Saturday, May 31, 2008


Chad Hall has won the Stock-Full production Class in the 40th Annual Tecate/SCORE Baja 500. The Rod Hall Racing/Team HUMMER #862 H3 Alpha SUV beat all the production vehicles to the finish in front of the historic Riveria del Pacifico Convention Center in downtown Ensenada. Chad spent just over thirteen hours on the course and his time was faster than all the Class 8 trucks, (modified production trucks), a feat not often accomplished. This is the second win of the year in the SCORE series for the H3 Alpha and extends Chad's lead for the year-end points championship.

Mike Winkel is currently in the lead in the #760 H3 Stock-Mini Truck at RM 410 and running well.  


To say that it is a challenging proposition to locate a spot in this town to blog, uninterrupted, would be a huge understatement, at best. Long story short, after taking a break for dinner, I returned to the quiet hotel lobby I had been working from, to find a huge crowd and no place to set-up. After an exhaustive search, I managed to locate a bar with a wireless connection fast enough to be useful, a plug for my charger and a place to sit...directly opposite the band, which sounded like rejects from an early audition of American Idol, only louder! Anyway here we are and much has changed since my last post.

Chad Hall is currently at RM 402 in the #862 Team HUMMER H3 Alpha having increased his lead over the second place # 860 Ford F-350 Pickup to more than 100 miles. According to reports I received from the crew, the alpha gradually added to the 40+ mile lead he had at RM 200 when the Ford was forced to stop to repair the power train somewhere short of RM 300. At last report, #860 was at RM 307. 

Mike Winkel drove the #760 H3 SUV right by the #779 Honda Ridgeline while they were stopped in BFG Pit #3 apparently fixing a broken trailing arm. The H3 was is currently at race-mile 385 and the second place Honda still at RM 305. 


Rod Hall pulled into BFG Pit #2 at race-mile 206 15 miles behind Gavin Skilton in the #779 Honda Ridgeline. The crew discovered that the #760 Team HUMMER H3 SUV had suffered a broken front sway bar. Normally, a broken sway bar does not pose much of a problem when racing off-road so driver Mike Winkel and navigator Jake Povey got the H3 SUV back in the race without replacing the broken unit after taking on a load of fuel. Mike felt confident that he could reel the Honda in with 250 miles left to go, so it looks like Winkel and the H3 have a race on their hands.

On a sour note, the H2 SUT was determined to have suffered internal engine damage at RM 195 and was retired from the race. Josh Hall was obviously disappointed after the time and effort the crew had put in getting ready for the race only to have to retire the truck while in the lead. "I'm going to San Felipe for a big steak and a beer but I'll be back next year to win this one". I think it's more likely that he will grab a taco at a roadside stand and head over to help his father win the Stock-Mini Class.

It looks like a long night for Team HUMMER but the Baja 500 is always the most grueling race of the year.


The #861 Team HUMMER H2 SUT has had some sort of electrical problem at race-mile 195 and is driving out to highway 5 to rendezvous with chase vehicles. I am waiting to hear exactly what the problem is and will pass that info on as soon as I know more, Meanwhile, Chad Hall in the #862 H3 Alpha has taken over the lead and has just passed through Pit #2 at RM 206 with a 30 mile lead on John Griffin in the #860 Ford F-350. Griffin is making up time on the leader, however, but there's still a lot of racing left to the finish. Conditions on the course are dry, dusty and tough putting a lot of entries on the trailer early in the race. 

Rod Hall is about 15 miles back in the #760 Team HUMMER H3 SUV. Hall currently has a 52 mile lead on the #762 Toyota FJ and is running very well. Unfortunately, the trucks are in a very desolate area and no-one seems to know where the Honda Ridgeline is because his tracking device is not functioning. So Rod is in first or second but, either way, it's a close race. Just how close will soon be revealed as they are about to pass through BFG Pit #2.

More news as it develops...   


As of 1:06 PM, Josh Hall, in the #861 H2 SUT, continues to hold on to the lead in the Stock-Full Class by 3 miles over his brother, Chad in the #862 H3 Alpha. Josh is at race-mile 93 and Chad is just leaving the BFG Pit at RM 90.

