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King of the Hammers 2023!

2023 KOH is in the books, and it was a very eventful year. It was a lot of late nights and early mornings while the team battled the elements (and Hammer Lung). It started off with the two-day Toyo Desert Challenge. The first day was rough, with the Bronco losing a power steering line early in the lap, which caused us to drop a bit of time to the fellow cars in the class. However, the race was far from over. We still had 200 miles to race the following day. We absolutely sent it and passed for the lead of the T4 race by race mile 5. The Ford powerplant and Fox shocks made quick work of the desert, and we were the only truck in the morning race to finish all 200 miles!

Bailey Cole Racing Ford Performance Bronco at King of the Hammers
Bailey Cole Racing Ford Performance Bronco at King of the Hammers

The next few days would be spent getting the Bronco and MWAK 4400 cars ready for qualifying. The morning of the EMC qualifying, we realized the course was getting really chewed up for a car on 35s, so we made the judgment call to take a rear start and take the wear off the Bronco for the race. Sadly we also blew up the 4400 motor on Tuesday, so we would be taking a rear start in the Race of Kings as well. It became a crunch to get the cars ready, but MWAK, my imported Australian crew (Jack, Amy, Chad, Chris, and Mitch), and the Brave Motorsports team nailed the prep and got the cars ready for the green flag.

On the morning of the EMC race we were able to rock the Jessie Combs Foundation bandana through on the Bronco, which was special for me as we got to battle it out on the track a few times over the years! The EMC race was going to plan. We passed up to 2nd in class, nipping on Brad's tail as we entered the rocks. Sadly we made a small mistake which cost a CV and any chance of winning the race. Our team fought through it, changed the CV in the pit, and got us back out on the track. We finished 3rd in class and 10th overall in the EMC!

With the solid prerun in the books, it was time to race the 4400 car! We took off and quickly realized the Big B motor that we put in midweek was larger than what was in there before.

Mitch Thorpe (Navi - Left) and Bailey Cole (Driver - Right) celebrate their KOH win
Mitch Thorpe (Navi - Left) and Bailey Cole (Driver - Right) celebrate their KOH win

The added horsepower and speed took a toll on our cooling system. We had to be smart about where we were pushing, but we made the most of it and passed around 50 cars in the desert. This continued through the first rock lap, where we passed our way to the top 20 and didn't have to winch a single obstacle.

The 3rd lap didn't go quite as smoothly as we had to fight through a bit more traffic on the harder trails. It was my first time getting to run Legit, and Z Walk, which our team definitely had some feels dropping through the trail. However, we could push through the elements and a few more cars and finish in 12th overall. Not too bad, considering we started 101st.

This was a complete team effort and couldn't have been possible without the crew! I made it hard on them, but two podiums and a Race of Kings finish is one solid week! Next up will be the Mint 400, where we will continue to go for the triple crown.

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