UTVs rocking and rolling Johnson Valley By the staff of Dirt Wheels Photos by Casey Thomas and Karel Kramer

Past podium finisher Phil Blurton charges through the rocks with Michael Park close behind. You can see Baja racer Cameron Steele standing in the rocks. He hiked back to remote pit two for a bag of tools and parts to fix his car and stay in the race.

Uncounted thousands of fans and hundreds of race teams brave the bitter cold wind of a dry California lakebed to be part of the group of Ultra4 Racing races that make up the legendary King of the Hammers. Races that push people and machines to their limits. Ultra4 is about building cars that will conquer obstacles that no other machines can, and then being able to drive with enough skill to keep the car together and make it to the finish. You would think that King of the Hammers would be dominated by Southwest natives who grew up thrashing rock canyons from day one. However, in the last few years men from back East or down in Texas have won the event.

Short-course racer CJ Greaves, who raced a YXZ in the past, took the UTV Open class win in the all-new Polaris Turbo R. Only half of the new Turbo R cars crossed the finish line, but the finishing average for the event is less than 30 percent. All were in the top 10 overall.

This year’s course and race format were a bit of a curve ball. The week started off with the short-course qualifier round in the heart of Hammer Town. Although the course never changes much, for 2022 the drivers ran it the opposite direction of the previous few years. Cole Clark ended up taking first in qualifying behind the wheel of a Polaris RS1. The new Polaris Turbo R that we were all excited to see conquer the rocks had six entries; however, only three finished the race.

The Yamaha YXZ abounds in short-course racing but is rare for this tough rock race. Rocks didn’t seem to be a problem for Brock Heger as he cruised through Chocolate Thunder. Although Heger finished a physical second, he was penalized heavily for missing a section of the course and ended up in eighth overall and fifth in UTV Pro Modified.
Illinois Can-Am pilot and third-place UTV Pro Modified finisher, Paul Wolff coming down Means Butte during the UTV qualifying lap. He placed 11th for the starting lineup.

The two-lap Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship course consisted of 86 miles of desert and 70 miles through 18 separate rock challenges. Around 30 of the 122 racers completed two laps and made it to the finish line. Can-Am factory racers swept the podium for the third year in a row—Kyle Chaney, Hunter Miller and Paul Wolff. A Yamaha would’ve made its podium debut, but Brock Heger was penalized for missing a section of the course, which knocked him back to eighth place.

2020 King of the Hammers winner Hunter Miller made the UTV Pro Modified podium again this year, making it the third year in a row that factory Can-Am has swept the podium. Hunter and his brother are part of the TexPlex crew and have continued to surprise everyone with their Ultra4 skills.
New Polaris teamster Casey Currie crashed during qualifying and broke the front suspension on his new Turbo R. Currie couldn’t get it fixed in time.
Team Yamaha tried something new entering the UTV Stock N/A class with a Wolverine RMAX. Although it did not complete the race, they made a big statement competing in what might not be thought of as a high-performance vehicle. We were impressed with its capabilities!

For the first time those 122 UTV racers were divided into classes: Stock Production UTV, Pro Modified UTV and Open UTV. The Stock Production classes was further divided into Turbo and Normally Aspirated classes.

Two-time past winner Mitch Guthrie Jr. took on Hammers in yet another Turbo R but with aftermarket suspension from XTravel. Guthrie finished seventh overall for the UTV race.

Also new to 2022 was the Can-Am UTV Grudge Match. The top 20 finishers had the opportunity to go head-to-head for four laps on the short course immediately after the UTV race. A few of the top 20 opted out with the damage and fatigue they incurred from the race, so it went on to the 26th finisher. Skilled short-course driver Brian Deegan took home the win and the $10,000 prize.

Multi-time Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath had a good year. Adding a Stock NA class was a boon for his Kawasaki KRX, and he finished second to Bailey Cole in class. They were the only Stock NA racers to complete both laps.


UTV Pro Modified

1. Kyle Chaney

2. Hunter Miller

3. Paul Wolff

4. Cody Martin

5. Brock Heger

6. Brandon Sims

7. Phil Blurton

8. Brian Stone

9. Cody Miller

10. Michael Park

UTV Stock Turbo

1. RJ Anderson

2. Joshua Smith

3. Bryan Crofts

4. Jason Weller

5. Mitchel Alsup

6. Brian Tilton

7. Brian Deegan

8. Kyle Knosp

9. Chip MacLaughlin

10. AJ Zirkel

UTV Open

1. CJ Greaves

2. Mitch Guthrie Jr.

UTV Stock NA

1. Bailey Cole

2. Jeremy McGrath

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