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Ford Broncos Take On and Tame California’s ‘King of the Hammers’

Ford’s 4600 Bronco took on the field for the third year and came away victorious in a competition that saw many trying to win and many not making it.
Posted: February 10, 2024 - 8:33PM
Author: Marc Stern

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If you want to put an SUV to the test, there are other venues to go to besides “Hammertown”, California. This is where they run the “King of the Hammers” competition yearly that either leaves competitors with bent and steaming vehicles or with SUVs that can stand running up and down rocks with no paths, except more rocks that always hold out the promise of breaking something new.

Ford Does It Again In ‘King of the Hammers’

Held last weekend, the “King of the Hammers” competition saw Ford emerge victorious. The Ford Bronco 4600 once again conquered one of the toughest tests in the off-road race calendar in its third King of the Hammers appearance. A victory over the field and rugged terrain in this year’s edition marks a third consecutive win in the turnkey, race-ready stock class and once again showcases Bronco’s Built Wild credentials.

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Brad Lovell registered his third consecutive pole position, but Bailey Cole set the pace on his way to victory. Cole recorded his first-ever King of the Hammers 4600 class crown to lead a record-breaking field of six Broncos.

“We knew going into this year that it would be a rough course,” Cole said. “I thought there might be opportunities to take creative lines to get an advantage, and the Bronco just performed regardless of what we threw at it. We got into an early lead and kept it rolling. Man, I can’t believe it. This feels amazing. To do this in Bronco has me on cloud nine. It was so special when we came across the finish line, and I got the No. 1 from my dad.”

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In the last three seasons, Bronco has firmly established its presence as one of the event's most capable stock class entrants following an unprecedented podium sweep in its first two years. Loren Healy and Vaughn Gittin Jr., who had won the event in the past two years, earned a hard-fought second place despite facing multiple challenges. Healy was fresh off a 2023 Ultra4 Racing National Championship in October, followed by helping the F-150 Raptor R to a SCORE Baja 1000 full-size class win.

Hammers Remains Truest Test Of Bronco products

“King of the Hammers, undoubtedly, remains one of the truest tests for our Bronco products,” said Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsports Mark Rushbrook. “It has been the venue for many developments to make Bronco even better for customers worldwide. We’re happy to see our success continue for a third year in a row, but seeing more Broncos in the field is even more satisfying. It’s a testament to our continual development and passion behind our off-road program.”

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King of the Hammers is one of the world’s foremost off-road events and the first 2024 Ultra4 Racing season race. The race is renowned for its unpredictability and brutality, and this year was no exception. Competitors faced high levels of attrition, battling the natural elements that range from large rock formations and deep silt to high-speed lake beds. Still, once again, Bronco rose to the challenge in a highly competitive field to cement its position as the off-road leader of the pack. 

To learn more about the Bronco two-door, four-door, and Bronco Sport models, please visit

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Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971. His automotive articles have appeared in venues including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

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