Last year, Randy Slawson’s bid to score another King of the Hammers win fell heartbreakingly short when a mechanical failure on the final lap contributed to one of 12 lead changes on the day. This year, Slawson would make up for that lost opportunity, scoring his first victory since 2015 from 29th on the starting grid, completing three laps of the grueling race in just over seven hours.
“We brought this car brand new last year, and we passed everybody in it and then the rear end broke,” said Slawson, who had failed to finish the previous four KOH events. “It was heartbreaking, but I knew that this car was so fast. I wanted to bring it back and show everybody just what this thing is capable of. And we had an absolutely flawless day. Everything on this car just dialed. We’ve been backed up by the best in the business and it’s really been a pleasure working with people over the years.”
“Yesterday we were sitting right here. And the last Bomber, turnkey race car Bomber car that I built last year, a 19-year-old kid (Chayse Caprara) won the EMC in. And I was like, man, the last time I had one of my customers win the Every Man Challenge I won the next day. I was like, just taking it as an omen. And right then Jason Scherer rolled by, and he waved me over to his car, and he gave me a fist bump. He said, you’re gonna win it this year.”
Brothers JP and Raul Gomez completed the podium from first and ninth place in the starting order, respectively, while Bailey Cole and Vaughn Gittin Jr. completed the top five. Every previous KOH winner except for JP Reynolds was on this year’s grid; of that list, top finishers included Erik Miller in seventh, Jason Scherer in 11th, Loren Healy in 14th, and Shannon Campbell in 15th.
After 44 drivers finished last year’s event, for a 37% finish rate, the 2021 edition of the course was redesigned to use harder trails and remove one pit. In the end, the drivers brought their A-game to meet the increased challenge; with a smaller entry list due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 37 racers took the checkered flag to actually increase the finisher rate.
Full results of the 2021 Optima Batteries King of the Hammers were as follows:
|5||25||VAUGHN GITTIN JR||3/8:16:53.935||$4,500|
2021 is shaping up to be a big year for Hammerking Productions, which will promote Great American Short Course, a replacement for the defunct Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, alongside the Ultra4 National Championship. Further details on both championships have not yet been announced.