Gavin Skilton's #779 Honda Ridgeline  leads Rod Hall, in the #760 H3 SUV by two miles as they pass the road crossing at RM 84, Kevin Necessary in #762 follows in third spot about 6 miles behind Hall. Kevin drives a Toyota FJ Cruiser and and is from New Zealand.


The 40th Annual Tecate/SCORE Baja 500 started for Team HUMMER when Josh Hall took the green flag at 10:23:30 this morning at the wheel of the #861 Team HUMMER H2 SUT with Chief mechanic, Sam Cothrun in the Navigator's seat. Along for the ride, in the third (media) seat is Mike Levine from Josh started first in the Stock-Full Class (stock,full sized trucks) followed 15 seconds later by his younger brother Chad, driving the #862 Team Hummer H3 Alpha, the current Stock-Full points leader. Riding with Chad until BFG Pit (RM 95) is Jonathon Ramsey of Autoblog. 

Taking the start in the Stock-Mini Class at 10:25 AM is Team Owner, Rod Hall driving the #760 Team HUMMER H3 SUV. Rod has been Stock-Mini Class champion for the past two years and is way out in front in the race for his third consecutive class points championship, having won the first two races on the SCORE racing schedule. Veteran navigator, John Chapman is riding in the second seat with Rod.

The competition is tough for all three Team HUMMER vehicles at this year's Baja 500. In Stock-Full, John Griffin and Jeremy Spirkoff are only a few points behind Chad Hall in the H3 Alpha with their #860 Ford F-350 Pickup. Another truck to watch is Kent Kroeker in the #864 Dodge Ram Pickup. The Dodge is very fast but has suffered some problems in the recent past, however that can change at  any time because Kroeker runs a quality racing effort. Gavin Skilton is back with his newly constructed #779 Honda Ridgeline in the Stock-Mini Class and the truck looks like it could be a contender. Steve Kovach, in the #761 Ford Ranger has been around for a long time and is always a tough competitor.

That's how it shapes up for Team HUMMER at the start. As the team reports back to me in Ensenada, I'll bring you updates as they become available... 

Friday, May 30, 2008


Pre-race festivities are in full swing in downtown Ensenada for the 40th Annual Tecate/SCORE Baja 500. Various crew members will guide the trucks through the tech line while Rod Hall and sons, Josh and Chad, attend this morning's press conference at the Riviera Del Pacifico Cultural Center, in Downtown Ensenada. The race will start directly in front of the Cultural Center in the morning but for now, all the attention is focused on the loud, pulsating motors of the race machines as they combine with the ear-piercing assault of disco music pumped out of gigantic speaker towers. As you try to force yourself against wave after wave of people moving against you like the offensive line of the New York Giants, an amplified voice from a stage filled with scantilly clad Tecate Girls surrounded by 20 foot tall blow-up beer cans bids you, "Welcome to Baja!"
Although the tech and contingency line is a part of the pre-race activities at each event, nowhere does the local community greet the process as enthusiastically as they do in Mexico. Even the schools close so the children have the opportunity to take part in the Baja Fiesta. The actual purpose of the tech and contingency line is to check your vehicle to make sure you are in compliance with all the safety rules and that you actually use all the products that the series sponsors require you to have on your vehicle when the race begins. I'm not certain that the local population knows or cares what the reason for the inspection line might be, they just seem to want to have a good time and and add to their sticker collection while enjoying a day in town with their friends and family. The economy may be sluggish and the price of gas is a burden on everyone, but you would never know such problems exist during race week in Baja. They truly love off-road racing in Mexico. 

And the party won't stop after the tech line closes. In the morning, the locals will line the race course by the thousands, creating a human wall on each side of the course as vehicles of every type and description hurdle past them, some at speeds well in excess of 120 mph. Some will try a touch the big trucks as they speed by in a demonstration of bravado only the locals seem to understand. There are just no greater fans in all the world than there are in Mexico and for our part, there's no experience quite like racing in the deserts of Baja...



In a sport where a dozen major wins can define a successful racing career, no one even comes close to Rod H[Photo]all. Ten-time winner of the internationally recognized Mint 400, ten-time winner of the Parker 400, 12-time winner of the Fireworks 250, 17-time winner of the Baja 500 and the only 19-time winner of the Baja 1000. Over the course of his racing career, Hall has won 16 major class points championships in production 4-Wheel Drive vehicles and well over 160 major events. While many of these records may never be equaled, it is also unlikely that anyone will break his record of 37 consecutive race victories anytime soon.

