded live video coverage of the action at ultra4racing.com/live
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
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Danville, CA 94526
ABOUT JASON SCHERER: Jason Scherer has been racing for over 18 years and has stood on the podium at many events, winning the most prestigious event in rock and desert racing 3 times, the 2009, 2018 and 2019 King of the Hammers. Other notable achievements include top 25 finisher in nine ULTRA4 King of the Hammers races since 2008, 4 KOH podiums in a row since 2016, 2018 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Impact Award recipient, a coveted first place finishes at the 2012 and 2013 and 2017 ULTRA4 Nitto National Championship Race, 2013 ULTRA4 Metalcloak Stampede, 2016 ULTRA4 Fallon 250, and ULTRA4 National Points Champion of 2016. His consistent performance is backed by winning the Pro-Rock Championship in 2006 and repeating the victory in that series in 2007. Scherer embraces his racing career with a very supportive wife and children who join him on the trails near their Northern California home in their extremely off-road equipped 1972 Jeep CJ-6 and 2018 Jeep JLU – Learn More: jasonscherer76.com
ABOUT ULTRA4 RACING & KING OF THE HAMMERS: ULTRA4 has an East, West and Northern series, and a growing European Series. These races take place on both public lands and in private property around the world. The granddaddy of their events is King of The Hammers, which takes place each year in February on public lands in Johnson Valley, CA. The race has evolved from 12 teams racing for bragging rights and a case of beer, to more than 450 teams competing before more than 60,000+ fans in person and nearly 2,000,000 online for the season opener. Each of the ULTRA4 series of races is a qualifier for the King of The Hammers race each year. In addition to these races, Hammerking Productions established the racing class known as ULTRA4. The defining characteristic of this class is that all cars must be capable of 4-wheel drive. Beyond that, the class is unlimited. These cars come in all shapes and sizes and are capable of speeds over 100+ MPH and still contain gear ratios as low as 100 to 1 for technical rock crawling – Learn More: ultra4racing.com