The King of the Hammers' Unsung Pickup

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By Mike Magda

Toyota pickup enthusiasts were euphoric after the Dakar Rally when a Hilux scored a podium finish. In fact, we counted 14 Hilux pickups, two Tacomas and one Tundra in the 156-vehicle car class, and seven of those Toyota pickups were among the 78 finishers.

But here's a story of another Toyota pickup that didn’t make the big headlines but is winning over almost as many fans on online.

Cody Addington, along with co-driver Justin Foxworthy, brought his 1980 Toyota pickup across the finish line of the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers race, but you'll see a DNF next to his name on the official results. Addington failed to meet the 14-hour deadline, but that didn't stop well-wishers from cheering him on in every canyon or from meeting the truck in the middle of the Mojave Desert at nearly midnight when the truck finally reached the finish.

If you've never heard of the King of the Hammers race, you're missing out on perhaps the world's most brutal one-day off-road event. KOH combines the precision and ruggedness of rock crawling with the speed of desert racing, and this year only 49 of 136 starters from seven countries finished the race.

Addington's journey starts with his street-legal pickup that he would drive to rock-crawling activities, including the Rubicon. When KOH organizers announced a companion race, called the Every Man Challenge, for stock and mildly modified vehicles, Addington entered and spent the next four months making the necessary safety upgrades and installing a set of 35-inch BFGoodrich tires.

The Every Man Challenge was held the Sunday before the KOH race in early February, and Addington finished eighth in class and 17th overall. "We had a shot at the top five but had some stupid issues in the first mile," he said.

Racers must qualify for the KOH final, and once Addington reached the Johnson Valley Off Highway Vehicle Area, he decided to enter the last chance qualifier. "I'd already prepped the truck, so why not?" he said.

Addington cleared the first major obstacle in the qualifier, but his truck stalled when dirt clogged the carburetor. He pulled the air cleaner, got the engine running again and finished the 3-mile qualifier but with a time not fast enough to make the final.

Then, in a stunning move, organizers allowed LCQ entrants to run in the KOH if they paid the fees. The one-time-only format change was used to raise money for land-use-protection efforts.

"I do all these things for fun. It's one of those things that may not be around forever, and there may not be another chance to get in," Addington explained. "We had the pit support. Everyone said go for it."

He had to pool money from vendors and friends, and he found a set of 39.5-inch IROK tires. Racing without a Parker Pumper, he had to work his way through a dust cloud created by 120 racers who started in front of him. The truck also lost the power steering 40 miles into the race, making the rocks that much tougher.

"Sometimes my arms were cramping so bad," Addington said. "I wasn't out of that car 15 minutes the entire 15 hours were on course."

Aside from a late-race fire under the hood caused by leftover power-steering fluid, there was little drama throughout race. Addington and Foxworthy maintained a slow but steady pace. They had no tire failures and even helped out another competitor.

Perhaps the team's most amazing feat was navigating the 165-mile course using only a map torn from the race program. Most other cars had GPS units with the racecourse preprogrammed into them. Also, seven hours into the race, Addington and Foxworthy's two-way radio with the pit crew failed.

"Mainly, it was not giving up," Addington said of the team's progress. "We knew we were over on time. We almost rolled twice coming down one trail the first time. It was like getting back on the horse again. We were going to prove ourselves."

Race organizers met the team afterward and, to Cody’s surprise, they gave him a "Merit" exemption that automatically qualifies him for the 2013 KOH race. He's already been contacted to drive for another team, but he plans to build up his Toyota to run faster in the desert.

"I think I can prove it can be done again," he promises.

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Never give up. Whether I like your brand or not, I am always for a guy that won't quit. Good luck next year.

Those little toyotas never quit

Magnificent sir. Best of luck to you in the future.

Kudos. Great efford.

My bad, meant effort.

Efford? Was that a Freudian slip? LOL

Those videos are about as exciting as a 7th inning stretch.

Where ya at Oxi?

OXI is never suprised of what a Toyota pickup can do!

From the only pickup to make it to the North Pole, the first to cross Antarctica, desert off-road racing, Dakar, tuff-trucks, short course off-road racing, Pike's Peak hill climb, used as military vehicles by armed forces including the U.S., involved in countles peacekeeping and relif operations with the UN and on and on...

I have added to this legacy by competing in desert races with my street legal 1986 Toyota complete with plates on her during races...

Also competing with my 2005 with Milwaukee Region SCCA and running on road courses where other pickups dare not attend...

Toyota has always been one tuff little pickup!

Let's not forget last year's overall winner drove a IFS buggy proving that an IFS can win in this arena and proving straight axle was no longer needed to win in tight, rock-crawl environment...

Just ask the military about straight axles...

my 1980 20R toyota truck still goin strong at 275,000. tough simple trucks

Many people may look back and say "I could have done that". But who and where were they when it counted. You have proven that you have the heart and attitude it takes to be a winner. Good job Cody and Justin. Full body or not I support your racing future.
P.S. Toyotas rule

@Mike Magda. I notice a Ben Napier from Sydney, Australia was 2nd in the point standings. Never heard of him but a good effort.

@Keith let us not bring Cricket into this LOL

Finishing is very impressive. I'm curious what engine he was running. Even with a Marlin double t-case I can't imagine the stock 4-banger even turning 39.5" IROK's. I'm also curious what axles he was running to be able to turn tires that big

From Pirate 4x4 truck specs:

"People keep asking about truck specs so here it goes. Its a beat 1980 toyota pickup with god knows how many miles. Its a carbeureted 22r block and 20r head. Stock rear axle with a detroit and 5:29 gear. Rock assault front with 6 shooter knuckles, trunion eliminator, ARB, bobby long axles and hub gears. It has 44044 front spings and chevy rears and fox remote reservoir shock. Weld on beadlocks and 39.5'' Iroks."

Great job Cody. Love those Rock Assaults! Time to upgrade the rear. I know someone that can help out. Ha! Thanks for representing the Toyota community in a positive way. You rock!

Great Job Cody.
My 1995 has 270.000 on , most out in the boonies and still doing great.
Good luck for next year !

Toyota rulz.

More balls than brains! : ) BEST times I ever had was motorcycle racing AMA and WERA with my lil brother and buddy Paul. We never had much $$$ to spend, so we kept it simple, learned to ride hard, and I never got tired of hearing, "how'd you beat me with that piece-o-crap", and "you must have steel balls." You keep it up! Racing makes for great stories, great memories, shows you you can do much more than you thought your could, and lets you know you are alive!!! Keep on truckin' & racing!!!

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