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Wickham Racing Skipped NFL Super Bowl XLIX to Take King of the Hammers Challenge

During the KOH SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge Drivers’ meeting it was announced that there were 96 entries

During the KOH SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge Drivers’ meeting it was announced that there were 96 entries; only 12 of those race teams would finish the King of the Hammers in 10 hours

2015 King of the Hammers was Wickham Racing’s first stab at the KOH race

The Wickham family has been off-roading for the last 10 years involving three generations, however, the 2015 King of the Hammers was Wickham Racing’s first stab at the KOH race

For many hardcore off-roaders, like Jade and Kyle Wickham, Super Bowl Sunday was spent staring down the highway instead enjoying the game on a big screen television. Each February since 2007 thousands upon thousands of off-road, Jeep, 4x4, and ATV enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to Means Dry Lake in the Johnson Valley OHV area near Landers, California for one of the largest off-road events in the United States. This special event combines the thrills of high-speed desert racing with extreme rock crawling and due to the many trails with “hammer” in the name; this event has earned the title King of the Hammers (KOH). The King of the Hammers has grown from the original 2007 race of 13 invitation only competitors to a weeklong festival of everything off-road. The expanded race schedule includes hundreds of competitors across several classes such as the KliM King of the Motos, KOH Polaris UTV race, the SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge, and of course the highly anticipated King of the Hammers Ultra4 4400 unlimited race.

King of the Hammers SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge began with racers from four classes

The King of the Hammers SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge began with racers from four classes, including the 4800 Legends Class, lining up at 6:30 am with the race expected to start at 8 am

EMC Teams were given 10 hours to complete the 2015 KOH course

EMC Teams were given 10 hours to complete the 2015 KOH course estimated at 115 miles in length with two vehicles lined side by side and released in waves every thirty seconds

Wickham Racing is family run and consists of brothers Kyle Wickham who drives the 4823 car, Jade Wickham serves as the co-driver, and Doug their father acts as the crew chief. The Wickham family calls the small town of Hagerman, Idaho home and in this tight community there was no shortage of friends and family willing to skip NFL Super Bowl XLIX to hit the road and lend a hand as the pit crew. The Wickham brothers compete in the Legends 4800 class in the Ultra4 Racing off-road series. For King of the Hammers, 4800 class Legends racers took part in the SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge on Thursday February 5, 2015. While this race is called the Every Man Challenge the determination, stamina, and equipment required to compete makes this race nearly impossible for the average Joe.

The Wickham brothers had the skill to finish KOH

Judging by how they passed stuck racers on the Jackhammer trail, and how they scaled Chocolate Thunder with ease, the Wickham brothers had the skill to finish KOH and be competitive

King of the Hammers is a race of attrition with mechanical failure being the number one cause of a DNF

The King of the Hammers is a race of attrition with mechanical failure being the number one cause of a DNF, and unfortunately Kyle and Jade Wickham weren’t immune to problems

The SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge began with racers from four classes lining up at 6:30 am with the race expected to start at 8 am. Two vehicles were lined side by side and released in waves every thirty seconds. Teams were given 10 hours to complete the 2015 KOH course estimated at around 115 miles in length. While covering 115 miles in 10 hours sounds like an easy feat on paper, the 2015 King of the Hammers was a brutal course. The King of the Hammers is a race of attrition with mechanical failures being the number one cause of the dreaded “Did Not Finish” or DNF on the results board. Of the 96 hopefuls who started the 2015 SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge only 12 teams finished the race before the 6:00 pm cutoff. Twenty-nine racers started the 4800 Legends Class race with just four of these teams making it across the finish line in time. To further illustrate the difficulty of the SmittyBilt Every Man Challenge, 20 teams entered the 4600 Pro Comp Stock Class using production based vehicles with only certain modifications allowed, and just one 4600 team made it successfully across the finish line.

