KOH Recap – Our Time at the Hammers
John Swartz works with an attendee at the Ladies Only welding event in the Miller Welders tent in Hammertown.
Miller Welders was back in full force at the 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers (held Feb. 3-8, 2013), the toughest off-road race combining rock crawling and desert racing, set in Johnson Valley, Calif.
Along with partners Blue Torch Fabworks (BTF) and The Fab School, Miller Welders provided weld support, assisting drivers with repair and offering up a variety of Miller equipment and Arc Armor® welding protection free for use. Hands-on demonstrations were also available to KOH spectators in the Miller tent area, located off Miller Welders Way.
Miller also hosted not one, but two “Ladies Only” hands-on welding events. Following a brief welding overview led by Miller regional weld trainer Shanen Aranmor, attendees tried welding and cutting in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Two projects — a business card holder and planter — were available for the ladies to weld up and take home as souvenirs. More than 60 ladies attended the two events and several Miller staff members were on site to walk them through each process.
“I like the TIG (process) the best, probably because it felt more comfortable like with learning to sew when using a sewing machine,” said Ladies Only attendee Tanja Williams. “It’s not any more complicated than that. If you can sew, you can do this.”
Fellow attendee Erin Hess also enjoyed the TIG process.
“My husband is a welder and I wanted to show him that I could weld, too. I definitely think TIG welding is the best. I thought it would be really difficult and it was totally doable,” said Hess. “I learned a little bit of everything and can’t wait to use it again.”
Nearly 200 vehicles packed the lake bed participating in the Every Man Challenge and KOH race.
Race participants who chose to run a unique KOH/Miller Welders decal on their vehicle received free weld support and equipment access in the Miller Welders tent, as well as pit support on race day. Race finishers received a Miller/KOH finisher hat after crossing the finish line.
Jason Carner and the BTF racing team fielded a custom-built Miller Welders-branded race vehicle for the 2013 King of the Hammers race.
The car participated in 2012 event but experienced an electrical problem, forcing the team to pull out from the race. After some minor tweaks and new electrical wiring provided by Pro Wire in Southern California, the solid-axle BTF car made a strong showing in 2013 and completed the qualifying run in 4 minutes and 50 seconds. This finish put them in the middle of the pack for Friday’s KOH race.
“This is a race of attrition. So you have to keep the car moving forward…. and don’t kill the car, said Carner. “You can have a good finish by just being consistent in this race.”
The 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers race began at 8 a.m. Pacific on Friday, Feb. 8. BTF co-owner and driver Jason Carner took the first 51 miles in the single-seat race vehicle and was able to pass more than 30 vehicles.
Coming back into the main pits in Hammertown, Carner, who prefers the high-speed desert racing to the rocks offered the wheel to BTF co-owner and co-driver Peter Basler.
On Friday at 3:30 p.m., Randy Slawson crossed the finish line to be crowned the 2013 King of the Hammers. Slawson beat out 128 other competitors to win the coveted title and $25,000 prize after completing the 180-mile race in 7 hours and 28 minutes. Finishing second was Shannon Campbell, with Chicky Barton in third. Last year’s champion and Miller Welders partner Erik Miller of Miller Motorsports placed 4th.
Back on the race course, the BTF team hit a bit of misfortune during the second lap. The vehicle had a flat tire and steering line issue but BFGoodrich and The Fab School’s mobile Miller Welders repair unit provided support and got BTF back up and racing after some assistance at Pit 2.
Peter made it back to the main pits (located behind the Miller Welders tent in Hammertown) where the team changed a tire and Miller Welders repaired a crack in the steering Knuckles using a Multimatic™ 200 MIG/TIG/Stick welder.
Basler tore off from the pits and went up through Back Door and Resolution before breaking a front locker. He attempted to get through the rocks at Spooners but the now 3-wheel-drive (a result from the broken locker) wouldn’t allow for it. At approximately 6:30 p.m., the BTF team pulled out and headed back for Hammertown.
“Once again, King of the Hammers has put the beat down to us,” Carner said with a smile. “We’ll give it a shot next year.”
Only 27 vehicles participating in the 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers race crossed the finish line. Access race results here.
More than 30,000 people attended the week-long event. Race promoters broadcast live coverage to the fans in Hammertown via Jumbotron and a webcast to fans across the globe. The live feed was also hosted via Miller Welders Facebook page. Almost 290,000 people (unique viewers) tuned in throughout the week.
Check out the photos available within the media gallery in this article or view more event photos in the 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers album available on the Miller Welders Facebook page.
SAVE JOHNSON VALLEY
Ultra4 Racing hosted an impromptu auction in Hammertown to raise money for land use conservation. Miller Welders donated a Diversion™ 180 TIG welder and F-Series Arc Station™ for inclusion in the auction. The two were auctioned as a package and brought in $1,750.
Almost $37,000 was raised for land use as a result of the 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers and work continues to preserve the land available to outdoor enthusiasts. More information is available at savethehammers.org.