King of the Hammers 2018 has proved to be another grueling year and being
my first race in the #98 Unlimited Class Ultra4 car.
The longest, roughest, dustiest race in King of the Hammers history. We
managed to have a pretty smooth week with only minor setbacks which we would
resolve and be 110% ready for race day. Our goal coming into 2018 in the new car
was get a solid finish at KOH and move up from there throughout the season and we
did just that. Over 12 grueling hours later we finally made it to the finish to be the
26th and youngest finisher of the 2018 King of the hammers.
We Departed from Simi Valley, CA Thursday, February 1st, and drove over to The Fab
School in Riverside, CA where I went to trade school, to talk to the students about the race
car and catch up with all the instructors. After The Fab School, we headed straight from there
to "Hammertown" and set up our camp, what would be home to us for the next week and a half. After arriving to the lakebed, we would unload all the vehicles and get to bed early
because were all aware of the long draining week ahead of us, not to mention the week leading up to now we didn't get much sleep scrambling to finish the car and pack.
Friday morning was driver registration and when we get the KOH race course, so as the rest of the team was back at camp finishing setting up our pit tent, Gunnar, Tony and I set
out on course to start prerunning and taking course notes for race day. The next 3 days for us
would pretty much be filled with hundreds of miles of prerunning sun up to sun down and a
few photoshoots before the car got dirty and run some "shake down" miles on the car to
make sure no loose ends were forgotten before qualifying on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning, we woke up and got the car warmed up by 5:45 AM and went out for a couple practice laps on the qualifying course. We dialed in the car for qualifying then it was time to sit back and watch the pandemonium for about an hour
before it was our turn to make a run. I ended up running a solid lap without beating the car too hard. We ran a 2:02 which was within 10 seconds of the fastest time
throughout most of the day. All said and done I was shooting to land a 20th - 30th place qualifying spot and when the dust settled, we were set to start 34th off the line
on race day so I was happy and ready to race. Most importantly the car was
unharmed from the run unlike a lot of other drivers who break during qualifying so
bad they can't even recover before race day.
Wednesday was race day for my brother Jami, so we spent all day Wednesday
chasing them and doing everything we could to help them get their UTV to the finish.
Unfortunately being such a brutal race, they would come 15 miles shy of the finish
line when they timed out of the race. Heads stayed high and we talked about the race
as a team to figure out what we could do different for Friday's race.
Thursday, we spent the day putting the final touches on the #98 car and
watching certain parts of the EMC race to see where the troubled spots or "bottle
necks" would be so we could anticipate it for Friday.
Friday morning nerves were high and we were doing our best to stay relaxed
and cool before the rollercoaster of a day. We said our final goodbyes and the green
flag dropped. Our goal was to stay calm and let the field thin out the the dust was so
bad and there was little to no breeze so we picked up the pace a little still keeping in
mind to save the car. By the end of lap 1 we made our way up to about 15th position
and still gaining on the front of the pack. Halfway through lap 2 coming down a trail
called "Sledge hammer" we hit a rock that for some reason engaged the starter motor
for the engine and no way to
shut it off with the car power
on. We were down for the
next 45 minutes on the side
of the trail watching cars we
worked so hard to pass go
by, while we were scrambling to disengage the starter. We ended up deciding to run the car all the way
to the next pit stop (about an hour away) to where they would put a new starter on
the car and it was good to go. From then on we battled our way to make back up all
the spots we lost while we were down and get through traffic on the trails helping
other drivers where we could. We knew all chances of a podium spot we gone so we
took a deep breath and made sure
we crossed the finish line. Along
the way we would battle serious
traffic and broken cars in the way
through the rocks, probably
slowing us down overall about 2
hours. Halfway through lap 3 the
sun would go down and man
does the desert change a lot when
the sun is gone. We ended up racing through the last 6 rock trails and 30 miles of
desert in complete dark. At that point we were so tired it took every bit of motivation
and energy we both had left to keep moving. Hours went by where we never saw
another person, not even another light. A deep sigh of relief from both Gunnar and I
when we saw Hammertown again in the distance. We would bring #98 across the
finish line, 12 hours 27 minutes and 23 seconds after we left the starting line. Not the
finish I wanted but we made the best out of a day turned sideways. We were
completely wiped after the day but so excited to have made it to the finish. Just to
prove how grueling the race really was, only 29 out of 102 cars would finish the race
before the time cut off. We are proud to have finished and goals are set to do better next KOH. This is not the finish I wanted, I am always going out there to be the best and bring home a win, but just a finish is almost as impressive as a win at a King of
Overall, we had a pretty smooth but busy week leading up to race day and dealt with some situations on race day and still made it to the finish line. I can't thank all of our partners enough for continuing to supply us top quality parts that are capable of withstanding the hardest single day race off road in the world.
