Ladies Night on the Lakebed! Each year Miller Electric provides a night of fun and welding for the ladies hanging out in the desert. I attended tonight’s event, and what a good time we had. First off, they build our confidence, we are reminded that women make better TIG welders, that the same amount of education it takes to become a nurse will get you a career in welding, that if you have fun with it, your husbands probably will too.
They designed a business card holder and a flower pot for us to build tonight, we got to MIG weld, TIG weld and to use the plasma cutter. All take a little bit different skills. I love the plasma cutter, but man is it quick, if you blow it, you’ve probably blown right through your piece.
My best part of tonight, aside from getting to make some new friends, was when the MIG welding guy told me I had the best bead. Yeah me! and I got to do something new, I haven’t TIG welded before.
The rest of KOH was exciting today, the whole day was spent on qualifying. Eighty guys ran the short course, some looking for a spot in the main race, others just establishing their start position. Lots of good stuff happening, tomorrow will be more of the same. I’m so happy to be out here with the thousands of people who are here to have a great time. The next few days are going to be epic.
The momentum is building, the city is growing, the number of people and motorhomes and tents and buggies have become too numerous to count. Each morning since we got here 10 days ago, I get up and walk the perimeter. The fence line is over two miles long around the town, with a spur that goes to the edge of the mountain. I walk the spur too because it is all up hill and that’s good for me. There is a spot around the Northeast fence that has no cell coverage, so my Pandora cuts out, but the rest is a great walk.
This morning as I turned around at the end of the spur, I was amazed at what lay below me. I had thought with it being Monday morning, a bunch of people might have gone back to their real worlds for a few days. That so is not the case. The crowds are big and excited. Every driver and their pit crews are working hard to make sure their cars are ready. Some are having more luck than others. Several have rolled, lots have lost transmissions, other parts have broken, one almost burned down. It is hard to be entered for the big race and know that if the flag drops at this moment to start the race, you aren’t ready yet. Many teams are working around the clock to get everything together.
Tuesday is the start of the LCQ – these are drivers who have come out here to compete on a short course, just to have the chance to be in the big race. Kudos to them for taking the chance – only 1 in 6 will make it.
King of the Motos ran today, oh my gosh, that was brutal. We watched on the Jumbotron as these guys worked and worked to get over the rock passes. Congratulations to all of the competitors, whether you finished or not – you deserve a What A Stud! It is tough enough to watch the four wheel drive buggies go through. But to watch the moto riders have to heave their bikes through it, it was as much upper body strength as anything.
In theory, we only have 88 teams left to register for the rest of the races, but the lines have been out the door for two solid days as we deal with all the pit passes that are being purchased. I’m tired, we’ve been working hard and smiling through it. I love being a smiling face, especially for the new drivers. The ones where this is their first experience at the big event, they all seem a little dazed and confused at the hype and hoopla, I like to be able to ease them through that. You remember what it was like your first time, well, it’s just like that for a bunch of these guys.
We’ve seen a lot of our friends, which is the best part, in fact, the only reason we do things like this. I can’t count the number of times we’ve been congratulated on our marriage and thanked for Christmas cards sent. So far we’ve had the following things brought for us, avocados, bananas, Vodka, a potato and a great photo. It is great to see people.
Saturday night I got to do something new…Mustard Dog gave me a Chinese Lantern to light and send off. I was like a kid in a candy store. Lujan and I did it together and we were supposed to make a wish as we sent it floating upwards. Of course, by the time it was on its’ way, the only thing I was wishing was that it would rise higher and not light the tents on fire. We had already burned a hole in the side of the lantern, so we weren’t sure we would be successful, but we were. Two lanterns flew at the same time and lit up the blackest of nights out here on the desert floor. It was awesome.
Seventy-four drivers were registered on this first day of the official race week. The Main Event is next Friday, in between now and then there are several other events taking place. The King of the Motos will go off on Sunday, there are forty-five teams registered for that, most of them Pros. Names that if I was up on motorcycle racing, I probably would recognize.
On Tuesday and Wednesday will be the Last Chance Qualifier, or LCQ. This event has sixty drivers entered, it’s a short course with a lot at stake. The top ten drivers with the best times get to be part of the main event, the rest go home.
Thursday sees the Everyman Challenge, or EMC. I haven’t looked at how many drivers are registered for this one. These are the stock rigs, the trail rigs that have been modified to meet the safety requirements for racing in a race as tough as this one.
Friday is the main event, KOH, King of the Hammers, this is the daddy of all four-wheel drive races, to some it qualifies as one of the top ten hardest races in the world for any type of motorsport. On a league with Dakar and the Baja 1000. There will be 110 entries to this race, one hundred that have spent the year qualifying for the race and the ten that transfer from LCQ.
There are two trails, Backdoor and Chocolate Thunder that will have full recovery teams standing by to help them right themselves and get out of the way should they have trouble. When we pre-ran the other day, we had our own little trouble on trails that weren’t anywhere close to as hard as the ones needing full time recovery crews.
Before the races begin, I will spend my time making sure the process for the drivers is easy. That all of the questions get answered, that everyone is happy, then I’ll spend sometime at the campfire listening to their stories, so looking forward to that.
Thursday, Hammertown has exploded with activity. There are teams and vendors and portapotties coming in by the truckload. There are food vendors set up and the welcome gate is manned, the lakebed has finally come alive. No longer a desolate valley filled with insects and foxes, it’s filled with people and horsepower now.
Our day was pretty typical to begin with, a trip to town for laundry and groceries, a quick stop for a greasy hamburger from John’s Place in YuccaValley. I was nursing a hangover and truly enjoyed the zucchini fries. When we got back out to the lakebed, I found a message from a KOH staff member, “could use some help if you are available.” Well, sure I am, I love helping, tomorrow is the official start of my work week out here, so beginning a day early isn’t really a big deal.
Turns out our registration process was not yet established, so together a crew of three put together the plan to implement, of course, that changed a bit before we were able to deploy it and some other things took precedence over the work we were doing. So after some course changes, we finally had the world right again by three a.m. Just soon enough to set the alarm for a few minutes after six. Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and we need to get organized before we start seeing drivers, should only take a little bit for that.
Looking so forward to tomorrow, lots of drivers to see again after a break, lots of questions to answer. That’s my favorite part, being the answer girl.