There was glory and anguish during the 2022 King of the Hammers on the lakebed and rocks in Johnson Valley, California, with FOX athletes claiming four overall wins, 13 overall podiums, 10 class wins and 31 class podiums.
This was also the debut of Live Valve in the premiere 4400 class and even though the cars equipped with it didn’t have the best showing (Vaughn Gittin Jr finished 6th), there was a lot of buzz surrounding it, especially with Loren Healy’s “leap of faith” during 4400 class qualifying:
FOX drivers showed their might by hitting the overall podium in every race and completely swept the Every Man Challenge, including a Bronco podium clean sweep in the 4600 class!
Prelude to success
Preparations for an event as big and wide as KOH begins early, with several drivers spending quality time with our Motorsports tuners on the lakebed months in advance. This year our team laid hands on more than 30 race vehicles prior to the event.
Toyo Tires Desert Challenge presented by Monster Energy
In the Limited Race, FOX took the top 2 spots in prologue to set the stage for the race. Chase Warren took the overall and Class 10 win. FOX swept the top 8 in the Desert UTV Pro class, and Cameron Steele won the Desert TL class in his wife’s championship-winning Class 7 truck.
In the Unlimited Race, Bryce Menzies qualified 1st while Justin Lofton qualified 3rd. FOX Motorsports Race Tuner Mike Kim rode with Justin in the Live Valve TT #41, but they had transmission issues; Bryce had issues that took him out as well. Luke McMillin took 3rd overall, while Cameron Steele’s Live Valve-equipped TT suffered a failed underdrive and DNF’d.
Baja Jerky Class 11 Showdown
FOX drivers Roberto Robles and Cisco Bio finished 2nd and 3rd. Cisco ran new FOX RAD Class 11 shocks in his brand-new car that was literally being finished on the lakebed. Cisco qualified 2nd for the race.
Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship
Kyle Chaney went back-to-back as overall winner of UTV Hammers race in his Can-Am Maverick. Paul Wolff finished 3rd overall, also in a Can-Am Maverick; Brock Heger finished 2nd physically in his Yamaha YXZ but was penalized for missing two rock trails after a course official waved them to bypass. CJ Greaves won the UTV Open Class in his new Polaris Turbo R, while Bailey Cole won the UTV Stock NA in his Honda Talon.
Mike Kim navigated for 2021 champion Jake Versey, but the duo suffered a broken axle in Cougar Buttes and then hit a huge rock in the dust that ended their day. The car was totaled from the impact, but luckily they walked away with only minor injuries.
During the UTV Grudge Match, the Top 20 from UTV Hammers race advanced to short course format shootout immediately following the rock race. Brian Deegan claimed the win with Terry Madden navigating in their Can-Am Maverick. Brock Heger placed 3rd in his Yamaha YXZ.
4 Wheel Parts Every Man Challenge
The Ford Performance Bronco team of Vaughn Gittin Jr, Loren Healy and Brad Lovell qualified 1-2-3 in the 4600 class. FOX drivers swept the top 5 overall led by Dan Fresh. FOX enjoyed a podium sweep of all 3 classes (4800, 4600, 4500), with Loren Healy taking the 4600 class win. All three Broncos landed in top 10 overall of EMC race with Vaughn/Loren finishing an impressive 5th overall.
Nitto Race of Kings
FOX took the top 4 spots in qualifying, with Bryan Crofts taking the pole position in qualifying and 3-times King Jason Scherer qualifying 2nd, marking his 8th consecutive front row qualifying position. Equally impressive was Paul Wolff qualifying 3rd in a Can-Am!
But it was Healy surprising everyone when he took an extremely risky line and put complete faith in his brand-new Live Valve setup that would have paid off if the transmission didn’t pop out of gear on the technical climb, finishing 4th. Healy stole the show with footage of his 20-foot ‘base jump’ immediately going viral on social media:
With all eyes on the final event, Scherer led the majority of race until losing reverse, which resulted in him putting the car on its side (and hurting his tailbone and hand) in Outer Limits as he tried to get on his line and unfortunately gave up the lead, which he couldn’t regain. Scherer finished second in front of 2020 King of the Hammers winner Josh Blyler.
FOX debuted Ultra4 Live Valve technology with Vaughn Gittin Jr, Loren Healy and Paul Horschel. Healy had electronic throttle body issues after setting an impressive pace early on. He repaired it and pushed hard until having another issue in the front end, resulting in a DNF.
Fun-Haver teammate Gittin Jr finished 6th overall – a solid Top 10 for Live Valve in an extremely challenging race. Paul Horschel barely finished his car in time to start the race and FOX Motorsports technicians had to install Live Valve on the lakebed. Steering issues took him out early this time, but this new FIS (Fully Independent Suspension) car with rear steer (42 degrees up front, 32 degrees in the rear with well over two feet of travel on both ends) and Live Valve will be something to watch for in the future. Healy’s car is technologically advanced, but Horschel’s is even a step further.
Other notable FOX highlights
Cameron Steele did five races (Desert Limited, Desert Unlimited, UTV Hammers, EMC, and Race of Kings). Unfortunately, he didn’t have much luck in four of them. Bryce Menzies also raced in the UTV Hammers race in his Polaris Turbo R but lost an axle. Casey Currie also raced in three races (Desert Unlimited, UTV Hammers, Race of Kings), but didn’t have a lot of luck either and had a good backwards tumble in qualifying in his Polaris Turbo R.
Currie finished the Race of Kings and got that monkey off his back—and it was in the old Savvy #88 car that Mike Kim won in with Dan Fresh—the same car his uncle John and Jessi Combs also have wins in.
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