Event’s first sponsor outside racing brings powerful tooling support
to extreme desert racing’s premier event
“Raw awesome,” says driver
LATROBE, Pa. — Beginning February 3, more than 40,000 racers and spectators will descend upon the desert of Johnson Valley, California for the 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers Presented by Nitto Tire. Extending its message of “Extreme Challenges, Extreme Results,” WIDIA is joining the event as its first non-racing industry sponsor.
Considered the ultimate desert race, the King of the Hammers (KOH) is an event for custom-built vehicles combining high-speed racing across the desert floor with extreme rock climbing at intervals along the way. Starting with only 13 competitors in 2007, KOH grew to 135 competing teams in 2012.
The WIDIA Rock Racer was unveiled at IMTS 2012 and will be making its Ultra4-class debut at KOH 2013. With driver David Buchberger, WIDIA is sponsoring one of its own, since David also serves as vice president of Hi-Speed Corp. (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), a distributor of WIDIA-brand products and services.
“WIDIA’s theme is “Extreme Challenges – Extreme Results, and nowhere is that better exemplified than in Ultra4 racing in general and David in particular,” says Bernie McConnell, vice president, WIDIA Products Group and Services. “We’re very proud of this sponsorship and look forward to connecting with a whole new demographic of racing “fanatics” that machine components, fabricate parts, and assemble race cars. WIDIA tooling can help these teams face any challenge in the shop and come through with a strong performance, just like David’s Ultra4 Rock Racer.”
“To be honest, I’m incredibly humbled by all the support from WIDIA,” Buchberger says. “Racing like this is raw awesome, but it takes an incredible amount of time and resources. With WIDIA’s tooling, know-how, and support, we’re bringing a top-shelf car to an event that’s the biggest it’s ever been and still growing astronomically.”
For KOH Week, the city of “Hammertown” will come into being on the desert floor. WIDIA will be exhibiting in space C-8 in “The Big Tent” in the center of Hammertown, (with an aisle dubbed “WIDIA Way”) which will be open to drivers, crew, and spectators 9am to 6pm daily from February 2 – 8, 2013.
Like any extreme event, simply qualifying and being one of the racers taking part in King of the Hammers is an amazing feat. To further showcase WIDIA’s tooling prowess, Buchberger and WIDIA are machining the aluminum participation plaques each race team will receive at this year’s event. “This year will be the first time these plaques have been machined/milled using WIDIA tooling,” Buchberger says, noting they’ll be “way cooler” than past models.
The Ultimate Desert Race
Dubbed the toughest one-day off-road race on the planet, KOH has become so popular that a whole race circuit was created; Ultra4-class racing through a Pro Series and Regional Series, designed to produce an Eastern, Western, and National Champion.The defining characteristic of Ultra4 class is that all cars must be capable of 4-wheel drive. Beyond that, the class is unlimited, meaning all cars are custom-fabricated and come in all shapes and sizes, capable of speeds over 100 MPH and containing gear ratios as low as 100 to 1 for technical rock crawling. Competitors must complete the 165-mile course in less than 14 hours and pass through seven checkpoints all while staying within one hundred feet of the course centerline.
Parts Never Seen Before
Each Ultra4-class car is unique, attempting to straddle the line between heavy and fast for desert racing and light and nimble for rock racing. Buchberger believes WIDIA tools give him the opportunity to be both. “I’m able to get parts made I could only dream about before,” Buchberger says. For example, he and his team designed and built a custom adapter between the transfer case and the transmission out of 6061 T6 aluminum. Re-splining the 8620 case-hardened output shaft on a mill-turn machine was very challenging
Milling also helped benefit the frame components of Buchberger’s racer. Where most fabricators weld different material thicknesses together in the search of the perfect balance between light weight and high strength, Buchberger was able to take bars of cold-rolled 1018 steel, a grade known for a good balance of strength and ductility, and mill truss components down to 0.040-inch honeycomb, resulting in a very strong, yet light component.
“I’m really proud of the car, how competitive it is, and how outside-the-box it is,” Buchberger says. “It’s certainly capable of winning.”
Follow all of the action LIVE!
WIDIA.com will be streaming live footage of KOH 2013 on Friday, February 8th beginning at 8:00am PST. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/WPG-KOH. After race day, the recorded footage and all other can’t-miss KOH coverage will be available at www.ultra4racing.com.