DAY ONE: TOYO TIRES DESERT CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY MONSTER ENERGY PROLOGUE
JOHNSON VALLEY, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2024)
The 2024 Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy Prologue was packed with action yesterday as over 200 competitors took off on the short course in Hammertown to tackle the 35-mile racecourse to set their positions for Sunday’s main race. Following the morning’s Prologue, the Baja Vida Class 11 Showdown Presented by EMPI flew onto the course in a land rush start on the Melville Dry Lake for an exciting 45 minute, plus one lap, all-out battle in Volkswagen Beetles.
For the third year, the Prologue on Saturday was an important part of the race. A driver’s time on the 35-mile prologue, which was held over a short portion of the actual racecourse, established their overall starting order and will be added to the driver’s elapsed time on the complete 182-mile racecourse of Sunday’s two lap race. Sunday’s races will be split, first with limited classes that include B2, B3, B4, T3 and T4. Race two will include the highly competitive and anticipated T1, T2 and B1 classes, with some 1400/1450 class vehicles participating in the unlimited race.
With the fastest time in both T1 and overall, the first competitor off the line in Sunday’s Unlimited Race will be Chris Polvoorde (#94) in his brand new 1000 horsepower, all-wheel-drive truck, a build that debuted here in Johnson Valley this weekend. With a blistering time of 30:05.5, Polvoorde was 13.6 seconds ahead of Rob Arcieo (#1066) in second. In the T2 class, Dustin Grabowski (#272) captured the race one class win in the Grabowski Brothers Racing Spec Truck. B1 Unlimited Buggy had a total of four entrants that completed the Prologue with J Dean (#175) setting the fastest time of the day.
“It was really good out there, just a little frustrating being in the dust the last 15 miles,” said overall winner Chris Polvoorde. “The truck is fast, scary fast actually and I needed to calm down because it felt like I was driving a little bit over my head out there. Hopefully I didn’t beat her up too bad for tomorrow.”
Out of nearly 100 UTVs in the Prologue in the B3 class, Brock Heger (#1896) took the top spot in B3 in UTV Open in his Polaris RZR Pro R Factory with a lap time of 32:50.4. Brock will start today’s Limited two-lap race as the first UTV off the line ahead of UTV Pro Modified class leader, Can-Am Factory driver Vito Ranuio (#1825). The UTV Pro Stock Turbo class win was captured by Joe Terrana (#898) and Ethan Groom (#1911) rounded out the B3 class in UTV Pro Stock NA.
In 1400, a class requiring a traditional steel body with working doors, Darren Parsons (#1447) took the win in his Ford Ranger and will line up for the feature race today in T1. The 1450 class victory ended up in the hands of 15-year-old Zack Conner (#1444), also in a highly modified Ford Ranger. In the Limited Buggy B2 class, Todd Jackson (#1030) ran a strong race to top the class with a time of 34:38.0. Amy Brandt (#1632) lead the class in B4 Desert Vintage Buggy. A familiar Ford Bronco driven by Bailey Cole (#13) topped T4 for the day.
2023 Baja Vida Class 11 Showdown Presented by EMPI
Following Saturday’s Prologue, the Baja Vida Class 11 Showdown Presented by EMPI had a land rush start across the Melville Dry Lake to take on the same 35-mile course, but in near-stock Volkswagen Beetles. 36 competitors raced in this year’s showdown with a familiar face taking the win after 45 minutes and a final lap of racing. Blake Wilkey drove aggressively throughout the race in his purple Beetle including hitting the short course jumps at full speed, but in the end, it all paid off. Four drivers did not start the race.
“My mom had a Volkswagen bug when I was born and there has been a picture of me and her with it up on the fridge as long as I can remember,” said Blake Wilkey when asked about his early connection to the Volkswagen Beetle. “I love the history of Class 11 racing and the culture around it, and to see it celebrated at King of the Hammers is rad. This is my fourth year at King of the Hammers, this is my third win and since the day I built that car, it has zero DNFs in 47 races now, but it might be about time to build a new one because it’s finally starting to show some wear and tear. I gotta give it to my team and all the people that support me.”
To view complete results for the Toyo Tires Desert Challenge Presented by Monster Energy Prologueclick here.
To view the complete results for the Baja Vida Class 11 Showdown Presented by EMPI click here.