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The “Napsta”, Ben Napier

The King of the Hammers race that takes place in Johnson Valley, California’s network of challenging trails commonly known as “The Hammers” started when a group of 13 friends ran several of the toughest  trails in a single day just to see if it could be done. Every year since that initial “O.G. 13 run”, as it is called, the race has witnessed an explosion in spectators, media exposure and the number of drivers wanting to compete. The event has been so successful; it has spawned the Ultra4 racing series, which holds events across the nation.

One of the racers who have been caught up in the KOH whirlwind is Australian Ben Napier. Ben had been driving 4×4’s since he took his driver’s license test behind the wheel of the family’s 1972 Land Rover. Ben then stepped it up when a friend asked him to compete in the Australian W.E. Rock series, which he did, and they had great success. Ben was having fun in the WE Rock series but he had read stories and seen videos of the newly developed King of the Hammers race that really sparked his interest.

 In 2009, he came to the U.S. to race with Bomber Fabrication owner Randy Slawson in the Best in the Desert, Vegas to Reno off-road race. Ben wanted to get some desert racing experience and figure out the logistics involved with competing half way around the world. The race that year was a multi-stage event that featured three days of desert racing with overnight stops along the way where all the service and repairs were done for the next day’s racing. He and Randy got third place, which qualified him for the 2010 KOH race.

In 2010, Ben raced while commuting back and forth from Australia. He competed in the King of the Hammers race but he was unable to finish in the allotted time. He placed 6th in the Ultra4 Grand slam and 3rd place at both the Hill Climb and the Ultra4 Stampede, which qualified him for KOH 2011.

Ben is one who figures if you are going to do something, do it right. After the 2010 race season, Ben knew that in order to do better he would have to spend more time testing and tuning and that would be difficult to do from his home in Australia. To be competitive in one of, if not the toughest races on the planet, he would have to dedicate his free time to racing. In order to do this, he packed up and moved to California.

Ben spent the months leading up to the 2011 King of the Hammers race dialing in his car and tuning his suspension to handle the brutal mix of the high speed desert sections and huge rocks in Johnson Valley. The hard work and dedication paid off with a solid 10th place finish at King of the Hammers and a good showing at Rausch Creek. Currently, Ben is in 3rd place in the Ultra4 series with three events remaining.  He continues to advance his race program with King Shocks’ new IBP internal bypass shocks that give him velocity and position sensitive damping in a durable, monotube shock body. Ben is also running the Wide Range Compression Adjusters so he can make quick changes to the compression damping with a simple twist of the knob, which comes in handy when you race in such diverse conditions.

Ben Napier and racers like him are the reason why we never stop developing new ideas or refining our existing products at King Shocks.  When you put so much effort into being the best, you deserve the finest shocks available. Whether you are racing the toughest race on the planet or just out for a fun weekend with the family, get the most performance and control from your vehicle with a set of King Shocks. Nothing rides like a King.

*Photos by Mikes Race Photo.com

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