Ultra4 Stampede - Race Report
I am excited to announce that I was able to put myself and Team GenRight on top of the box once again this last weekend at the Ultra4 Stampede in Rancho Cordova, CA. The track was a Short Course style based track with multiple rough man-made rock sections that were taking cars out all weekend. It was a 2 mile loop that was causing as much or more carnage than a race like King Of The Hammers. We had perfect weather which made for ideal race conditions and very inviting for all spectators.
We arrived in Rancho Cordova, CA late in the afternoon on Thursday after the 8 hour drive up North. Thursday night we unloaded and got the pit setup for practice and qualifying the next day.
Friday morning we would spend the entire hour and a half practice session trying to get the car dialed in for the short course by adding and removing weight on the car, changing shock setup, adjusting tire pressures, etc, to make sure the car was as dialed in as it could be for qualifying and the main events. After practice we had a few hours to look over the car before qualifying and found a part that was showing signs of a possible short lifespan so we replaced it just to be sure the car was 100%. Qualifying came around and I just needed and quick, smooth lap, not the hardest I've driven the car but quick and did no damage to the car, we managed to qualify second which I was happy with.
Saturday morning, we lined up for the prelim around 10AM and I didn't need to win, just drive a smooth clean race and finish top 3 and that would put me in a good spot to start the main event. I ended up maintaining second place during the prelim until making the pass for first place 3 laps into the 6 lap race and winning the prelim race which would put me on the poll for the main event. We looked over the car between races and found nothing wrong or damaged so did a basic look over and prep and waited for the main event at 5:30PM.
It was great to start on the pole for the main event, off to a great start I drove hard but not overdriving the car, another driver pushed hard past me through one of the rock sections so I followed and stayed cool until that driver had a mechanical failure less that 2 laps into the 8 lap race and I made the pass for the lead and kept my cool just driving fast enough to not let the car behind me make any time up on me. The whole race was went smooth with no mechanical issues and nothing slowing me down until the checkered. The car worked flawlessly, not even a flat tire all weekend. We took the win with over 3 minutes until the 2nd place car came across the finish line, not to mention of the 13 cars that started the main event only 3 finished. It was a true race of attrition and longevity. I can't thank all of my sponsors enough for the support, you guys always believe in me so I do my best to return the favor. All in all, great weekend and we can't wait until the next race in a few short months. Feel free to contact me for more content from the race.
Post Race Report from 2017 King of the Hammers (KOH)
Tony Pellegrino: Driver - GenRight / Falken Car, #4485
This was my 8th consecutive year to race King of the Hammers and this year’s KOH was interesting!
KOH is the “Superbowl” of off-road racing. It is a weeklong of activities leading up to race day. Over 100 of the top drivers from around the world are here to compete in the worlds toughest one day race. Everything needs to go smoothly the entire week!
We had some challenges with my car during the week (new shocks, transmission went out, u-joints broke & steering went out), but we were prepared and got them all to cooperate by my big race on Friday.
Unfortunately, it meant I had to start from the back of the pack in 113 position out of 124 total cars.
This year’s race course was a little different running in the opposite direction from years past. The biggest difference was the first 6 miles were brutally rough and very few options to pass... So, I put on my game face and Chris Rea (my new co-driver) and I fought hard from the back (still convinced we could win from there).
We got a good clean start and the car felt great! We immediately started picking off cars and passing them one by one. Since we should have qualified in the top 20, we were now mixed with much slower cars. During pre-running I had seen a passing line at race mile 2 going up a hill out of Hammertown and we were able to pass 3 cars which would give us our momentum for the rest of the day!
The rest of the first loop was dusty, but we were able to push all the way up to 21st physical place. Lap 2 was tougher, as the race course led us into the rocks and it was much harder to pass.
