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Thread: 10 Tips for racing King of the Hammers (or the EMC)

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    Default 10 Tips for racing King of the Hammers (or the EMC)

    *** repost of mine from Pirate, thought I would share here too ***

    (Here is a formatted Facebook version if you want to share on the Book of Faces: https://www.facebook.com/notes/652331351543921/


    10 Tips for racing the King of the Hammers (or the EMC)

    We're in the process of shifting gears from "Hey, it's not even Christmas yet..." to "Holy Crap! Hammers is a month away!". In the spirit of KOH prep, here are 10 tips if you plan on racing KOH this year. (Stay tuned for "10 tips for attending KOH" coming soon). For new teams, pay attention. Just sharing what I've learned over the years. This is actually legit. For returning teams, thanks for reading. I hope you can relate! Feel free to share your own tips in this thread! These aren't the Bible by any means, just some of my thoughts.



    1. Take your budget… and add 30%. At least.



    Seriously. GPS tracking units, USAC insurance, spare parts, little things, food for the week, pit tent, race fuel, remote pit vehicle fuel, more spare parts, beer, the Big Ugly party, more beer… it adds up. If you’re planning on going to KOH on a shoestring budget, add 30% to it now for unplanned expenses. It’s just like building a house when it comes to the budget. Add some cushion. If you do have any left over, buy a t-shirt on the way home. Start saving now. Ask your family to send money. Have a garage sale. Craigslist your children. Do SOMETHING, just be sure to plan ahead. No one said racing was cheap, and if they did, they lied to you.




    2. Make sure you remain friends with your pit crew – including your co-driver!



    I cannot stress this enough. Almost every single team has this incredible group of folks who are donating their time and a significant amount of their own money to be there to help you. YOU. It won’t work without them. Usually it’s your buddies you’re going to wheel with next week. The stress of KOH week can turn most of us into raving lunatics at some point during the week. Don’t take it out on your crew. Take a walk, have a beer, walk through the Jimmy’s tent with your shirt off… something. It’s more important to remain friends after the week than it is to have that spare tire "broken down NOW!!!" This goes double for your co-driver. I should know. I was a dick my first year racing and took it out on my co-driver. He very calmly, but very strongly, grabbed the front of my helmet, looked me in the eyes, and reminded me that “Hey! We’re on the same team, asshole.” It’s a lesson I never forgot. Your best friend in the world is your co-driver. They are going to see you at your very worst during the race and they are going to get you though it so you can focus again. Make sure you treat them right. They’re worth it. When it’s all over, be sure to say thank you to each team member. Personally. And mean it. (Beer doesn’t hurt either. It covers a lot of wounds.)




    3. Bring an Internet geek who has a camera.



    I have to give Charlene Bower full credit for this one. In a single pre-race class in 2012, she helped the team see the value in “the Geek” (which is me, in case you didn’t know it). Every team has one or has one who hangs around… that guy who’s always on his smart phone, who always posts on Facebook and Instagram, who always seems to have a camera handy on trail runs... These guys have value to your team. During race week, you’re focused. You’re dialed in. You have the car, and the course, and the competitors to worry about. Invariably, you wish you had taken more pictures (and you wish you had been in the pictures you took!). Assign this job to one of your buddies who likes it and actually make them a member of your KOH team (for more seasoned teams, hire someone to photograph your team. Money well spent). Make them an admin on your Facebook page (give them guidelines, of course, on what’s appropriate and what isn’t) and turn them loose. You’ll be amazed. Have them document everything. Put them in charge of the GoPros and to capture your story on race day. At the end of the week, you’ll be glad you did (as will your sponsors!) If you really want to make the most of it, have them sign up for one of the Racer Marketing School classes that are offered by Bower Motorsports Media. Better yet, attend with them and be prepared for the Lakebed.




