Spotlight on Fabio Manno

The King of the Hammers has become an international phenomenon in just 5 years with race teams from around the globe traveling to Hammertown to experience Rocksports biggest event. Today we look at a competitor from Rome Italy who experienced his first KOH with little preparation, and learned enough to give it a second chance. The brutal event means something different for everyone, but this soft spoken gentleman who splits his time in Hawaii will be back in 2012 looking at beating the desert, and worry little about where he finishes, as long as he finds a checkered flag and his wife waiting at the end of the adventure. It is a true testament to how infectious off-road racing is that Fabio Manno finds himself in what some consider one of the most inhospitable places on the planet, by choice looking to achieve his goal of finishing a very tough race. The memories we make seem to be all Fabio Manno needs to feel he has won, and the friendships that know no borders are the ultimate prize.

How long have you been competing in Ultra 4 Racing? 
  I started with koh 2011

 How long have you been racing?

Years ago in Hawaii, then Italy. totally only 4 

Tell us about your past experiences in the King of the Hammers and where you have finished?

My first experience in the koh 2011 was a nightmare. We moved from Italy , where I built my ultra4 car, and you dont want to know how many problems I went through:all kind. Even my engine was lost within USA for 61 days from UPS.
We moved back here in Hawaii (my wife is from Hawaii) and I spent the 2 months before the race to get my car running and ready. Then we shipped the car to CA.   Never driven before in the desert, neither driven my car.  Everything was brand new, myself included. we tried to tuning the shocks with KING, but the tranny broke 48 hours before the race. almost giving up, thanks to my wife Laura, big supporter, we asked help from Shannon and Nick. Few hours later the new tranny from Hughes was @ hammertown. We were ready the day of the big race , but not prerun, we started blind.
I don’t even remember where I drove.  We accomplished the first lap, then the second one almost and still within the race time. 14 miles before the end, we lost the mid slip of the rear driveshaft and 2 miles later we had to stop. Last October I went back in JV just as tourist with my friend, and he was pointing some spots where we drove. I told him that was impossible. I guess wasn’t instead.
 I came back home, tired , disappointed with myself for not having spare parts and experience, lost weight and broken, I took almost 3 weeks to recovery mainly mentally and try to remember what happened. moral of the story: I told myself: yes I would do it again. well, I see you in February @koh 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. this race is outstanding!!

What’s the attraction to racing of King of the Hammers for you?

I consider a challenge between myself and the car I built from scratch with no experiences. I see lot of pro’s having problems more than me.

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

I think rocks, because I feel my car going through easy, instead the speed portion makes me uncomfortable for lack of practice, experience and because my car doesn’t allow me to go fast. I built it more for rocks , I believe

How do you physically and mentally prepare for this type of racing?

Physically I have no problems (at least last year). now I am one year older, so , I might change. I train almost everyday @ the gym , jogging, bicycle, good conditioning, good nutrition. Mentally, I know I will never win. I want to finish, and try to keep my car together. I want to be able to finish in any position.  then I can die happy, ahaahahahhah

 Teamwork is a big part of KOH, Tell us about your team for the King of the Hammers?

Laura contacted Outdoor logic in Riverside California, they have a fab shop and experience becase Red bull pit crew years ago. They are all gentleman and experienced fabricators and racers, I felt safe with their help and organization. This year we are a big family again. My wife Laura and her brother Paul, priceless help from them. Some Italians came by to the tent and helped us allot. Teamwork is the foundation of the race, I believe.

 How much does strategy play a part in KOH?

I have no experience, I have no strategy. I wouldn’t attempt to  do “back door” and go upside down and destroy my car. I used the winch, like I said , my only strategy is save the car and finish.

What will it take to win the King of the Hammers in 2012?

Move in CA, close to JV, having 2 cars, driving everyday, having a team available every day that take care of my rig and fix it, lot of good and generous sponsors, being single, and being millionaire. This dream won t came through, ahaahahhhha

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

Easy answer: Give me Shannon’s car, I will never win. Give him my car he might arrive within the top 10.

If you had the opportunity to participate in any race in the world, what would it be and why?

I would try the all ultra4 circuit first. I think is a completed races
Who is your racing idol and why?
Shannon Campbell.because besides his driving skills , he has a great fabricator and gentleman too.

 If you had an unlimited budget what would you build to compete in the King of the Hammers?

I would built another car similar to mine, but this time I would re-address the all mistakes I made.for instance more room , an easy dis-installment, and better suspension geometry speed wise. then as third car I would try to built an IFS. this is another dream won t go through.

 Do you have any advise to give someone who is aspiring to race the King of the Hammers?

Don’t be like me,  don t go @ JV 5 days before the event. be prepared for everything.

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

The first year we had very few sponsors, but was still something. this koh 2012 we are having more supporters, as again Maui Offroad from Hawaii which is my codriver too,again.  Outdoor Logic from Riverside the best pit crew with an unreal fab shop, then FK rodends,YUKON, HUGHES Performance, HILO WEB from Hawaii,again TRAIL GEAR, PSC,CRAWL magazine, and maybe more. thanks to our fans on fb TEAM FAB-10 OFFROAD ITALY with almost 3300 friends. the biggest help is from LAURA, my sweet wife, which organize everything and made and  makes koh you.

The Facts Fabio Manno #100 Fab-10 racing

Co-Driver Name: Jeff Bergemann
Age:  51         Hometown:  Rome / ITALY
Chassis Builder:  fab-10     Engine: ls2 turnkey
Transmission:  Hughes th 400   T-case:   atlas 4 speed
Axles F/R:  Dynatrac pro 60   / ruffstuff solid 14
Lockers F/R:  arb   / grizzly Yukon
Seats:    Mastercraft         Shocks:  kings
Tires:     bfg crawler/ krt   Wheels:  Walker Evans

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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