The King of the Hammers Rookie Program that seized the off-road community's attention last year is back but bigger, better, and with more opportunities for engagement with professional racers, former rookies, and KOH staff. New this year, the program will be open to both Ultra4 and Desert racers. If you’ve never been Driver of Record at King of the Hammers and you’re racing any Ultra4 or Desert class, this is your time!
What began in 2023 as an idea to guide new-to-King of the Hammers competitors, using a single 4400 driver as an example to teach others, quickly snowballed as video submissions poured in. Courtney Prost, Communications and Program Administrator comments: "Watching the videos, seeing the heart and soul of the drivers, and knowing we could help so many fulfill the dreams they had been working toward, inspired us. When Dave Cole (KOH's founder) looked at me and asked if we could take them all, I shook my head and smiled, and we did."
In 2023 King of the Hammers hosted rookies at Dave Cole's ranch in Johnson Valley, California for a weekend of wheeling the trails, education and comradery. Long-time competitors such as Bailey Cole, Jason Scherer and Loren Healy joined, sessions covering navigation, tech, shocks, registration and logistics were held, and a new path for rookies was born. "The type of friendships built here in a weekend take three years of racing," said Cole. The Rookie Program was developed around education, guidance and mentorship. Forging comradery and having direct contact with KOH staff and fellow competitors, thereby improving odds of not only making it to the start line, but also finishing the race.
The program’s expansion has been in planning since the initial launch. Every learning opportunity for the rookies was also an opportunity for KOH staff to learn competitors' needs. The expanded program for 2024 will include the Rookie Refuge, a centralized location for rookies to stay when arriving on the lakebed (grouped garage location with special services). There will be multiple opportunities to learn from partners and veteran competitors, the Rookies at the Ranch weekend to bring everyone together, focused weekends learning the trails and desert while gaining valuable seat-time, and Zoom sessions such as "Ready, Set, Pit!," "Evenings with Athletes," and more. For competitors racing in this year's Ultra4 USA Series, a stop at the ranch for shock tuning and crew assistance before the National race is included as well.
Also new this year, we’re thrilled to welcome Gravel Kings as the official partner of the Rookie Program. Their support will raise the bar to a new level for rookies coming through the Program. Visit us online at the King of the Hammers website for program requirements and how to apply..