    4. Make sure your vehicle numbers are BIG and easy to read.



    Not only do I race the EMC, but I also get the privilege to shoot the big race as media. From personal experience, I WANT you to see my pictures. I WANT you to like my pictures. I WANT you to SHARE my pictures… (with watermark and permission, of course), but if I don’t know who you are, you’re pretty much out of luck. Last year, there were over 200 media personnel who covered KOH. If they can’t see who you are, you won’t ever see your pictures (unless you won the race or did something incredibly cool or incredibly stupid while a photog was near.) Big, easy to read numbers on all four sides (and even your roof if you flop a lot) make it so much easier to identify and share photos of you after the race. Make it easy for the super cool folks in the media to identify you and you’ll find a lot more pics of yourself. Bonus tip: Make your car brightly colored. It looks great in the desert and it draws the camera. A black car only gets covered if you win or if your last name is Campbell. ;-)




    5. If you want press, find the media.



    Speaking of media, they want your story. They really do. There are only so many shots of buggies going through the desert that you can spin a story around and keep it interesting. It really takes people and backstory. If you see a yellow media vest, introduce your self and make yourself available. You may not think your story is that interesting, but it really is. Put a face to the car. Provide your story. You’re from Canada? Tell someone. You’re from 15 miles away and wheel here every weekend? Tell someone. If you are a team member, ask if they would like to come interview your driver. Chances are your driver is elbow deep in prep, so bring the media to them. Ask if they want an interview (or if they want to interview your driver). Maybe they say no… big deal… but again, if you’re not an established name, chances are you aren’t on their pre-list. Get on it. It also doesn’t hurt to have a one page piece of paper with your information on it: team name, car number, Facebook page, contact information, short bio / team history, team member names and a little bit about why you race the Hammers. Again, from personal experience, when you’re on a deadline, someone who helps you with your work becomes a friend for life. Time is just as compressed on the Lakebed for the media as it is for the drivers, so as much of the “story” as you can pre-write will increase your chances of being published. Again, it may not happen, but you at least stood out and made some new friends. That’s worth it in the long run.




    6. Make new friends.



    There is nothing like King of the Hammers. Everyone describes it as an “Experience” and they speak the truth. It’s monumental. It’s a brotherhood. Everyone on the lakebed is now family and will be for life. Take time to meet new teams. You’ll wheel with them later, you’ll race against them, and you will find most of your best stories have nothing to do with the race, but about the people and a campfire somewhere that wasn’t your camp. Also, make time for the non-racers / fans. They took a week out of their life to come see YOU race. Well… maybe not you specifically. They are more than likely there to meet The Legendary Jimmy Jack or even that Loren Healy guy, but make new fans. Give them a reason to root for you, to "Like" your Facebook page, tell their friends “Man! That dude’s really cool! I had a beer with….”. All sporting events are more fun when you care about a participant or team. If you are EMC, this is even more important. Chances are they don’t know many drivers in our race. Help them know one. Tunnel vision is a very real danger during race week. Take the blinders off and enjoy the people. They are what matter.




    7. Race hard, but remember to party.



    You will be exhausted. Physically and emotionally exhausted. King of the Hammers takes every single ounce of focus you have… but you know what? You are going to be exhausted no matter what. You are there to race, first and foremost, but take time to party. It’s a blast. You’re team’s not going to remember how focused you were, but they will remember if they had a good time, or if it wasn’t fun at all. Define times to work, but set aside some time to play as well. Bonus Tip: Party at camp. There are tons of spectators and tons of law enforcement out on the Lakebed for KOH. I’m not going to pretend I haven’t had a beer while wheeling, but KOH isn’t Table Mesa. There’s a lot of stuff going on, so be safe while having fun. This goes for pit bikes and UTV’s as well. The cops are out there and they will get you (hopefully before you hurt a kid or someone). They’re just doing their job. You do yours. Bonus Bonus Tip: If you party too much, you can crash any where, OR you can just stagger through Hammertown yelling “Winnebego! Winnebego? WINNEBEGO!!!” Your friends will find you eventually… but beware: You may get a creative haircut in the process.




    8. Prep and pre-run… and then do it again. And again. And again.



    John Currie. Need I say more? He and Gerald are typically the most prepared team on the Lakebed and it shows. Tear down, maintenance, pre-running, testing, tear down, pre-running, testing… take the time to do it. It makes a difference. If you can get out to Johnson Valley before KOH, do it. Often. Run the Hammer trails. Shock tune. Just spend time in your car with your helmet on and window nets up (5 point harness as well, of course). If you don’t have access to JV prior to Hammers, run your local trails… but do it in full race gear. Afterwards, inspect your car, tear it down, do maintenance, then do it again. Also, spare parts count as prep. Take the “kitchen sink”. You may not need it, but someone does. I promise.