By this point in the race drivers were getting hot and tired and making big mistakes. We had a car roll right in front of us at the top of Wrecking Ball which resulted in a temporary race course closure while course officials got the car turned back over. This one incident added about 45 minutes to our time.
So far I was able to pilot the car very cleanly with no real issues. We only stopped to pit for fuel or not at all. On lap 3 we have to run 3 extra trails that are more challenging, plus you and the race car are more beat down!
We stopped for fuel and 2 tires one last time and ran in hard to the finish line!
At the end of the day, we passed 102 cars for 11th place. It did not get me on the podium, but it was just as satisfying and super fun!
The big news this year was my son Jordan (4500 Class) who got the fastest qualifying time on EMC qualifying run time in on Tuesday (winning the KMC Hard Charger Award)!
Then on race day starting 1st in his class but 71st off the line, he passing almost the entire field on race day to cross the finish line 1st, but officially get second on adjusted time. Still a great finish for an 18-year-old young man!
This is Jordan’s 4th year racing KOH and second year in a row to finish 2nd place in the EMC 4500 Class.
I also want to mention that I am incredibly proud of both my boys (Jami Pellegrino & Jordan Pellegrino) for prep’n their cars themselves and doing so well in their respective races on such a brutal off-road race! More importantly for this year, all 3 of us finished our races!
We had over 50 people (family & friends) out this year to help and cheer us on. I feel very fortunate to be able to do this with my boys, it is such a great learning experience and character builder for them. Because I believe if you can muster up what it takes to finish a race like this, everything else life throws at you is a piece of cake! I am so blessed and humbled, to be in a position to race an Unlimited Class Ultra4 car with the greatest drivers in the world and have support from industry folks like yourself. I truly appreciate your faith in us and we love every second of being there for 11 days.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that I got up the next day and lead 100 Jeeps around the desert on the Official GenRight KOH Experience too!
Special thanks to: My crew chief Darren Ruzicka, Team manager Jim Woods, Brian Maxwell, Mark Fechner, Chris Calkins, Eric Pender and the rest of my pit crew who all did a fantastic job with lightning fast pit stops for all 3 races! My wife Debbie Youngers Pellegrino for supporting me in my quest for the KOH crown!
I would be happy to discuss this race with in more detail, as you may want more information about your specific products performance.
We had over 8 people to shoot pictures and video out at this years KOH races. We reached over 500,000 GenRight fans on social media.
This is the beginning of the 2017 season and we have many more events to come!
We should also talk about 2018 at your earliest convenience.
You can see more videos from the race here« And you can see more on my Facebook Fan Page here«
This year’s King of the Hammers race lived up to its claim of being “The toughest race in America”!
Jami’s UTV race was on Wednesday and was going well until at mile 100 of 116 a rear suspension bolt came out and broke the rear shock and axle shaft taking them out of the race.
Jordan’s race was on Thursday and he drove like a champ! At age 17, he piloted his new MOD Class car to take 2nd place only 45 seconds behind the winner. Very close!
My 4400 Class race was on Friday. We started 94th off the line and by mile 90 had passed 80 other racers! My crew chief radio’d us to let us know we were running at the same pace as the leader and with time adjustment we would be in 1st. The car was running good and we knew we could continue at the pace we set until the finish. When at mile 98 of 178 we experienced a catastrophic failure that would result in a high speed tumble 6 times, bringing our day to an end. I broke my wrist and hurt my knee, but feel lucky to be alive!
GenRight Conquers King of the Hammers in the #4485 Nexus
Tony Pellegrino finishes top 10 in the King of the Hammers race
GenRight crossed the finish line after 11 hours 54 minutes and 30 seconds. Pellegrino and co-driver Bryan Lyttle were grateful to be safely across the line, even if it wasn't the first place finish that the GenRight team had been counting on. Overall, GenRight placed 9th behind some of the most talented off-road racers in the industry. Out of 146 drivers who started the race, only 17 finished by the 10:00 PM cut off, proving, if nothing else, that the 2015 King of the Hammers was a race like no other.
We could not have crossed the finish line with out the help and support of each an every one of our sponsors. From Falken Tire, who provided us with food for the week, to Currie for providing us with super heavy duty axles, to Torco for participating in the vendor booth and providing constant support, to King who always has our back when it comes to tuning and adjustments, to VisionX who killed it with their media coverage, to Fuel Safe who came in clutch with additional fuel cans, and each and every one else who helped make crossing the finish line possible, we would like to extend a heartfelt "thank you."
