By Eric Anderson
The King of the Hammers, staged in southern California’s Mojave Desert and known as the toughest 1-day race on the planet, combines desert racing mixed with massive rock climbs made of boulders the size of single-car garages. With names like Chocolate Thunder, Sledgehammer, Backdoor and Jackhammer, you can imagine what these torture-tests incur to any 4-wheeled racing vehicle.
The Every Man Challenge (EMC) is an event for stock-configured, mass-produced vehicles with names like Toyota, Ford and ROXOR. No specialty rock crawlers are allowed in this field. The 4600 class has the most restrictive rules at King of the Hammers, requiring the factory engine, stock frame, full-body, single shock, and 35-inch tall DOT-approved tires.
Winning driver Jesse Haines kept his ROXOR semi-stock to comply with the class rules – only beefing up the leaf-spring suspension, tweaking the stock turbo diesel motor and installing his own portal axles. “The ROXOR’s turbo diesel engine was a real advantage today,” Haines revealed. “The torque is such a benefit in the rocks, and our fuel economy allowed us to pass several other teams that had to make pit stops and add fuel.” Starting with a vehicle featuring a boxed steel frame, a heavy-duty Mahindra turbo diesel 4-cylinder engine, and a truck-style transmission gave Haines the reliability he needed on race day. With over 70-years of making vehicles that tackle the most challenging terrain, Mahindra prides themselves on the ROXOR’s simplicity and durability under the most demanding of conditions.
Attrition is extremely common, even for purpose-built Ultra4 class race cars designed for these two opposite ends of the spectrum. This year, only 38 of the 122 EMC vehicles that took the green flag in the 4600 stock class reached the finish line. Haines started 110th in the field and was able to move up to finish 19th overall and first in class. “The first lap in the desert we knew that we were outgunned by more powerful vehicles with coil suspensions,” Haines confessed. “But the ROXOR just never stopped chugging along.”
The punishing 143-mile course consisted of high-speed lake beds, whooped out roads, and some of the hardest rock crawling canyons in the world.
At one point, halfway through the race, Haines rolled onto his side in a rocky canyon attempting to pass the class leader. He and Justin Sexton, co-driver, were able to right the vehicle and continue on leading the 4600 class for the remainder of the race.
“We had very few issues, we got out of the car a couple of times but nothing major,” Haines shared at the finish line. “I was excited just to finish the race, to win the class with my ROXOR is more than I could have ever hoped for.”
Congratulations Jesse Haines and Justin Sexton!
*All customization provided by Jesse Haines Fabrication. Vehicle owned, built and driven by Jesse Haines.