Author: Darlene Henke
King of the Hammers Lady Driver Bio for Darlene Henke
How do you know your Driver? Darren and I have been married for 17 years and have a amazingly cute and famous pitdog Phoebe.
How many times have you raced King of the Hammers? This will be our 5th year racing KOH, and unfortunately, we have never had a finish. We have come within 10 miles of the finish line the last two years in a row! Darren and I are ready to break the curse and get a finish in 2017 with the new car. In fact, the last two years we have hiked back to main pit - both times more than 3 miles each way and neither of us want to ever do that again. With the debut of our new car this year, it will be our 3rd Ultra4 race car - 1st one a solid axle, then 2 IFS cars.
How did you get into Ultra4 Racing? We got into Ultra4 racing because we used to own part of Crane Hi Clearance, and we sponsored teams racing with parts - knuckles, diff covers, etc. After we learned more about the sport and attended our first KOH as a vendor, we decided to build our own car and get into the action. A year after we built the first car, Darren sold his shares of Crane and has been racing full time ever since.
What has been your most exciting achievement in Ultra4 racing? My most excited achievement in Ultra4 racing is quite honestly, having and helping build the racing program we have in place today. Our team has raced not only KOH, but the West Coast Ultra4 series going on our 5th year. Although we have only been on the podium a handful of times, we have held a pretty solid record of finishing top 10 or 15 in the series, and have some of the best and most respectable sponsors out there. Our social media following is almost to 10,000 followers and I believe we are one of the more popular teams in Ultra4. There is not a time I get into the race car that I don't feel lucky that I get to do this with my husband. We truly create memories that we will never share with anyone else besides each other, and I feel fortunate that he likes and wants me to be in the car.
What does race prep look like in your world? Being the co-driver of our car, I am expected to be able to help the driver and be knowledgeable in the event the car breaks down, has a flat, or any other mechanical issue. I have learned and been taught to know how to trouble shoot problems on the car and work on critical parts. I am responsible for all the logistics of our team including their travel to and from the races, lodging, food, and overall well being. I am the primary contact for all of our sponsors, and I run the marketing, social media, and all finances for the team.
What are you looking forward to at this years King of the Hammers? This year at KOH I am excited about racing in our new car - it's like getting a new truck right before you are going on a long road trip. Our team will be featuring a brand new, first of it's kind, 2 seater IFS front engine car by Jimmy's 4x4. All the other Jimmy's cars are either single seater, mid or rear engine and this is truly a new design. We are super excited about it's debut, and really hope that we kill it during the race. I also really look forward to seeing all of our sponsors, all at once in one place, and being able to spend time with them in person during the days leading up to KOH.
What excites you about racing? In my everyday life, I am the CEO of an international logistics firm. What I love about racing is it pushes me to learn and do things that are far outside of my normal comfort zone. The first time I ever sat in the co-dog seat at our first race, I remember I cried in my helmet because I was so scared. It is such a great feeling now when we sit on the starting line, focused on the job that needs to be done, and I love the adrenaline rush once the race starts and ends - I have come so far since that first time. The best feeling in the world is to cross the checkered flag, and even better when your team is waiting for you excited to have you back because you had a good finish.
Tell us about the Team that Supports you. Our team is not very big. Darren is my husband, the driver, and the lead mechanic on the car. His responsibility is to breakdown, prep, and maintain the race car. We have one guy that is local to us in Colorado, Will, and he helps work on the car from time to time if we are behind or need an extra set of hands. Tommy is our other team member, based in Reno, and Tommy and Will attend the races with us. They are our pit support and crew and have been with us since the beginning. They are both like brothers to me.
Darlene Adds: I want to thank Dave Cole, the Ultra4 team, and all the volunteers that make the races possible. Whether we have a good finish or have a DNF, we are always grateful that we had the opportunity to race in the first place. Darren and I put everything we have into racing, we make a lot of personal sacrifices to make it work, and I have never worked harder at anything in my life to try and be successful at it. We have met some of our closest and dearest friends through racing and had some of the best and most memorable times of our lives doing it. If racing has taught me anything, its that if you don't push yourself and take chances, you might never know what you are really capable of.
Author: Darlene Henke