Nitto Tire, a leading manufacturer of off-road and street performance tires, celebrated its second year as presenting sponsor of the Griffin King of the Hammers off-road race by taking first place in the Unlimited 4400, the series' most demanding class.
Held Friday, February 7th in California's rugged Johnson Valley, Nitto sponsored racer, Loren Healy, of Farmington, N.M., took the top winning spot driving the Unlimited class 4400 No. 67 Jimmy's 4x4 ATX Wheels/Nitto Tire Ultra4 buggy, finishing with a total time of 8:03:25 on Nitto's 40x13.50R17 Trail Grappler Mud-Terrain tires. With his win in this year's Griffin King of the Hammers, Healy joins elite company as one of only two drivers to have won the event multiple times.
Healy began racing in the Ultra4 series in 2009 and has quickly progressed up the ranks, adding the Ultra4 championship to his racing resume in 2010. Having participated in every Ultra4 competition since, Healy is a regular top finisher in the series since he began racing. When he is not competing in Ultra 4, Healy owns and runs a solar power business.
The Griffin King of the Hammers is billed as the world's toughest 4x4 race, and above all, the Unlimited 4400 class is the main and most sought after class win that all participants strive to win. In fact, of the 156 drivers who started the event, just 32 finished. Including race winner Loren Healy, Nitto had a total of five drivers complete the event. Finishing fifth was Derek West from Springfield, Mo., in the No. 4420 Jimmy's 4x4 Nitto Tire Ultra4 buggy. Right behind West was Rick Mooneyham of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, in the No. 554 Nitto Tire Trick Toys Fabrication Ultra4 buggy. Also finishing this grueling event were Nitto-sponsored drivers Ben Napier from Sydney, Australia, and Erik Miller of Cumberland, MD. Napier, driver of the No. 4461 BN Motorsports Ultra4 buggy finished in 16th place, while Miller, driving the No. 4421 Miller Motorsports Ultra4 buggy came home in 25th place, despite leading a portion of the event.
The Griffin King of the Hammers presents an intimidating blend of desert racing and rock crawling with the drivers facing sand, hard-packed rock trails, near-vertical rock walls and treacherous ledges. With a fraction of the starting group completing the course, simply finishing the race is a tremendous achievement. When the dust had settled and final time adjustments were made, Healy took the 2014 victory and received the Nitto championship ring.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.