Friday February 9, 2018 Mitch Guthrie is a 10%-er, literally, 90% of the contestants do not finish this off-road race called King of the Hammers held annually in the Johnson Valley area of California’s Mojave Desert. the vast majority of the UTVs that started are broke-down in the desert somewhere. The Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers presented by HCR had only 12 of 118 entries completing both laps of the 134-mile desert race within the allotted eight hours.
“I think UTVs have gained a lot of respect over the last few years,” said long-time competitor Mitch Guthrie Sr., who finished third in this year’s race. “They’ve evolved into such high-performance cars. They used to be called kind of glorified golf carts but now we’re going out on Outer Limits and Splitters.”
Most of the purpose-built off-road vehicles that race in today's feature race have 40-inch tires, the little ATVs must conquer the same terrain on tires no bigger than 29 inches. Ground clearance and wheelbase are similarly shortened. So it’s a tough race for them, made even tougher by the general consensus that this year’s course was the hardest ever.
“I don’t know what to say, it has been a long road getting here,” said Guthrie Jr. “I’ve been riding with my dad and we had a few wins but I really wanted to do it myself. I was so nervous though, I have never driven in rocks like this before.”
The 134-mile course was the longest and most difficult in the history of the race. Both laps the course went down a trail called Backdoor, a ten-foot-tall rock ledge that put most of the racers upside-down.
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