ESAB and LetzRoll Racing at King of the Hammers 2017
After finishing three years in a row, this year's King of the Hammers (KOH), bad luck finally caught up with Andrew McLaughlin and LetzRoll Racing. ESAB sponsors the LetzRoll team, and ESAB is also the official welding and cutting sponsor of Ultra4 Racing and KOH 2017.
"We started out at about 18 out of 120 vehicles," says McLaughlin of the 4493 vehicle running the Ultra4 unlimited category. "We were doing ok until our steering system failed. We fixed it once, but it failed again. We finally fixed it again and got about 15 miles from the finish line before time expired. Uncontrollable mechanicals are part of racing. Sometimes you're the dog, and sometimes you're the hydrant."
After the race, the team did some testing and believes a bad batch of hydraulic fluid caused the power steering pump to fail. McLaughlin actually drove over five miles without steering, a feat in itself as even a basketball-sized rock can send the vehicle out of control.
Much more successfully, LetzRoll ramped up its presence at the event with a second vehicle in the 4800-class, which is an all-around vehicle designed for ripping down sand dunes or trail riding, but could also serve as a fun buggy and even take the family out to dinner. Visitors to ESAB's SEMA booth got a look at this vehicle back in November. If you're not familiar with LetzRoll, check out this video we shot at an event back in October.
All Hands On
While no welder can fix a power steering pump, they can and did make hundreds of repairs at KOH 2017.
"We were all hands-on with the ESAB Rebel™ welder," says McLaughlin. "It was nonstop for a week. It's our go-to machine. We repaired vehicles and trailers just so people could get home. We even repaired KOH support vehicles and safety vehicles. One of the coolest things we did was build a steel drag for the race course that was pulled behind a bulldozer — a giant version of what you see on baseball infield."
As always, the ESAB Solutions Tour Truck and its applications engineers and experts helped both race teams and attendees with welding and cutting repairs. Shock mounts, drive shafts, tabs, brackets, chassis, hood pins, radiators, skid plates — whatever can break will, and ESAB helped weld it back up.
Adding to the Fun
While the Solutions Tour Truck provided technical support, ESAB's social media team brought KOH to fans that could not attend via live feed, behind the scenes coverage and updates through social media — check out content on Facebook and YouTube. Like at most of its major live events, ESAB holds both on-site and online giveaways. ESAB would like to thank everyone who participated.
Overall, KOH 2017 was a win for the industry. As the sport continues to grow, it's staying true to its roots. In other racing categories, perceived slights on the track lead to fists flying after the race. That's not the case with Ultra4, where people help each other out.
"Whether you're a competitor or a spectator, the bonds among us have gotten stronger. They're almost unbreakable," says McLaughlin.