    9. Bring beer and Chapstik… and warm clothes.



    You may think I’m joking, but alcohol is currency on the Lakebed. Bring beer. It’s amazing what you can buy with beer (and Jack Daniels if you need something from me). Also, Chapstik. It’s windy as a “mutha” out there. Yeah, it’s the desert, but it’s cold and windy and crappy sometimes. Your lips will hurt after a few days. Man up and get some. Do NOT, however, get “glittery cherry flavored Chapstik” like Chad Hummer prefers. You will get your ass kicked at some point. Also, dress in layers. The sun comes out. Hot as can be. The sun goes down? FRICKIN' FREEZING. You want to be able to put it on like a fat man at Thanksgiving and then take it off like a stripper near Wall Street. Oh, and there is always a big wind storm. Always. Take a bandana or something to cover your face. Hats, gloves, sunglasses… yes. All of it. Baby wipes? Really? Hell yes. And in your racecar, be sure to pack a few extra layers of clothes as well. No one actually PLANS to be stuck in the desert or spend the night at Spooners… but there is a reason it’s named "Spooners" Canyon. Pack warm clothes or bring a co-driver who doesn’t mind to snuggle.




    10. No matter the results… have fun.



    I love racing on LetzRoll Offroad. Andrew McLaughlin has two rules he reiterates as he pats my helmet before each race: #1. Have fun. #2. Don’t die. That pretty much sums it up. With the rare exception of a handful of guys, Ultra4 isn’t crammed with pro drivers who do this for a living. We all have “real jobs” and pour countless hours and dollars into our hobby. If it’s not fun, then why are you doing it? Race stress? You bet. Some parts that aren’t that fun? Yep. Breaking 15 miles into the race? Ask Justin (sorry brother). HOWEVER, that’s not the whole experience. There is a lot of Lakebed to live. It will take you two weeks to decompress. That’s normal. It’s a fact. What you will remember, though, isn’t your finishing position so much as the great times you had with your buddies and the memories you made (and the addiction you just fed!). Be sure to have fun. Oh yeah, and don’t die. That’s important too.

    Extra Bonus Info: Shannon Welch is a Goddess. Treat her as such. I mean it. Simon Saines isn’t Australian. He’s French. Dave Cole likes Jack Daniels (just sayin). Charlene Bower also likes Jack Daniels. Josh England likes Fire Ball. Also, do NOT wander through the Jimmy’s tent with your shirt off and a handle of whiskey around midnight. A year later (at SEMA no less), Derek West will greet you with “Hey! I didn’t recognize you with your shirt on!” Not cool. What happens in Hammertown doesn’t always stay in Hammertown. Also, also… get a pit tent for Hammertown (even a small one). It is money well spent. Bring extra food so you can share. Be sure to be doing awesome, super cool, and expensive things for your wife right now. You need to build up some good karma.

    See you on the Lakebed!

    - Alan
    The Dusty Gnome / White Collar Publishing
    Follow @thedustygnome on Twitter and at www.thedustygnome.com or White Collar Publishing on FB

  2. #2
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    Like I said... Good stuff. You dont get part of it till you are there and then you go "Oh I get why they said that!"
    Touch the cow. Do it NOW!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatbob309 View Post
    Like I said... Good stuff. You dont get part of it till you are there and then you go "Oh I get why they said that!"
    Like the "Winnebego" part? :-)
    The Dusty Gnome / White Collar Publishing
    Follow @thedustygnome on Twitter and at www.thedustygnome.com or White Collar Publishing on FB

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    That and the wind/heat/cold... You hear about it from everyone but until you live it, you dont get it.
    Touch the cow. Do it NOW!

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    Love it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatbob309 View Post
    That and the wind/heat/cold... You hear about it from everyone but until you live it, you dont get it.
    I couldn't have said that better. I read your post twice Alan and each time is better than the last. Well done, my friend.
    <><

    No plan B.

    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger except for bears, bears will kill you.

    #Ibelieve

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