Jordan Pellegrino Proves Himself in the Everyman Challenge
The Youngest Pellegrino Faces Heartbreak Six Miles from a First Place Finish
Jordan Pellegrino, the 16 year old son of Tony Pellegrino and driver of the #4585 Modified class race car, proved that he is a strong and capable driver in the Smittybuilt Everyman Challenge. Taking place on Thursday of race week, the Everyman Challenge was a 130 mile charge through the desert, in which drivers faced all the same obstacles as the Unlimited class, except for going through Backdoor and Resolution.
Pellegrino lead the pack nearly all day. From his 23rd seat starting position, he quickly passed the entire field, battling only Brandon Currie and Mitch Funk for third. When Currie fell victim to a flat tire and Funk ran into other break-downs, Pellegrino charged into first and gained a 40 minute lead, which he held until 6 miles before the finish line. The call came in over the radio that the car was experiencing vibrations-- it felt like a driveline issue. Sure enough, the car's front drive line had fallen apart. Soon after deciding to continue on without the option of 4 wheel drive, they lost the rear driveline, and the rear truss had broken completely off. Jordan and co-driver Gunnar spent nearly four hours trying to repair the car on course, but to no avail. The #4585 car would not make it across the finish line, but one thing is for certain: it was not for lack of effort. Jordan drove like a seasoned driver and competed like a world-class sportsman. A disappointing finish only drives him and the GenRight team to make improvements for next year, as Tony now knows that "the kid can drive! Now I just have to build him an even better car!" See the full story here.
GenRight Leads the Hugely Successful KOH Experience Run!
Saturday Morning After Race Day, Tony Lined Up over 75 Jeeps to Lead a Trail Run on Portions of the KOH Course
The Official KOH Experience was led by Tony Pellegrino Saturday morning just after the awards took place. GenRight lined up over 75 vehicles to run portions of the actual race course. Starting at the Start/Finish line, the group experienced desert sections, a long stop at Pit 2a, and Hwy 19 before heading back to camp.
At Pit 2a, everyone grouped up, got out of their vehicles, and Tony talked about what he goes through leading up to and on race day. He then took questions ranging from what it takes to build a race car, to technicalities of the Ultra4 rule book. This audience was all ears, hanging on Tony's every word!
Though we were completely exhausted from the previous week, the KOH Experience Run turned out to be a great move for us: we forged many new relationships, strengthened old ones, and got to make some wounded warriors who were along for the ride very happy in the process. We look forward to getting more of you involved in this next year.
What's Next?: GenRight Looks Forward to 25+ Events Around the Country
The MiniMoto Build: GenRight has partnered with Cal4Wheel to build the 2015 sweepstakes Jeep. This Jeep will travel all year to events throughout California to raise money for land use. A paired down version of GenRight's Terremoto, this build is sure to draw a lot of attention! There's still time to get in on the build! Contact Tony if you would like to contribute to the Cal4Wheel Jeep!
Upcoming Events: GenRight has a full schedule of upcoming events throughout the rest of 2015. With the help of our Network of Brand Ambassadors, GenRight will be in attendance at over 25 events throughout the country. See a full travel schedule here.
Tony Pellegrino and the GenRight Falken Team Take 2nd Place For The Second Time In The World's Toughest Single Day Off-Road Race
JOHNSON VALLEY, CA (February 7, 2014) – Driver Tony Pellegrino and his co-driver Bryan Lyttle piloted the GenRight / Falken #4485 Ultra4 race car back to the podium again! The eighth running of the grueling Griffin King of the Hammers (KOH), presented by Nitto tire off-road race took place in a remote section of the Southern California high desert.
KOH is the toughest single day, off-road race where this year 158 of the top drivers from around the world attempted to tackle the 198-mile race course filled with rocks, bumps, sand washes, and hill climbs.
Starting from the 38th position, Tony and Bryan had their work cut out for them to get to the front of the pack. The strategy was simple, keep the car together and keep moving! After the green flag dropped, Tony and Bryan were able to make quick work of moving through the field of talented drivers. By the end of the first quarter, the team had already moved into 7th place and would continue to battle their way to the front.
