ARB Air Locker Sweeps 2017 King of the Hammers Week

ARB Air Locker Sweeps 2017 King of the Hammers Week

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ARB Air Lockers sweep the 2017 King of the Hammers week, with ARB Air Locker equipped vehicles winning all three Smittybilt Every Man Challenge classes (Legends, Modified and Stock) and the Nitto Tires King of the Hammers Crown. These races are a unique mix of high-speed desert sections and extreme rock crawling, which pushes the limits of the vehicle, endurance, and driving skill. The winner of each class relied on ARB Air Lockers to provide on-demand traction and true four-wheel drive.

Last week’s off-road racing started with the Smittybilt Every Man Challenge (EMC), a race created in 2012 as an entry level option for budget-minded racers looking to race during the King of the Hammers. The EMC race consists of three classes –  Stock, Modified and Legends. Differences in rules regarding chassis, drivetrain, suspension and tires create a wide variety in the entries, including some that are daily driven vehicles.

This year’s Legends class winner, Brad & Roger Lovell, have been competing in rock sports for over 10 years and running ARB Air Lockers throughout their successes. This year was no different; as they relied on the ARB Air Locker Ford 9” Competition Edition model in the rear axle. These brothers are no strangers to speed, as Brad races in the TORC short course series and numerous desert races. Brad and Roger Lovell would navigate their #232 racecar to 1st place in the 4800 Legends class. This was the fastest overall time in the 2017 Every Man Challenge, second year in a row and third time that the Lovell’s have taken the overall EMC win.

While the Lovell’s have been a staple of the 4×4 racing world, Modified class winner Marty Mann is new on the scene. Racing on the dirt is not new to him though, as he brought an extensive motocross racing history to the lakebed. Marty entered the EMC Modified class with a 500 horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder 1980 Toyota Pickup that proved to be winning combination. Marty started the race 91 cars back from the pole position and would race his Toyota, equipped with the ARB Air Locker- Ford 9” Competition Edition model, to the finish line as the Modified class winner and 3rd pace overall finisher in the 2017 Every Man Challenge.

The Stock class would see a familiar driver finally get his win. Ben Varozza has entered the EMC Stock class every year since 2012, but has come up just short of the podium. This year would be different with Ben starting on the pole in his ARB Air Locker equipped 4.6 liter stroked 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ and he was able to defend his position throughout the entire race to claim the Stock class win and finish 21st overall.

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Shannon Campbell, a name very familiar with rock sports and longtime ARB Air Locker sponsored driver, entered the 2017 King of the Hammers race chasing an elusive third King of the Hammers crown after winning in 2008 and 2011. For the 2017 campaign, the #5AZ buggy was equipped with a prototype 40-spline Ford 9” Competition Edition ARB Air Locker in the rear axle and a production competition 35-spline unit in the front axle. This year he would have to fight his son Wayland Campbell for the title, doing so by only 28 seconds. After several lead changes and hitting a rock wall, Shannon lost his front driver’s side tire and most of the wheel in the last mile of the race. Shannon continued to push hard, down to 3 tires, to the finish line to become the first 3-time King of the Hammers champion.

Watch Shannon Campbell’s 2017 King of the Hammers highlight video below.

Results:

  • Shannon Campbell – 1st Place – 4400 ULTRA4 Unlimited Class
  • Brad Lovell – 1st Place 4800 Legends Class
  • Marty Mann – 1st Place 4500 Modified Class
  • Ben Varozza – 1st Place 4600 Stock Class

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Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 6 & 7

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Friday Day 6

Friday’s adventure would start with us winding through a pretty narrow canyon eventually directing us onto a long narrow ridge trail. The ridge at times was just wide enough for the track width of the JK as it snaked along debris covered Castner Glacier in the Red Rock Canyon.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited traveling on a narrow ridge that runs along the Castner

Eventually the ridge came to an end dumping us on what would be best described as river rock, part of the former path of a the glacier. We drove as far as possible before stopping for lunch.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Lunch break on Day 6.

On the way back down, we took another route that took us to a cool little unnamed alpine lake where we grouped the Jeeps together for a quick group photo just as the rain started to fall.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

All the members posing in front of a remote, unnamed lake.

Back on the trail for a bit more and we quickly ended up at College Creek, where after a short walk, we were greeted by a questionable suspension bridge that crosses the creek on the way to the Gulkana Glacier.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

A few of the members venturing over a suspension bridge, a footpath to the Gulkana Glacier.

A few of us ventured over the bridge to quickly return after making the trip over the creek. After, we were back on the trail on our way to the last night of JKX in Glennallen.

Saturday Day 7

On the final day of JKX, we found ourselves in the the Knik River Public Use Area. After airing down in the parking lot, we entered the trail system passing lakes with the locals fishing, small sand dunes and crossing several deep waters crossings.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Aired down ready for the day’s adventure.

The water level became high enough that we could no longer travel the dry river bed forcing us into tight, winding trails through the forest and brush. Once entering the trail, the trail became very tight and muddy with deep water filled ruts. This section of the trailed seemed to go forever before kicking us back out on the river bed where we traveled until we reached the most spectacular view of the entire trip, the Knik Glacier.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Navigating a pretty narrow ridge on the way to the Knik Glacier.

