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Rick Mooneyham in the Spotlight

Brutal honesty. The discussion was not something comfortable, following the release of the first King of the Hammers movie. EZ Rick Mooneyham was not happy that his third place finish was not given more attention in the film. His argument was good, and he spoke with conviction. He picked up the phone and spoke his mind. It was the beginning of my deep respect for the racer and the man. If you are looking for an honest opinion you will get it from Rick. My first impression of EZ Rick came from his online persona, Cocky, but 100% able to back up his statements, It rubbed some folks the wrong way but I loved reading his threads and looking at the insane pictures he would post from the trails in Arizona. Rick hails from a racing linage; his Grandfather is a pioneer in racing circles, and in Rocksports Rick is on track to walk the same path.

If Ultra4 racing see’s the same growth pattern that Stock car racing has seen, you very well may see EZ Rick as a team owner someday, a self made man like Rick Hendricks with a fleet of cars, and an amazing shop. There is no doubt EZ Rick knows what it takes to be on the podium, and he seems to carefully balance the need to win with his family and business. None remember second place, and third becomes a relic on a dusty shelf as a reminder of coming short. Rick can at least carry the reminder he was close enough to win it all three times.

This years King of the Hammers will be bigger, than any year past with a number of new cars, and injection of money into the sport that has not been seen before. After a disappointing finish in 2011 in a borrowed car Mooneyham will return to KOH in his best vehicle yet with his sights set on winning. With three years of experience finishing in the top 4 Mooneyham knows that he will have to be in the front when the green flag drops, and with this years new qualifying start positions you can bet some of the most brutal racing ever will take place at the front. A place EZ Rick is comfortable having finished as the first physical car in 2010. There are maybe a dozen drivers who can win the 2012 King of the Hammers, and Rick Mooneyham is firmly planted in that company of men.

What most don’t know about EZ Rick in the racing circles is his commitment to keeping recreational trail opportunities open. He is an active member of the OHV access community raising awareness, money,and lobbying directly to his local legislators. He is a role model for all Race teams, as a man who does not forget that recreation is the birthplace of our sport, and he is not afraid to be brutally honest with local leadership about his position of multiple use access. Long after the dust settles from the King of the Hammers, you can be assured that Rick Mooneyham will be doing his part to keep our trails open, a position far great than first place on the track.

How long have you been competing in Ultra 4 Racing? 

I received an invite to the first KOH from Dave Cole, but due to prior obligations was not able to attend. That was the year of the OG-13. I loved the idea of the race and it was something I knew I wanted to do. When I was invited in 2008 I jumped at the opportunity to participate. We didn’t really know what to expect, but had a great time and ended up finishing 3rd behind Shannon Campbell and Casey Currie.
How long have you been racing?

I started off by competing in W.E. Rock with Scott Ward in 2007 and 2008. After running our first KOH we decided that was where we wanted to put our focus.

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

In the first and second year I competed in KOH we had 3rd place finishes after extensive breakdown time. The third year resulted in a 4th place finish. For 2011 I sold my race car a couple months before the race and was unable to complete the new car in time for the race. As a result, I used a borrowed car that was neither built for nor intended to race. It was fired for the first time during race week and had many, many bugs that needed to be worked out. After a very long and challenging day we ended up finishing 25th in the dark. A highlight of that day would be when Scott Ward ran all the way from Backdoor to Main Pitt to get replacement axles and tools. He then ran back to Backdoor and assisted with the repair of the car—serious team commitment there!

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

I like the idea of combining desert racing with rock crawling. Only a few years ago I remember a frequent campfire debate over how a car can only be good at one or the other, not both. I believe we are proving that theory wrong now.  I also enjoy being an underdog and beating the big names, that holds a special place in my heart for sure!

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

Competition and camaraderie.  I have made countless life long friends and connections while competing in Ultra4, and would not trade that for anything.

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

Eat a little less, sleep a little less, stress a little more, and work a lot more!  Hasn’t panned out yet, but its all I’ve got.

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

Our team is comprised of friends and family that have participated on a voluntary basis for years now. They are critical in providing support when anything goes wrong. I count on them for anything and everything, and they all truly believe we have what it takes to win if luck ever joins our effort.  Having Brian in the co-pilot seat is also a great asset. Aside from him providing great directions and having the ability to help with repairs, he is non-stop entertainment.

 How much does strategy play a part in KOH?

Our first year we didn’t really know what to expect and didn’t have a strategy. The second year the strategy was to go all out the entire race and the results were the similar due to breakage. The third year we decided to take it easy and not push the car too hard. That strategy didn’t pan out and actually lost us a place, again due to breakage. This year we will be racing balls-out from start to finish with parts that we believe can take it!

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

It will involve keeping the car together, which should be easier with the parts we are now running, and a whole bunch of luck!

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

No matter how awesome the car is, if the driver does not have the mental and physical stamina, they will not do well. When traveling at high speeds it takes a level of skill and focus to remain in control and avoid wadding the car up. There is also a lot of skill involved in picking the right lines in the rock sections. Being able to do that well and quickly takes practice, being able go all out for 6 hours straight, takes heart.  You can’t buy heart.

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

I would love to be able to run a Class 11 in the Baja 1000. I think that race would be epic!

Who is your racing idol and why?

Shannon Campbell for his humility, with which he shadows his ability and drive.

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

I am happy with my new car and at this time cannot imagine a better-suited rig for nasty rock trails and mild desert racing.

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

Have a large disposable income, and lots of great friends willing to donate loads of time and their own money. Then find a good friend that can read a GPS, fix anything, and doesn’t mind getting pummeled for hours on end who will ride with you more than once!

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

We are going into our second year with Goodyear putting the shoes on our car. They make a great tire that can stand up to the abuse we put them through. JH Sims Trucking has been instrumental in helping get us to the races for years now and we really appreciate their help. PSC Has worked with us to develop products that can keep up with our steering needs and they are great to work with. Sway-A-Way has made the ride a lot more cushy. Currie Enterprises is also a huge asset with their high quality housings and swaybar set-ups. Turn Key Engine Supply gives us the ponies needed, and sometimes a couple too many.

Many thanks to our friends and families for all their time and support. My wife for bypassing a new kitchen each year we build a new car. Buggy Bruce for being in our hearts and reminding us of the joys of life, and to live each day as if it were your last!  Heartfelt thanks to Dave Cole and Jeff Knoll for their foresight and conviction in developing the Beast that is KOH.  And the biggest thanks of all to the volunteers who make the event possible for us all!

The facts Rick Mooneyham #554

Driver name:                  Rick Mooneyham

Co-Driver Name:                        Brian Smith

Team Name                   Trick Toys Fabrication Racing

Car #                            554

Age:                              36

Hometown:                    Lake Havasu City, AZ

Chassis Builder:             Trick Toys Fabrication

Engine:                          Turn Key LS3 427

Transmission:                TH400

 T-case:                        Atlas 2

Axles F/R:                     Currie HB 60, Super-14

Lockers F/R:                  ARB

Seats:                           Mastercraft 3G

Shocks:                                     Sway-A-Way C/O & Bypasses

Tires:                                        Goodyear 40” MTR

Wheels:                         Raceline Wheels Monster

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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