Photos: Poison Spyder, Rodney Wills, Randall Davis
There is no doubt that the crawler segment of the RC hobby will continue to grow, the question is, which direction will it go, and why? We have seen a tremendous shift from the competition style of crawling toward the scale side of crawling in the last year. No, this does not mean that competition crawling is dead or dying, but instead that the segment is branching out and attracting a lot of new people that are entering the hobby to enjoy the scale vehicles. There is another branch that is really on the rise as well, the rock racer, or rock buggy. These are likely to be considered scale rigs, though their capabilities are closer to that of competition rigs. All of us who enjoy the RC hobby share an appreciation for the vehicles these rigs are modeled after. I find that most people who are into scale crawling have also dabbled into full size off-roading assuming they are of age to do so. I live on the west coast of the states, a virtual hot bed of off-road areas. One of these areas, the Johnson Valley OHV area hosts one of the most grueling off-road races in the world, The “King of the Hammers”. We packed up the jeep and headed out to see what this event was all about.
Let me first admit that I am no stranger to off-road racing, whether it be the Baja 1000, the Dakar Rally or the World Rally Championship, I have pretty much seen it all. That is what I thought going into this event, and boy was I wrong, these guys are nuts! The King of the Hammers event is an all-out desert race through the toughest trails in Johnson Valley. This means the competitors not only fly across the desert floor at speeds of almost 100 mph, but they must also tackle some of the harshest rock trails on earth, all while racing each other and the clock. The vehicles used for competing in this event range from lightly modified Jeeps to full on purpose built tube chassis rock racing monsters. The race itself consists of two laps around 80 miles each. These competitors smash and slam their rigs through trails in mere minutes that take the average crawling enthusiast a full day to do. This appears to be the way of the future, attracting off-road greats like Robby Gordon, Shannon Campbell and Larry McRae. This could also very well be the future of scale RC rock crawling/racing. Imagine racing your scale rock buggy through whoops, then up and through knarly rock passes littered with vehicle sized boulders, sounds like fun to me!
While out at the King of the Hammers (KOH) event, we hooked up with Larry McRae from Poison Spyder. These guys are off-road fanatics and enjoy off-road vehicles in all scales! They were at the event debuting their new “Venom One” purpose built rock racer. This vehicle was made specifically for the KOH event and to compete in Ultra4 events going forward. They competed in the “Every man’s Challenge” event and took home top honors in the modified class. This was an amazing feat for a first time outing with a race vehicle, especially in this environment. They are very involved with scale crawling as well, as most of you know, the Poison Spyder name can be found on the Axial Wraith. When these guys aren’t racing, they are out on the trail enjoying the great outdoors with their family and their RCs. One of the Poison Spyder fans created a custom scale crawler for them to match their full size rock racer. This rig looks really cool!!
These guys did extremely well with their new Venom One Chassis winning their class in the Every Man’s Challenge
We also spent a few minutes with Larry McRae and Shad Kennedy who told us about their efforts at the KOH event and their new “Venom One” Race Rig, check it out!
Thanks to our friends At Aerial PhotoWorx!
Here are some other highlights from the event …..
This type of racing event is sure to continue to build steam, which leads me to believe this segment of RC will also continue to gain popularity. I think it is really cool that Axial stays on top of the full size trends offering the RC enthusiast access to their full size dreams with scale vehicles. When you have some extra time go over to YouTube and punch “King of the Hammers” in the search box, you will see what it is all about. I am really looking forward to the day when I can enter a rock race and race my buddies over some extreme terrain!