King of the Hammers is one of the most demanding, rigorous races in the off-road racing realm—165 miles of combined desert racing and rock crawling in Johnson Valley, California. Known as one of the biggest off-road events in North America, the course is also one of the most difficult, with many racers succumbing to the course’s complexity before the finish line. Only 28 out of the original 112 competitors finished this year.
The week-long event typically begins in February of each year. 2018 saw more than 500 teams registered for competition, and over 50,000 spectators in attendance. The 2019 event will culminate with the 13th annual Nitto King of The Hammers Powered by Optima Batteries on February 8, 2019.
For the second year in a row, Mitch Guthrie Jr. is the Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers (KOH) Champion. Guthrie Jr. successfully defended his title on February 3, following his first championship win at KOH last year.
The Guthrie’s are an off-road family—Mitch Guthrie Sr. (Mitch Guthrie Jr.’s father), has been racing at KOH since its inaugural year. Of the ten KOH UTV races since its inception, Guthrie Sr. has won six of the events, setting a high bar for his son. Guthrie Sr. races only once per year—at King of the Hammers—and is known for his immense skill in the rock crawling sections of the course. He has obviously passed his racing passion on to Guthrie Jr., who has become a formidable opponent. Another thing Guthrie Sr. passed on to his son—a love for exceptional performance parts, which is why K&N® is proud to be a sponsor of both Guthrie Jr. and Guthrie Sr.
The father/son duo have no qualms about admitting the competitive nature between them. “Being a father/son race team is something special,” Guthrie Jr. commented prior to the race on February 3. “But don’t get it twisted—I definitely want to beat my dad.” With Guthrie Sr. holding six championship titles, this is no simple feat.
Despite his competitive edge, Guthrie Jr. is the first to sing the praises of his father. “As a racer, my dad works harder than anyone I know to make sure everything is 100% ready to race—every race. No matter what happens in my career, I owe it all to my dad.”
Unfortunately, Guthrie Sr. was unable to complete the race this year—instead, he chose to stop and assist a fellow driver following a roll-over near mile marker 53. While the driver, Michael Bostick, was able to walk away from the accident, his co-driver, Dierdre McCall, was injured. Guthrie Sr. stopped to provide assistance. A GoFundMe account has been created to assist McCall with medical bills following the accident, which can be found here, and we wish her a speedy recovery. We commend Guthrie Sr. for his display of compassion and sportsmanship, and look forward to watching him race in the coming years.
Guthrie Jr. overcame all of the competition to claim the championship this past weekend. “We did our homework, and came out and did what we had to do,” Guthrie Jr. commented, following his win. “We had a clean run with virtually zero issues, and brought the car home to the finish making it back-to-back King of the Hammers wins!"
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Follow this link to view the miniseries (produced by Polaris) on the Guthrie off-road dynasty.