A Recap of Miller Welders and Blue Torch Fabworks in action at recent 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers
Miller Welders was excited to sponsor the recent 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers, the toughest off-road race combining rock crawling and desert racing, set against the desert landscape of Johnson Valley, Calif. Partner and off-road manufacturer Blue Torch Fabworks joined Miller on-site to offer free equipment access, weld support and specialized off-road repair to the race participants and their 242 vehicles on the lake bed. Over the course of the event, Miller Welders completed more than 170 race repair applications — both assisting drivers with welding support and offering up a variety of Miller welding and cutting equipment and Arc Armor welding protection free for their use.
Miller Welders and Blue Torch Fabworks Make an Impression in Hammertown
Miller Welders was excited to sponsor the recent 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers, the toughest off-road race combining rock crawling and desert racing, set against the desert landscape of Johnson Valley, Calif. Partner and off-road manufacturer Blue Torch Fabworks joined Miller on-site to offer free equipment access, weld support and specialized off-road repair to the race participants and their 242 vehicles on the lake bed.
Over the course of the event, Miller Welders completed more than 170 race repair applications — both assisting drivers with welding support and offering up a variety of Miller welding and cutting equipment and Arc Armor welding protection free for their use.
“The King of the Hammers is like no other in that those of us who had the pleasure of going lived alongside our off-road customers for a week and were able to see their real-world welding application needs firsthand,” says John Swartz, Miller Marketing Manager.
Hands-on welding and cutting demonstrations were also available in the Miller tent area at KOH, located off Miller Welders Way. Spectators could test MIG, TIG and Plasma cutting equipment, get their welding questions answered, learn how to take advantage of special event discounts and also check out the latest offerings in the Miller line of Arc Armor® welding protection.
But what turned out to be really special was the Miller-hosted Ladies Night on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Following a brief overview by Miller representatives, more than 30 female spectators tried their hands at welding and cutting in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. The women traced and cut out their names using a Plasma cutter and then welded the sign to a base using the TIG or MIG welding process.
“I've watched my husband build several off-road vehicles, including the Jeep I also compete in, using his Miller welding equipment,” says Wendy Nickell, a nutrition/massage therapist in her professional life who is also an avid off-roader. “Thanks to the information presented at the Miller sponsored Ladies Night, I have a much better understanding of the science and application behind his favorite tools.”
Ten lucky ladies took home some cool Miller apparel and all of the guests were able to gather for free food and beverages during the session.
Jason Carner and the Blue Torch Fabworks racing team fielded a custom-built Miller Welders off-road race vehicle for the 2012 King of the Hammers premier race, featuring innovative new products.
BTF came out with a strong showing on Wednesday, completing qualifying at Chocolate Thunder in 7 minutes and 57 seconds. During the initial portion of the qualifying run, a large boulder broke the front track bar mount and popped the right front wheel. The BTF team finished 75th — the middle of the pack — giving them a strong shot at working their way to the front in Friday’s King of the Hammers race.
After an easy fix back at the Miller Welders and Blue Torch Fabworks tent area on Wednesday, the BTF team was able to continue prerunning activities and other race preparation on Thursday.
The 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers race began at 8 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 10. View the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers Race Course Map.
On race day, the single-seat BTF race vehicle was running great. Shop owner Jason Carner was able to pass 37 vehicles in the first 53 miles of the race course and swapped out with co-driver James Schofield at Pit Stop 2. Schofield got in the car to do the rocky sections of the course and was doing great —even waiting in line at the bottleneck at Chocolate Thunder waiting for other drivers to complete the rocky pass. While working his way to the top of Wrecking Ball, the vehicle experienced an electrical problem. Driver Schofield tried everything to bypass the problem and with no luck; he was forced to call the race leaving the car where it was.
Schofield continued to spot and pull winch cable for others as any good competitor would do. Meanwhile Carner was working on a plan to get Schofield and the car back to the trailer. Schofield made it back to Hammertown mid-afternoon with help from his team, but had to wait until the KOH race was over to go back out and pick up the vehicle.
“Although disappointed in our race outcome, I could not be happier with how the car performed,” says Blue Torch Fabworks owner and driver Jason Carner. “What a week we all had at KOH! We did what we came out here to do, which was first and foremost to work with Miller Welders to support the drivers and make their experience as cool as possible.”
On Friday at 2:03 p.m., Erik Miller of Miller Motorsports crossed the finish line to be crowned the 2012 King of the Hammers. Miller beat out 134 competitors to win the coveted title and $25,000 prize after completing the 165-mile race in six hours and three minutes.
Erik Miller is no stranger to success; he was the 2010 International Endurance Champion and came in fifth at last year’s Griffin King of the Hammers.
Finishing second was Rick Mooneyham of Trick Toys Fabrication, 13 minutes behind Miller.
Third place went to last year’s King, Shannon Campbell. Campbell overcame issues throughout the day, and at one point was in 30th position, but finished in six hours and 33 minutes. Like Mooneyham, Campbell drove a vehicle he fabricated himself. He is the only driver to have won two King of the Hammers and was the 2011 Ultra4 Series Champion.
This year, the crowd far exceeded Executive Director Dave Cole’s expectations. An estimated 30,000 people attended the nine-day event (people began pulling in Friday, Feb. 3, and departed Saturday following the premier event).In an effort to expand the race-day experience for spectators, race promoters broadcast live coverage to the fans in Hammertown via Jumbotron and a nine-and-a-half hour webcast to fans across the globe. The live feed was also hosted via Miller Welders Facebook page.
Save Johnson Valley – Let's Auction Off Some Welders
As the race came to a close, Ultra4 once again in 2012 decided to host an impromptu auction to raise money for land use conservation. Miller Welders proudly donated a Millermatic® 211 Auto Set™ MIG welder, Diversion™ 180 TIG welder and Spectrum® 625 X-TREME™ Plasma cutter for inclusion in the auction.
The MIG welder raised $1,150 and was auctioned off by KOH event co-host Tim Lund. Due to spotty mobile reception and Internet connection, the TIG welder and Plasma cutter will be auctioned off in the coming weeks via an auction on Pirate4x4.com — the largest off road website in the world. This was done to allow more off-road enthusiasts the opportunity to join the fun and help in saving Johnson Valley, Calif.
Thus far, $40,500 has been raised for Johnson Valley as a result of the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers event. Stay tuned to Pirate4x4.com for news on when the auction will be held.
View the feature galleries within this article for photos highlighting the experience of Miller Welders and Blue Torch Fabworks’ at King of the Hammers, and visit BlueTorchFab.com for more details tracking the build progression.
Want even more feature coverage on this custom-built ride? Check out the March issue of Dirt Sports Magazine and May issue of CRAWL Magazine! Both will feature in-depth photo spreads of the Blue Torch Fabworks KOH race vehicle.
View the Miller Welders Flickr gallery.