King of the Hammers SmittyBilt EMC 4800 Legends Class

Prior to the power steering failure in the 4823 car, Kyle and Jade Wickham were running near, if not in, the top three in the King of the Hammers SmittyBilt EMC 4800 Legends Class

Unfortunately, Kyle and Jade Wickham weren’t immune to mechanical failures on the course and were unable to finish the race. This isn’t to say the Wickham Brothers gave up easily, as it was their fourth mechanical failure that sealed their fate. The 4823 Wickham Racing car suffered a broken sway bar before the first pit stop, and although the sway bar helps with stability at speed, the Wickham Racing crew removed the broken parts and the brothers continued on. At one point the 4823 car’s fuel pump began to overheat, but quick thinking and a fire extinguisher got the pump cooled down enough to keep going. Even a huge cut in the front tire’s sidewall couldn’t keep these brothers down. Due to a unique product called TireBalls, which utilizes multiple inflated cells instead of a single tube, Kyle and Jade were able to continue on without batting an eye.

The Wickham brothers decided to upgrade to a new Spectre custom air intake

For the 2015 King of the Hammers the Wickham brothers decided to upgrade to a new Spectre Performance custom air intake which routed a large Spectre HPR air filter inside the 4800 cab

It was the fourth mechanical failure that ended Kyle and Jade’s day. Around mile 76 the 4823 car had one of its power steering lines fail resulting in power steering fluid being sprayed everywhere. Steering 37” tires at low speeds over huge obstacles on steep grades would be impossible without power steering. The power steering lines used in the 4823 car have a steel reinforced core preventing the Wickham brothers from cutting and repairing the offending section. They made a temporary repair and continued another 50 yards along the course before it failed again. Try as they might, Kyle and Jade could not cut through the line. With less than an hour before the 6:00 pm deadline the brothers were forced to admit defeat and accept help alongside the trail. In King of the Hammers competition, driver and co-driver are the only people allowed to make trailside repairs. Accepting help was an automatic forfeit and resulted in a DNF for Wickham Racing. After borrowing a powered cut-off wheel Kyle and Jade were able to fix their power steering and drive back to their pits as if nothing had happened.

Wickham Racing uses air intake components and High Performance Racing air filters from Spectre

For the past few seasons Wickham Racing has relied on custom air intake components and advanced synthetic media High Performance Racing air filters from Spectre Performance

While the Wickham family has been off-roading for the last 10 years involving three generations of Wickhams, the 2015 King of the Hammers was Wickham Racing’s first stab at this infamous race. When asked what he thought of the race Jade responded “It was a ton of fun. I was so tired going up and down those trails all day.” There was only pride and encouragement in the Wickham Racing pit despite their DNF. Prior to the power steering failure Kyle and Jade were running near, if not in, the top three in the 4800 Legends Class. Because the event is based on time, it’s difficult to determine a racers exact position until the race is said and done. Judging by the tactics used to pass stuck racers on the Jackhammer trail, and how they scaled Chocolate Thunder with ease, the Wickham brothers had the skill to finish the race and be competitive. When asked if they’d be back for KOH in 2016 Kyle was quick to say “We’ll definitely do it again next year.”

Racing air filter from Spectre Performance provides airflow and protection

A High Performance Racing air filter from Spectre Performance provides the airflow and protection needed to keep the Wickham Racing 6.0-liter LS powered 4800 car running at its best

For the past few race seasons Wickham Racing has relied on custom air intake components and advanced synthetic media High Performance Racing air filters from Spectre Performance to provide the airflow and engine protection needed to keep their 6.0-liter LS powered 4800 car running at its best. Most Ultra4 races are held in 20 minute heats and in anticipation of the 2015 King of the Hammers the Wickham brothers decided to upgrade to a new Spectre Performance custom LS air intake which routed an even larger Spectre HPR air filter inside the cab for cleaner and cooler airflow. “This new intake sounds great,” said Kyle. “You can hear it sucking in air.” Jade further commented, “The Spectre air filter we’re using now is almost twice as large as before.” Wickham Racing is using Spectre Performance HPR clamp-on air filter, number HPR9882K, combined with Spectre Performance aluminum air shield number 9730, to keep the extreme dust and debris out of their 6.0L GM LS engine.

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For over 30 years Spectre has been obsessed with cars, racing and speed. Since 1983 Spectre has designed and offered unique and innovative parts and components to fuel your obsession with your car or truck. For more information, visit spectreperformance.com.