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Spotlight on Joe Bunker

Joe Bunker knew where to find action at the 2010 King of the Hammers, so he headed out to Aftershock canyon to watch the racers tackle  the last climb of the canyon. Little did he know he would be saving the life of Ken Mercer later that day when Ken’s Ultra4 race car rolled over and ignited into flames. Mercer was unable to free himself as the fire grew in intensity but the quick thinking Bunker pulled out a pocket knife and dove head first into the fire to free Mercer from the wreckage. Joe Bunker was credited with saving a life that day, and resulted in changes to the Ultra4 rule book regarding safety. Bunker was celebrated at the finish line by Mercers team mates and the sponsors of the race putting him on a path to attempting the race himself in the 2011 Last Chance Qualifier. Bunker will be back in 2012 once again chasing the dream, from spectator to race car driver.

OffRoadPress continues its spotlight on the drivers of KOH and asked the usual questions to show that KOH is still every man’s race.

How long have you been competing in Ultra 4 Racing?
1 year

How long have you been racing?
1 year

Tell us about your past experiences in the King of the Hammers and where you have finished?
Spectator since ’09 race, lcq in he ’11 race dnq

What’s the attraction to racing the King of the Hammers for you?
Its a personal challenge

What’s your favorite part of the King of the Hammers?
The atmosphere

How do you physically and mentally prepare for this type of racing?
Strength conditioning of upper body. Mentally comes easy.

Teamwork is a big part of KOH, Tell us about your team for the King of the Hammers?
Were just a bunch of blue collar wheelers who are excited to be part of the event.

How much does strategy play a part in KOH?
I think fuel strategy may be a factor, Honestly I don’t have enough experience to know.

What will it take to win the King of the Hammers in 2012?
A highly tuned car, in both drive train and suspension that has had excellent prep work done.

How much does a car vs. a drivers ability play into winning the King of the Hammers?
90% driver 10% car

If you had the opportunity to participate in any race in the world, what would it be and why?
Baja 1000.  Its the ultimate test of man and machine

Who is your racing idol and why?
Shannon Campbell. Hes been around since I started wheeling and always drives for broke.

If you had an unlimited budget what would you build to compete in the King of the Hammers?
Id have Randy Slawson build me a car.

Do you have any advise to give someone who is aspiring to race the King of the Hammers?
Volunteer at races. Network with racers and others in the industry. Prepare your bank account.

Can you tell us about the sponsors and people that have made it possible for you to do this?

From the start Griffin radiator, Raceline, Masterpull and FOA have helped me tremendously. Thankfully I have teamed up with Superior axle and gear and Blue Torch Fab this year to revamp my car for the 2012 effort. I also need to thank 12V guy and Longfield for additional help. Without their help there’s no way i could be competing. Thanks guys!

The Facts Joe Bunker #864

Co-Driver name: Chad Krebs
Team Name: Average Joe Racing
Age: 41
Hometown: Monroe Washington.
Chassis Builder:  Keith Northrup
Engine:  5.0 ford
Transmission:  C6
T-case: Atlas 2 Speed
Axles F/R:    HP60 front, LP 60 Rear
Lockers: F/R  ARB front Spool rear
Seats: PRP
Shocks: FOA, Bilstein, Sway a way
Tires: Pitbull rockers   Wheels: Raceline

About the Author

Jeff Knoll is the former Event Director for the King of the Hammers event. He has raced various classes in SCORE, BITD, MORE, and MDR. Following the California 200, Knoll travelled to Washington, DC to meet with BLM officials regarding the Special Recreation Permit policies of the BLM. Knoll serves on the BLM’s Desert Advisory Sub-Committee regarding Special Recreation Permits. Knoll also drafted language for Nevada’s Senate Bill 156 in 2011 regarding action sports safety.

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