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King Of The Hammers More Than Just A Competition As It Helps Improve Ford Product

Every time an SUV gets out in Johnson Valley, it is shaken, rattled, and rolled until something happens or it doesn't. The engineering/development guys would just as soon as nothing broke, but if it does, it's okay too because the Johnson Valley is Ford's Bronco proving ground. It is also home of the King of the Hammers Competition in which the Ford Bronco scored a 1-2-3 win in the stock class.
Posted: February 28, 2023 - 7:46PM
Author: Marc Stern

Believe it or not, there’s a lot to be said for a grueling event like the King of the Hammers. Run recently in Johnson Valley, California; the event combines high-speed desert running with extreme rock crawling.

Site of the event is also proving ground

Indeed, the site of the King of the Hammers is also the proving ground for all Ford Bronco development, including crawling up rocks and racing across sand. The event also inspired the development of the all-new Bronco Raptor, the world’s first Ultra4-inspired SUV.

For the record, Ford Performance and the Bronco continue their reign over the grueling terrain of the Johnson Valley with a repeat of last year’s 1-2-3 podium sweep in the 18th annual King of the Hammers Ultra 4600 stock class.

Yes, the King of the Hammers is a tough competition Ford is proud to win. More important to Ford is the type of development work that the area’s environment imposes on vehicles like the Bronco. Imagine what would happen if a rut or bump had broken one of the front suspension members of the SUV. It would show the engineering team that something had to be fixed quickly as the Bronco is a large seller for the automaker. The King of the Hammers competition exposes weaknesses in an off-road vehicle like the Bronco. When a problem is found, the engineering team can fix it and then run the Bronco through the environment again to ensure the fix is right.

Competition leads to better products

“Racing and off-road competition like King of the Hammers lead to better products, like Bronco and Bronco Raptor,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “The stock class Every Man Bronco 4600s continue to showcase the development of new technologies, and these learnings can help us improve the vehicles our customers drive every day.”

The team of Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Loren Healy won the Every Man Challenge in the No. 2567 Bronco 4600. Brad Lovell and brother Roger in the No. 4621 Bronco 4600 placed second in a tightly contested battle to the finish, and they were also the pacesetter in class qualifying. Bailey Cole placed third in the No. 13 Bronco 4600, covering 137 miles across various terrain – from aggressive, technical rock formations to deep, high-speed desert sand.

Each podium-earning Bronco 4600 race vehicle started as a Bronco two-door at Michigan Assembly Plant, powered by a proven 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine with competition-engineered High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension (HOSS) System.

Official truck and SUV of King of the Hammers and SCORE International

Ford’s collaboration with King of the Hammers for the third consecutive year signals its continued presence in the off-road enthusiast realm.

“Having Ford as our official vehicle and a proven competitor in the Every Man Challenge and Race of Kings is as meaningful to our fans as it is to watch racing,” said David Cole, president of Hammerking Productions/Ultra4 Racing.

In addition to its status as the official truck and SUV of the event, Ford also serves as the official truck and SUV of SCORE International Off-Road Racing, which hosts the Baja 500, Baja 1000, and San Felipe 250 championships. Ford also serves as the official vehicle of Best in the Desert and is the back-to-back-to-back champ in the Rebelle Rally X-Cross class with Bronco Sport. For more information on the Bronco, please visit the Bronco website.

Ford Motor Photo

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent many misspent hours hanging out at gas stations (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my earnings while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.