Ford Bronco Racer Burns Just Before King of the Hammers, and the Race to Rebuild Is On

The race team has less than two weeks to get this torched Bronco back into shape.

byCaleb Jacobs| PUBLISHED Jan 23, 2023 6:00 PM
Ford Bronco Racer Burns Just Before King of the Hammers, and the Race to Rebuild Is On
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There's never a good time for your race car to catch fire, but less than two weeks before the year's biggest event is particularly rough. Kracker Fab Motorsports is dealing with exactly that problem as it preps for King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley, California, on Feb. 2. The shop's handsomely built Ford Bronco with extreme weight reduction and portal front axles was nearly done when a spark turned into something more last Friday. Now the shop is working to repair it in no-time flat.

A load of wiring work on the Ford Bronco was just completed, and the interior was taking shape before the incident.

"It seems a spark got past the welding blanket and smoldered in the seat for 10-15 minutes, and when I left the shop to run to our other shop next door it ignited," Josh Atteberry from Kracker Fab told to me over direct message. "Thankfully my co-driver Jack showed up right after I left and walked into it fully involved and was able to open the garage doors and put it out with a hose."

The damage was largely limited to the Bronco's cabin, and neither of the PRP seats lived to tell the tale. Much of the dashboard plastic was melted, as well as the center console, though the factory infotainment screen is still in working order—just don't mind the heat spot on the upper right-hand side. Impressively, the Rugged Radios unit underneath the touchscreen display came out unscathed.

Immediately after posting shots of the damage on social media, support from the off-road community poured in. The Rants family, who are fellow off-road racers, came up clutch with the necessary interior parts to get everything livable inside, and Atteberry's friends and family have already dove back into race prep mode. He posted Sunday that they'd wrapped up the underbody work with full belly skidplates made of aluminum that'll soon be covered in UHMW hard plastic. Those complement the rest of the build's desert-ready hardware, like a 14-bolt rear end modified by Ballistic Fab, a complete Performance Steering Components setup, 74Weld portal axles, and ADS Racing shocks.

"Looks like we will have most everything to replace the burnt items before Hammers," Atteberry said.

Kracker Fab hopes to have the Bronco ready to run in the 4600 class next Thursday. It'll be a busy 10 days or so leading up to that, but it could've been much worse. Let this serve as your reminder to be extra, extra careful when welding, cutting, or anything else—especially if the rig you're working on is this radical.

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