What makes a rig seem indestructible? Is it an over-the-top multilink suspension system fitted with shocks that sound more like your grandpa's heart surgery? Maybe it's a set of custom Dana 60 axles with cryogenically frozen parts that even Superman can't break? Well, for all of you looking for that perfect bombproof formula for building a rig, just ask the competitors of the King of the Hammers, or maybe just the ones who finished (sorry, guys--just a little race humor). We spent hours roaming the pits at this year's KOH race looking for new technology and for the hot setup for the race. Though the jury is still out on what was the primo vehicle configuration, we saw plenty of smart race technology that all types of rigs could benefit from. Here's a peak at some of the craftsmanship that allowed the racers to tackle everything from the massive desert whoops to the relentless rocks of the Hammer trails. Trailing arms were a hot setup for many of the racers looking for more suspension travel. By mounting the shocks on the arms and closer to the body, the racers are able to get more travel from a shorter shock. In addition to greater shock options they are also able to modify the motion ratio of the shock, which allows them to dial in the suspension more precisely. However, mounting coilover shocks along the links does require heavier spring rates due to the additional leverage.Trailing arms were a hot setup for many of the racers looking for more suspension travel. Though there weren't as many independent front suspension setups as we anticipated, the few that we did run across were impressive, to say the least. Each IFS rig was fitted with massive CV shafts along with centersections and handmade control arms that looked similar to what you would find on a high-horsepower rig ready to battle Baja. Though none of the IFS rigs took home a podium finish, we don't think this is the last you'll see of the monster independent setups. Could the solid axle really become a thing of the past?Though there weren't as many independent front suspension setups as we anticipated, the fe Sway bars are something you don't hear much about, but they are extremely crucial for keeping your vehicle stable at speed. For years most rockcrawlers ditched the units altogether for fear of limiting their rig's articulation. Nowadays sway bars are dialed in to allow the suspension to travel fully but still maintain body and sway control. With the vast number of bar rates and kits available from aftermarket companies like Speedway Engineering and Currie Enterprise, fine-tuning your rig for stability and performance has never been easier.Sway bars are something you don't hear much about, but they are extremely crucial for keep Full hydraulic steering was by far the most popular and common steering setup for the racers. Most chose to run a double-ended ram, which requires a lower volume of fluid, and an orbital tuned to be slow enough to keep the rig from feeling squirrely at high speed but responsive enough to maneuver quickly through the rocks. Power steering fluid coolers are a must for this type of trail abuse also.Full hydraulic steering was by far the most popular and common steering setup for the race Coilless gas charged shocks (also known as air shocks) and struts were out in a big way. With many of the units taking charges from the top and bottom of the shock, the idea is to use pressurized oil and gas to control the rebound and compression of the shocks. Some air shocks, such as ORI struts, act like bumpstops at full compression, eliminating the need for additional nitrogen-charged bumpstops.Coilless gas charged shocks (also known as air shocks) and struts were out in a big way. W A good GPS is worth its weight in gold in desert racing. The Lowrance Baja 540c was the most prominent GPS at KOH. Once the first few vehicles leave the line, a thick dust haze soon follows, and even the most experienced racers can become disoriented. Most racers choose to prerun the course and enter waypoints and treacherous obstacles into the GPS that will alert them in advance, thus allowing them to navigate the course faster.A good GPS is worth its weight in gold in desert racing. The Lowrance Baja 540c was the mo Since the rigs of the KOH come in all shapes and sizes, so do their fuel cells. With the race ranging a little over 80 miles, many of the racers went with smaller cells for lighter weight and limited space. This made fueling at pits extremely important, as every gallon counts when you are in the middle of a grueling race.Since the rigs of the KOH come in all shapes and sizes, so do their fuel cells. With the r High speeds, warm desert, and intense rockcrawling will turn the heat up for you and your rig. Electric fans and high- or rear-mounted transmission, engine, and oil coolers were the norm across the board. And while the added hosing can be a plumbing nightmare, it's still better than a giant rock gouging the radiator.High speeds, warm desert, and intense rockcrawling will turn the heat up for you and your Not all of the '09 KOH field were highly modified tube creations. Poly Performance entered a modified Jeep Wrangler JK that sported the company's new long-travel lift kit and coil springs. A driveline failure took Poly out early in the race, but its entry was a good indicator that this race is open to all types of vehicles.Not all of the '09 KOH field were highly modified tube creations. Poly Performance entered Your 22RE might work great for tooling around the local trails--and many were in the race--but rest assured, a healthy small-block V8 will be your friend come race day. It just goes back to that old Southern saying: "When in doubt, power out!"Your 22RE might work great for tooling around the local trails--and many were in the race- Always leave room for a spare tire. Even with tire sizes reaching 42 inches, practically every rig had a place for its spare. We like the use of the bicycle handlebars to secure the rim and have to think that the sparkly tassels made this guy go faster.Always leave room for a spare tire. Even with tire sizes reaching 42 inches, practically e Winching is one of the last things that you'll want to do in a race, but when the course covers some of the toughest rockcrawling in the world, a winch is a must-have. A small winch is also helpful to keep the buggy's suspension tucked and prevent unloading of the front suspension on steep climbs and descents.Winching is one of the last things that you'll want to do in a race, but when the course c ProgressFrom one-seat moon-buggies to modified trail creations, the King of the Hammers race was filled with a great mix of tube and technology. Desert racing is nothing new, and while rock racing has been around for a hot minute as well, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who could tell you without question what the perfect vehicle setup to conquer both is. If you ask us, the real winner here is anyone who owns a four-wheel drive. It's no secret that competition has always been a breeding ground for innovation and new ideas. It's what gets our hobby moving forward and brings us glimpses of the future. A race buggy might not be in your future, but then again a decade ago coilovers were only for monster trucks and big-buck builds. Times are a changing, and events like the King of the Hammers is just another instrument to help move things along. By Ali Mansour Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!