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King of the Hammers Puts Ford SUVs through grueling maneuvers

Some wonder why Ford puts its SUVs through a tough-as-nail challenge. It’s simple to prove the automaker is the best.
Posted: February 7, 2024 - 10:41PM
Author: Marc Stern

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Ford Performance and Ford Bronco are set to take on the rugged terrain of Johnson Valley once again with a strong lineup of drivers and teams competing at the King of the Hammers off-road race.

The 18th annual King of the Hammers,  marks the start of the Ultra4 Off-Road Racing season in the United States. Ford has started the last two seasons with 1-2-3 finishes in the 4600 class.

Related story: King of the Hammers proves Ford SUVs built Ford tough

“We are thrilled to be back at King of Hammers again this year surrounded by our fans and customers,” said Mark Rushbrook, Director of Global Ford Performance Motorsports. “This is one of the toughest off-road races in the world, and our teams will continue tackling the proving grounds of Johnson Valley while showcasing the performance and reliability of the Bronco.”  

King of the Hammers consists of 90-mile courses across high-speed desert sands and rock crawling across tricky terrain. It is one of the most extreme off-road competitions in the world. Approximately 100,000 spectators are expected to converge on the barren Johnson Valley to watch the race, with millions more viewing online.

Ford Performance is entering an all-star lineup of Bronco teams in Ultra4 4400 Unlimited and 4600 Stock racing classes.

4600 Stock Class in the Every Man Challenge: The 4600 class adheres to close-to-stock regulations, with every Ford Bronco starting as a production vehicle from the Michigan Assembly Plant with modification upgrades available for Bronco SUVs through Ford Performance.

Ford will have three teams competing in Every Man Challenge:

  • Loren Healy and Vaughn Gittin Jr. (No. 2567), 2023 Every Man Challenge 4600 class winners, will once again navigate Johnson Valley in their Bronco 4600
  • Brad Lovell and Adam Lovell (No. 4621), the father-son duo participating in their second race together, Lovell’s second-place finish in 2023 and first place in 2022
  • Bailey Cole and Cole Johnson (No. 13) anticipate a competitive performance in the Bronco 4600 after Bailey Cole’s 2023 third-place finish.

4400 Category in the Nitto Race of Kings): The Ford lineup in the unlimited 4400 Race of Kings category features iconic names in off-road racing wielding purpose-built machines under the Bronco nameplate. The Bronco Raptor FOX live valve shock technology makes a statement on these full tubular chassis race vehicles.

Three-time 4400 winner Jason Scherer (No. 76), Loren Healy (No. 67), Vaughn Gittin Jr. (No. 25) and Bailey Cole (No. 13) are all expected to race and rock crawl their Unlimited 4400 Bronco SUVs to the finish line.

Unlimited Trophy Truck: Christopher Polvoorde (No. 294), an off-road racing star, is set to debut his new Mason Motorsports Trophy Truck Ford in the Unlimited Truck category in the desert race. He aims for the top podium this year after a stellar performance and second-place finish in 2023.

Ford Performance will be located in the pop-up city of Hammertown and have several Ford vehicle a number Ford vehicles, including the newly debuted F-150 Lightning Switchgear, an off-road electric demonstrator created in collaboration with RTR, and the Bronco DR, a limited-production competition Bronco created explicitly for desert racing and powered by a Ford Coyote 5.0-liter V8 engine.

To learn more about the Bronco and Bronco Sport models, please visit Ford.com/Bronco.

Ford Motor Photo

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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