The defending 2006-07 SCORE Mini-Stock Points Champion, Rod Hall has come to the 40th Annual Tecate/SCORE Baja 500 tied with Ivan “Ironman” Stewart for the most Baja 500 class wins at 17. When the dust settles, after this year’s event, the 70 year-old Hall hopes to stand alone as the only 18-time champion by winning the Baja 500 for the third consecutive year. “I won this race for the first time in 1970, when NORRA was putting it on,” said Hall. “Jim Fricker was my co-driver in those days and I was driving for Bill Stroppe in a Bronco. The next year we won in a factory backed Ford Maverick and I beat all the buggies.”

From 1970-1993 Hall won the Baja 500 fourteen times, mostly in a 4WD Dodge truck. In late 1993, Rod Hall Racing teamed up with HUMMER and the big 6.5-liter diesel powered Full-Stock 4WD Pickup won the race in 1994 giving Hall Baja 500 win number fifteen. His new HUMMER dealership in Reno and other business commitments caused Hall to limit the team’s racing in Mexico to one yearly appearance at the Baja 1000, so Team HUMMER sat out the Baja 500 for the next ten years. When Rod Hall Racing and Team HUMMER rejoined the SCORE Desert Series in 2006, Hall won back-to-back Baja 500 titles in the Mini-Stock Class with his son, six-time Baja 1000 winner, Chad Hall along as co-driver in the new H3 Team HUMMER SUV. Currently, Chad drives an H3 Alpha in the Full-Stock Class and Rod’s oldest son and four-time Baja 1000 winner, Josh Hall drives an H2 SUT, also in the Full-Stock Class.

With 19 Baja 1000 wins and 17 Baja 500 wins, Rod Hall had this to say about his unprecedented success in Baja and his plans for the future: “I think the reason for my success in Mexico is that I know it’s a long race, I understand how much the truck will take and I don’t make mistakes. I’m not fast but I just keep moving and I don’t have to stop and work on my truck. As for the future, my goals for 2008 are to win another championship, the True Grit Award and become the winningest driver in Baja 500 history. Can I do that? Well, probably not but you have to have goals and those are my goals for this year. In 2009 I want to have the option to drive when I want or just be a team owner and chase my team around the desert. I just want to pick and choose and not be as obligated to get behind the wheel as I am now. I want to keep racing but change my focus a bit and maybe go down and help Sal look for new trails or contribute in some way, but I’m going to stay totally involved because this is my life.”

And a great life it is for the legendary Rod Hall; ‘The King of Baja’…

posted on 5/21 by George R. Thompson

Photo by John Pappenfort
Labels: RH Baja 500

Monday, May 26, 2008


George Thompson has been a part of Rod Hall Racing for almost twenty years. For most of that time he has done our newsletters, press releases and race reports. He will be covering the upcoming Tecate/SCORE Baja 500 on the Rod Hall Racing Blog beginning Friday, May 30 and will post updates throught the race.

George’s active roots in racing go back to the mid-sixties when he became involved in drag racing and later, drove his Porsche 356A in SCCA races at the old Riverside International Raceway. In the mid-seventies off-road racing caught his interest and he started attending races in Mexico and Nevada, helping friends with their racing programs. In 1982 he joined the Checkers Off-Road Racing Team at the suggestion of his friend, Hall of Fame inductee, Scott McKenzie, who sponsored his membership into the club. Soon after joining, he built a Class 1600 buggy, which he raced with partner, John Brooks in HDRA and SCORE races. Brooks-Thompson Racing had success at finishing desert races, including both the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 and took a 4th in class at the SCORE Off-Road World Championships in 1985.

From 1987-1994, George served as the administrator of the Competition Review Board (CRB), which heard and ruled on driver protests after each SCORE and HDRA event. He authored a Format and Guidelines for the operation of the CRB and assembled a group of racers to serve on the board after each race. Although he retired as administrator after 1994, the CRB is still in operation today basically unchanged from his original concept.