After what seemed like a long time traveling through tight, muddy trails, river rock and crossing several creek/river crossings, we were suddenly surprised by a small bay filled with floating icebergs that were being deposited by the Knik Glacier.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

First views of the Knik Glacier on Day 7.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

View of the Knik Glacier on day 7.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

View of the Knik Glacier on day 7.

We lined the Jeeps up with the icebergs and glacier behind the Jeep and enjoyed one of the most spectacular lunch locations possible via Jeep. What a way to cap off the week long 2016 JK Experience in Alaska.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Group photo in front of the Knik Glacier.

After enjoying lunch, we all lined up next to our Jeeps for one last group photo before heading back to the pavement on our way back to where we started, Anchorage. We were greeted by local Jeep enthusiasts waiting for us at the Peanut Farm restaurant and grill where we were scheduled to have one last dinner together before parting ways, aka the “Survivor’s Dinner.”

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in front of the Knik Glacier.

We exchanged stories from the week, ate great food and consumed beverages. Then it was time to say goodbye to new friends as we parted ways. What a week in Alaska and memories for a lifetime.

Previous Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska Posts:
Project Quickstand – Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 1 & 2
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 3
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 4 & 5

 

Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 4 & 5

A quick stop for road construction on the Dalton Highway.

A quick stop for road construction on the Dalton Highway.

Wednesday Day 4

Driving to Deadhorse-Prudhoe Bay is on many people’s bucket lists including ours. When it was announced the night before that we would be making the 1000 mile Dalton Highway trip in two days, you could hear and see the excitement in the group.

The start of the Dal

The start of the Dalton Highway

The Dalton Highway consisted of nice smooth pavement, pothole ridden pavement, patches of gravel, roads made of river rock, full gravel and mud all with a speed limit of 55 MPH most of time. After just over 12 hours of driving on this inconsistent terrain, we reached the night’s accommodations, Deadhorse Camp in Deadhorse.

A photo of the ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in front of the famous Arctic Circle sign.

A photo of the ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in front of the famous Arctic Circle sign.

Shortly after the Arctic Circle sign, you can stop at a small ranger station just passed the only USA bridge to cross the Yukon river. There you can get a stamped certificate stating that you were in the Arctic Circle.

Shortly after the Arctic Circle sign, you can stop at a small ranger station just passed the only USA bridge to cross the Yukon river. There you can get a stamped certificate stating that you were in the Arctic Circle.

When you arrive in Deadhorse, you quickly find out that everything in Deadhorse is there to support the oil operations, not tourism. There really isn’t anything in the town, including food or accommodations. Luckily, we had stocked up with food in Fairbanks before leaving for Deadhorse so we had some “tasty” sandwiches waiting for us in the ARB Fridge/Freezer when we arrived and settled in.

Our "hotel" for the night in Deadhorse.

Our “hotel” for the night in Deadhorse.

If you are not traveling via a RV or van, you will be in for a surprise. Don’t expect a five-star hotel. Instead, all sleeping establishments resemble very large mobile homes that are configured in a manner like a dormitory with two twin beds per room and no toilet, but instead a large shared bathroom with showers. Most of the participants on the trip were not fazed by the rustic accommodation, instead seen it as a unique experience.

Our "hotel" for the night in Deadhorse.

Our “hotel” for the night in Deadhorse.

Later that “night” we were surprised by the staff at JKX with BBQ’ed Reindeer sausage with all the fixings. We ended the “night” standing around the BBQ, swatting at bird-sized mosquitos that were not in anyway affected by the falling rain. All while the sky was still bright enough to read your favorite issue of JP Magazine well past midnight.

Thursday Day 5

The Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic Ocean.

After a surprisingly comfortable sleep in our twin beds, we kicked the morning off with a little breakfast in the camp’s diner. Shortly after breakfast, it was off on a tour bus to the Arctic Ocean. We drove this far so we of course can’t leave without dipping our hands (some their entire bodies) in the ocean.

Old oil drums reaching out into the Arctic Ocean.

Old oil drums reaching out into the Arctic Ocean.

The only way to reach the ocean is to drive through Prudhoe Bay, a heavily secured area due to the oil operations. To do this, you must either be a credential worker in the area or be on a guide bus. After going through an armed check point, it was a just short drive to the ocean where we all had the chance to walk out and put our hands in the Arctic Ocean.

Fueling up the ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in Deadhorse before traveling back south towards Fairbanks.

Fueling up the ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in Deadhorse before traveling back south towards Fairbanks.

Now that most of us accomplished the Arctic Ocean bucket list item, it was time to head south backtracking our route on the Dalton Highway.

Stopped for construction on the top of Atigun Pass.

Stopped for construction on the top of Atigun Pass.

The route south was the same as heading north, just with a little more rain and mud. After a quick fuel and meal at the halfway point in the small town of Coldfoot, it was back on the road to our night’s unknown location.

The Dalton Highway was a little wetter on the way South vs on the way North.

The Dalton Highway was a little wetter on the way South vs on the way North.

After reaching permanent pavement and civilization, it was what seemed like a short drive to our next accommodation, the Hotel North Pole in the Christmas themed town of North Pole, AK.

Click here for Day 6 & 7 of the Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska