I came, I saw, I got dust in my lungs. King of the Hammers 2023 proved to be just as epic as intended. With record crowds, a beefy entry list and no shortage of carnage, the dust is still settling on the Lakebed.
Over 1,000 competitors flooded Hammertown to compete in nine different events throughout the two-week period. The mack daddy of them all, the Race of Kings, saw 107 teams on the starting line of the toughest off-road race in the world. At the end of the 202-mile course, only 34 teams crossed the finish line.
Third time’s still a charm
Starting third off the line for the Can-Am* UTV race on Thursday, Kyle Chaney sought to capture his third crown. After having to fight a bit through the desert section, Chaney gained the lead with a ferocious pace. Hitting the rocks first, he gained the mental advantage he needed and ran away with the race. Finishing in an elapsed time of three hours, 31 minutes and 45 seconds, Chaney crushed all expectations of finishing times.
Chaney and co-driver Scottie Lawrence discussed hitting the rocks first and having no one ahead of them. It put them both in the mindset of “We’ve got this.”
“He’s a beast, a surgeon in the rocks.”
Scottie Lawrence, Chaney’s co-driver
Playing it safe
The Lovell brothers are also off-road kings, having won the Every Man Challenge three times. After working with Ford* Performance on the creation and construction of the new Bronco,* the Lovells have competed in a Bronco for the past two years. We asked Brad Lovell how he was feeling before the start of the race on Friday. “It’s that nervous adrenaline, if you don’t have it, you shouldn’t be racing anymore!” Lovell replied.
Starting 112th off the line and first in the 4600 class, the Lovells led the class for 120 miles of the 143-mile course. But a flat on the last lap and a last-minute pit stop decision allowed Loren Healy to take the lead. The Lovells finished two minutes behind Healy and fifth overall on the day.
“It’s that nervous adrenaline, if you don’t have it, you shouldn’t be racing anymore!” Brad Lovell
What racing is all about
Among all the championship winning stories, King of the Hammers is littered with stories of trials and tribulation.
On their way back into Hammertown after an early morning photo shoot, Bailey Campbell and co-driver Ryan Miller heard a noise in the motor. After trailering their car back to Arizona, they faced an uphill battle and ended up caravanning back to the Lakebed to meet up with Bailey’s brother, Wayland, who had the same motor trouble. Former competitor Levi Shirley kindly loaned the siblings his one-seater, with each brother taking a lap and Miller taking the last lap. Starting from dead last, the trio finished 20th overall, no small feat in the Race of Kings.