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Derek West of Jimmy’s Racing takes 6th at King Of the Hammers

all throttle 1Springfield, MO (February 24, 2012) Off-Road racer Derek West and co-driver Jason Henne of Jimmy’s Racing Team raced in the toughest one day off-road race in the world, the 2013 King Of the Hammers. The team qualified 10th in the “happy hour” on Wednesday which would put them off the line on the 5th row at 8:02.30. There was an option to hit a difficult rock trail or go to the desert right at the start and the 4420 car went for the “Back Door” obstacle to get it over with in the beginning before the traffic jams would start. After completing Back Door and Resolution the team headed off into the desert for some of the roughest high speed sections the race has had to date. After passing back many of the teams that had bypassed the Back Door obstacle and headed straight for the dessert the team was making good time until a brake problem appeared. Derek slowed up a little and continued on while Jason radioed in to main pit that they were going to need some assistance. While still traveling at a fast pace the team was passing another car that is a friend of Derek’s and during the pass Derek looked over and waved as the car was on his side to only focus back on the course to see that he was heading off the road for a large culvert. The drivers tire hit the culvert sending the car into violent back and forth motions but Derek was able to regain control. The team always makes an effort to show appreciation when another team pulls over to let them pass but it was agreed upon at that moment that Jason would handle all of the waving from then on! Getting closer to main pit another team suffered a broken steering part and was completely immovable and was completely blocking the rocky sand hill. With cars also behind there was nowhere to go, after a while the teams behind moved and Derek was able to pull the broken car out backwards and then ascend the rocky sand hill. The team was shortly after pulling into main pit to get fuel and try and figure out the brake issue. Derek radioed to crew chief Travis Brake to check the drivers side hub as they had worked on it earlier in the week and it seemed that the bearings were loose allowing for the brake rotor to move around and press the brake pads apart causing a soft pedal. The pit crew had it all apart and could not find any problems but did find a crack in the steering arm that had occurred from the impact of the culvert while making the friendly pass. The pit crew ended up welding the steering arm up and changing out the hub/bearing assembly for a spare one and 4420 was off into the desert again.

Eat my dust 2Feeling good about the fix Derek sped off out of the pit row to only have the brakes not work in the first corner, Derek said “I decided that whatever it was happening was not going to get worse and to just push on”. Derek had to pump the brakes every 10 -15 seconds for the entire race to maintain a firm pedal. The team headed off for the rock trails where many others would have their race end. Many other competitors had passed while the team was making repairs at main pit making for a lot of traffic on the rock trails. This would make for some slow going as there were not a lot of places to pass on the rock trails and not many were willing to pull over to let Derek pass. Starting the rock trails there was a lot of traffic but the team managed to get through, though they did get held up a bit at most of the obstacles on lap 2. Overall the first lap of rocks was pretty uneventful and Derek and Jason had completed their second lap. With 2/3 of the race complete the goal was to continue on at a good pace to finish the race and pick off any slower or broken cars that were ahead. Starting into the rocks on Spooners and Outer Limits there was no traffic, Derek asked at a checkpoint how many cars had came through and the volunteer answered, “around 13 or so”. It was at this point that the team realized they needed to push harder and all was going good passing a few cars on the lead lap, some moving, some broke down, until the 4420 car rolled over while attempting to maneuver around two broke cars at Aftershock. “I felt like I was on the wrong line but I had a friend helping me make my way through the rocks and then the car rolled over without much warning”, said Derek. After a speeding recovery with the help from the two teams at Aftershock Derek and Jason were on their way again, going on to finish all the rock trails in the daylight to start into the last desert section towards the finish line at night. At this point Derek realized that it was unlikely that he was going to overtake anymore cars unless they were broke or limping along so he set on a pace to hold his position and keep any other cars from overtaking him. Derek and Jason drove across the finish line at 6:16 with a total race time of 10 hours and 14 minutes.

Thanks to all of these companies and their great products to get us to the finish line:

  • Jimmy’s 4×4
  • Nitto Tires
  • NorthStar Batteries
  • Spidertrax Off-Road
  • ATX Wheels
  • Slime
  • Radflo Suspension
  • Rugged Radios
  • FK Rod Ends
  • Yukon Gear and Axle
  • PSC Steering
  • Pac Racing
  • Johns 4×4
  • Advanced Metal Fabricators
  • ShoMe Speed
  • Rigid Industries
  • Branik Motorsports
  • Alltech Motorsports
  • Ouverson Engineering

    Off-Road Solutions

  • Seeyouonthetrail
  • AEM

Photo credit:  Thomas Kingston of Spidertrax Off-Road

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