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Spotlight on Greg Lundgreen.

Photos provided by Greg Lundgreen.

 

The King of the Hammers continues to inspire recreational off-roaders to take on the biggest challenge in the sport. They come from across the country, and the globe for a chance to test their merit against a collection of the most difficult trails in the USA. Colorado has long rated a destination fro the Jeep enthusiast. It is no wonder a large collection of the top names in the sport make the state their home. Greg Lundgreen from Broomfield Colorado represents a growing demographic that has accepted the challenge of KOH, and measures his success on his own terms. Finishing his first full season in the Ultra4 series, Greg will look to KOH again this year after missing advancement from the LCQ by only minutes in 2011.  The focus the media of KOH may be on the stars of the sport, but for the countless participants chasing the dream, and creating their own memories the spirit of the race might just be the attraction. Hopefully we never lose sight of where it all started.

How long have you been competing in Ultra 4 Racing?

My first Ultra 4 race was the 2011 KOH LCQ.   And I have since competed in the American Rock Sports Challenge, as well as the Ultra 4 Grand Prix.

 

How long have you been racing?

This is my first true season of any kind of motorsports racing, though I have been driving off road recreationally, as well as assisting other race teams for several years now.

 

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

In my first LCQ attempt, I unfortunately missed qualification by mere seconds due to some mechanical issues in the short but brutal course.  I did better at the other two races, but suffered mechanical issues there as well in the course of trying to work out the bugs of a new race car.  I have had steady improvement, and I feel much more confident at positive outcomes the more races I get under my belt.

 

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

It is just AMAZING!  To think that this large amount of people can gather together, create a functioning town out of nothing, all to watch and participate in one of the most difficult one day races in the world is something that ignites passion, and once it gets into your blood, it remains.  Being that my roots are in recreational roc crawling, the idea that there are hardcore rock trails is another appeal to me, and sets it apart from the much more long standing desert racing series.

 

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

The people.  This is a very tight knit family of people who may not know each other, but share this common passion, and if you get into trouble, a complete stranger may offer you the shirt of their back to help you succeed, fellow competitor or not.  There is almost no ill will on that lake bed for KOH.

 

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

     Not very well.  It is something that I am really trying to focus on for the 2012 season.  Stamina is key, and I underestimated how hard it can be on you both physically and mentally, when all you are really doing is sitting in a comfortable chair, but it’s not couch surfing that is for sure.  I am starting a weight and cardio regimen, on top of getting the care into tip top shape.

 

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

     My team is a huge reason I am even able to compete with some of the racers out there.  It seems a bit like herding cats in the weeks prior to the race, and the number of guys I will have helping me seems to vary wildly, but somehow, everyone pulls together and I get a ton of support from them all.  They are purely made up of friends and family, though this year, I am planning on combining resources with a couple of other race teams to strengthen that support.

 

How much does strategy play a part in KOH?

     I think it is a lot of preparation, pre-running, car preparation, et cetera.  The fact is that once you hit the course, one small thing could throw all of your strategy out of the window.  My main strategy, however, is to remember this is an endurance race, not a sprint.  It is a race of attrition, so I try to find a nice pace to preserve the car, and let the others overdrive and make mistakes before I do.

 

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

Preparation, smart driving, and a whole lot of luck.

 

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

     I think it is a little of both.  You see a lot of high dollar cars not make it very far into the race because of mechanical failure, or being over driven.  Whereas, there are some lower dollar F-toys, still on leaf springs that make it across the line year after year.  Then you have Shannon Campbell, who seems to have the trifecta of car, skill, and luck, which seems to have brought him a lot of success.  And he has a huge amount of support as well.  That doesn’t hurt.

 

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

     For me, I think it would be to get into the main race at KOH, and finish.  In a magical world, I always thought it would be such an amazing life experience to race in the Dakar, before it went to South America.  It would just be such a culture shock on top of an amazing race.  Of course the Baja 1000 has to be on that list as well as some of the other BITD and SCORE races, Vegas to Reno, and Mint 400 immediately come to mind, just for their iconic nature, and because whether us rock racers want to admit it or not, they are our roots in off road racing.

 

Who is your racing idol and why?

That’s a tough one.  Shannon Campbell deserves mention for sure, just for being such a front runner from rock crawling days, into rock racing, and now Ultra 4, he’s seen it all.  Truly, I think Loren Healy is probably my biggest idol in Ultra 4, having known him before he was “King”, rock crawling with him, his friendly, down to earth nature has not changed through his notoriety, he is super humble and a genuinely good guy, but when he straps his helmet on, lookout.  JT Taylor is one as well, for the exact same reasons as Loren.  I am sure there are many I am forgetting, I really idolize anyone that has the same passion and drive to do what we do, whether I know them or not, because now I am getting a real sense of how the passion drives you, and how hard it is to focus on any sort of “real life” after you catch the bug.

 

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

     I honestly like my car.  I would upgrade some components here and there, but I am a holdout on the IFS revolution, I trust and know solid axle designs. I would build a stronger motor though.  Can I include toter-homes and chase trucks in that budget???  I need a nice place to eat and sleep out there.  That wind can get so crazy.

 

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

     Don’t get caught in the new car hype, if you have a budget, make it happen within that, and progress as you can.  As I said before, you can’t just throw money at a car and expect to win, and there are a lot more costs than the car to consider.  Be happy to just be there, and embrace it.  Keep the passion and faith.  Your time will come.

 

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

Being a rookie, and not much of a self-promoter, I working to improve my sponsor list all the time.  I have financed a lot of this project myself so far.  As it stands, Nick Sessions at Xtreme Engineering has helped me out immensely.  He is one guy who has truly made this all possible.  Cornay Driveshafts has been great to deal with. Devoir racing has recently come into the fray with some sweet apparel.  Slee offroad has helped a lot in both work, and allowing their lead mechanic to be my co-driver.

 

The Facts Gregory Lundeen #701

Driver name: Gregory Lundeen

Co-Driver Name:  Joe Risavi

Team Name Car #:  Rogue Rock Racing  #701

Age:  35

Hometown:  Broomfield, CO

Chassis Builder:  Nick Sessions / Xtreme Engineering

Engine: GMPP Chevy LS2

Transmission:  TH400

T-case: Atlas 4-speed

Axles F/R:  Front Spidertrax 9” / Rear Hi-Pinion Dana 60

Lockers F/R:  ARB / Spool

Seats:  Mastercraft

Shocks:  Sway-A-Way Race Runner bypasses and coilovers

Tires: BFG Krawler KX

Wheels:  KMC Enduro Beadlock

 

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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