Nelson, Miller, and Gordon Shine on Day 2 of the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers
Nick Nelson laid down a time of 4:46 at Wednesday’s 4Wheel Parts Time Trials, ending up second overall in the two-day qualifier for the Griffin King of the Hammers this Friday, February 10th
Unlike the solid axles used on Mooneyham’s Trick Toys Fabrication race car, Nick Nelson’s buggy from Jimmy’s 4×4 utilizes independent front suspension (IFS) for better compliance at speed. The brand new, blazing yellow buggy set the fastest time, while most of the field struggled to even finish the course. Only 55 of 70 starters reached the finishing gates under their own power on Wednesday. The rest either succumbed to mechanical failure or frayed nerves as thousands of fans cheered them on in person and tens of thousands followed the 4Wheel Parts Time Trials online.
While he is accustomed to racing under pressure, no one exactly knew what to expect from Robby Gordon during the time trials. A gifted and diverse racer, Gordon’s resume includes not just desert racing but NASCAR, Indy Cars, and Dakar. He is the most recognized off-road racer in the world, but many questioned his abilities in technical rockcrawling. Gordon put all questions to rest as he and co-driver Lance Clifford produced a time of 5:06 and managed the bottom of the coure with excellent line choice and control. This puts the team in a top ten starting position in their innovative race car, which uses a unique twin traction beam (TTB) front suspension that retains strength of a solid axle with the bump compliance of IFS.
Along with Mooneyham and Nelson, reigning King Shannon Campbell and Erik Miller were the only other competitors who produced sub-five minute qualifying times. Miller qualified in 4:58 and he did so in a traditional solid axle vehicle. The Maryland resident placed fifth in last year’s Griffin King of the Hammers and has been a consistent finisher in the Ultra4 series, winning the International Endurance Championship in 2010. He will start on the second row for Friday’s Griffin King of the Hammers, where drivers leave the line two at a time in 30 second increments to tackle 70 miles of varied desert terrain before diving head first into some of the most difficult rockcrawling trails in the world. Competitors will need an iron will, plenty of driving talent, a powerful, robust race car, and more than a little luck to be crowned the next King of the Hammer