Keeping the car together is exactly what they did! The car only pitted for scheduled fuel stops and were able to run in the front of the pack for a majority of the day. When the checkered flag dropped at the finish, 8 hours 18 minutes later, Tony and Bryan crossed the finish line in 2nd place only 15 minutes behind the winner, Loren Healy, and over 5 minutes ahead of third place. This year's course was so tough that only 32 drivers were able to finish the race.
"The car ran flawlessly all day long, our new 38" Falken M/T Tires on Walker Evans Wheels made the perfect combination to keep the traction on the rocks and through the desert" stated Tony. The GenRight Ultra4 chassis with the King coil over shocks made even the deepest of whoops or largest of boulders easy work for the GenRight team on race day.
The GenRight / Falken Unlimited class pro racer features a hand-built 427 cubic inch Chevy LS based engine boasting over 600 horsepower and 600 foot pounds of torque that is coupled to a Rancho Driveline Turbo 400 transmission that gets the power to the ground through an Atlas Transfer case and a set of Currie Rock Jock 70 axles. This was the perfect combination for power through the rocks and staying ahead of the competition.
This second place finish would not have been possible without the support and dedication of Crew Chief, Darren Ruzicka, and the entire team. The GenRight team members got them in and out of the pit stops quickly and seamlessly giving them the advantage to stay ahead of the pack on race day.
Sponsors of the 4485 Unlimited Pro Class race car include: GenRight Off-Road, Falken Tires, King Racing Shocks, Walker Evans Racing wheels, Currie Racing axles, Torco Racing lubricants, JE Reel Drivelines, WARN winches, RCV shafts, Advanced Adaptors, The Brake Man brakes, Howe power steering, PRP seats, Comp Cams, DEI, Simpson Safety, Rugged Radios, Holley EFI, Optima Battery, VisionX lights, Yukon gears, FK Rod Ends, ARP Fastners, Cometic Gaskets, Darton Sleeves, R2C Filters, ARB Lockers, Master Pull winch rope, HPS Silicone Hoses, Griffin Radiators and Dynomax Exhaust.
GenRight Off-Road is proud to be the Official Suspension of the King of the Hammers and Ultra 4 Series for the 5th year in a row.
This is Tony's fifth year competing in the #4485 race car. Previous Ultra4 Racing accomplishments include: 14th Place in 2010 KOH 2nd Place in 2011 KOH 3rd Place in 2011 Silver State 300
Best in the Desert Parker 250 20" of wheel travel Zero to 60: 5 seconds Top Speed 127 MPH Race ready: 4700 lbs
Unlimited 4 Wheel Drive (Ultra4) Class Specs for GenRight Racing 4485 race car: Chassis: Custom one-off two seat CrMo tube chassis. Suspension: Double triangulated 4 link front and rear Engine: Custom built 433 cu/in LS7 aluminum V8, 700 HP / 620 ft/lbs Torque Exhaust: DynoMax muffler with a custom 4" stainless steel tube Trans: 6 Speed Auto with manual shift valve body T-Case: Atlas 2 Race case with 3.0:1 ratio Axle Housings: Currie Rock Jock 60's, 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern with 5/8" studs Axle Shafts: RCV 300M shafts
Gears: Yukon 5.13:1 ring and pinions Lockers: ARB front and rear Driveshafts: JE Reel 2 piece front and 1 piece rear, 1350 U-joints Brakes: The Brake Man calipers with solid rotors and hats Shocks: King 2" coil overs with 3" diameter Quad Bypass's on each corner Radiator: Griffin rear mounted aluminum radiator with Spal fans Coolers: Griffin Oil & Trans with Spal fans Gas Tank: 22 gal GenRight fuel cell with synthetic rubber bladder Tires: 42 x 14.50 x 17" Goodyear MT/R's, red label sticky compound Wheels: Walker Evans 17 x 9 beadlocks Steering: Howe Performance Trophy Truck Pump with 2.5" ram, Full Hydro system Lights: (2) VisionX LED lights on front (1) VisionX 30" LED light bar and LED tail lights Seats: PRP Window Nets: PRP Winch: Warn 9.0 RC Winch Line: Master Pull Superline XD synthetic rope
Radio System: Rugged 60W with wireless co-pilot system Gauges: Auto Meter Shifter: Art Carr
Fire System: DJ Safety Cold Fire system, 20lb with 3 nozzles Jack: Aluminum Craftsman race floor type