Will Ford’s 3 kitted-out Broncos fill the podium at the King of the Hammers?
Ford is using one of the toughest off-road races there is to return Broncos to sanctioned 4×4 racing. King of the Hammers, held in Johnson Valley, California, is a unique off-road racing event that pairs high-speed desert running with difficult, technical rock-crawling sections. It requires a strange mix of low-speed flexibility and ground clearance for the rocks with long-travel suspension and power for making up time across the sand.
A trio of new Broncos will be entering the field of this year’s race, which takes place the first week in February. All three are competing in the ULTRA4 4400 class and are wearing approximations of two-door Bronco bodywork, although the fronts are pinched for clearance and the tire sizes are beyond even Bronco Sasquatch territory. The stance is much wider too.
The ULTRA4 4400 class is what kicked off King of the Hammers and any engine and tire size is fair game. Ford didn’t specify what engine is under the race trucks’ short hoods, but bet on a lot more power than any production Bronco. Pushrod V-8 power is not out of the question. The suspension is also unlimited in ULTRA4 4400, but the vehicle must have a transfer case and be able to operate in four-wheel-drive. Just about anything goes in the class, with the only real rules pertaining to safety.
Ford picked veteran King of the Hammers drivers Loren Healy, a two-time overall winner; Jason Scherer, a three-time champion; and longtime Ford Mustang Formula Drift driver Vaughn Gittin Jr., who has four races under his belt, including a seventh-place finish in the 4400 class last year. Each will pilot a Bronco with a unique livery.
“King of the Hammers inspired us to ensure every production Bronco model delivers the capability, durability, and high-speed off-road experience this growing off-road enthusiast community has been trying to create on their own,” says Mark Grueber, Bronco marketing manager. “These Bronco 4400 race trucks underscore our commitment to the Bronco Built Wild capability and innovation in the red-hot off-road racing scene.”
Ford will use King of the Hammers to show off the current and upcoming lineup of Bronco Sport and Bronco models, as well as the Bronco R Race Prototype that just finished the Baja 1000. The automaker is even offering Bronco ridealongs. Finally, Ford mentioned that a Bronco model that has yet to be revealed will make its debut on Wednesday, February 3. Could this be the long-rumored, long-travel “Warthog” we’ve been seeing in spy photos for the past several months?