In 1989, George founded Sunrise Consulting, a company that specializes in motorsports management and communications for off-road racing teams. He has worked with a number of well-known companies and teams in the past 20 years, including Rod Hall Racing. In 1993, when HUMMER and Rod Hall Racing first joined forces to go off-road racing, AM General wanted TV exposure at the Baja 1000. Unfortunately, SCORE had a problem coming to an agreement with any TV production companies to cover the race. George obtained the TV rights from Sal Fish, CEO of SCORE International and made an agreement with Producer Jerry Garrett to co-produce the coverage for the 1993 Baja 1000 which was aired on ESPN. The event turned out to be a very successful off-road racing debut for Team HUMMER, as Rod and Chad Hall finished first and second in the Stock-Full Class.

George has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in Reno, Nevada since 2002. He has written many articles on off-road racing and has participated in Baja racing in one way or another since the mid-seventies. Given his background and experience with the team, it would be hard to imagine a more qualified guide to serve as the voice of Rod Hall Racing on race weekend...

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Rod Hall seeks record breaking 18th victory

DETROIT – HUMMER off-road racing teams bring their winning traditions to the Baja peninsula once again as Rod Hall Racing’s Team HUMMER and Robby Gordon Off-Road prepare their HUMMER desert race trucks to tackle this year’s 40th Anniversary SCORE International Tecate Baja 500, May 30-June 1, in Ensenada, Mexico.

2008 marks a special year for Team HUMMER as owner and stock-class H3 driver Rod Hall, 70, seeks his record-setting 18th Baja 500 class victory. Joining Hall are his two sons, Josh and Chad, entering their full-stock class H2 SUT and H3 Alpha.

Hall, Team HUMMER owner and pilot of the #760 mini-stock class H3 is a living legend in the off-road racing world. His relentless and unfailing driving ability has earned him a record 19 career wins at the Baja 1000 and the distinction of being the only driver in history to win the Baja 1000 overall in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Moreover, Hall today remains the only person to have raced every Baja 1000 in a four-wheeled vehicle in the 40-year history of the event.

Hall enters the 2008 race, tied for the record of total class wins at 17 and mini stock class winner in 2006 and 2007. Hall currently leads the SCORE mini stock class in season points with class wins at the Laughlin Desert Challenge and Baja 250.

“With 12 years of experience racing stock-class Hummers, I believe that they are the most capable off-road vehicles straight from the factory,” said Rod Hall. “In fact, the H3 Alpha and H3 were the first stock-class vehicles to finish the 2007 Baja 1000.”

Team HUMMER H3 Alpha driver, Chad Hall, enters the 2008 race as points leader in the full-stock class. Hall and the 2008 H3 Alpha were the first stock class vehicle to finish the 2007 Baja 1000, and Hall has a 2008 class victory at SCORE’s Laughlin Desert Challenge.

Also entered in the stock-full class, Team HUMMER H2 SUT pilot Josh Hall returns to Baja in his full-stock class, 2008 HUMMER H2 SUT. He enters the 2008 race with a class victory at the Baja 250. Josh teamed with Rod in the 2007 Baja 1000 to earn the mini-stock class victory and become the second stock-class vehicle to finish the 2007 race.

International racing legend and three-time overall Baja 1000 champion, Robby Gordon, owner of Robby Gordon Off-Road, prepares to race the Team Dakar USA purpose-built H3 in the Baja 500 Trophy Truck class. Gordon and the H3 most recently finished 10th overall in the inaugural Central Europe Rally, winning two specials in the fifth and sixth stages of the race.

Follow the teams’ progress live by visiting Team HUMMER ( or Robby Gordon Off-Road ( on May 31, 2008.

HUMMER is a division of General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer, which employs about 321,000 people globally. HUMMER is a premium off-road vehicle manufacturer with sales in 37 countries and a product line-up that consists of the H2, H2 SUT, H3, H3x, and award-winning H3 Alpha. Information on HUMMER products is available at

Robby Gordon Motorsports is based in Huntersville, N.C., and owned by Gordon. In addition to its Dakar effort, the team focuses its attention on competing in America's biggest racing series - the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The team has run numerous seasons in various racing series, including CART, the Score International Off-Road Series, the NASCAR Busch Series, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and several one-off efforts in the famed Indianapolis 500, with Gordon enjoying success at every level of his storied career as an owner and driver. He prides himself on his meticulous nature, which includes building cars, trucks and other racing machines that are among the best in their respective disciplines. For more information visit

About Team HUMMER
Team HUMMER was founded by legendary off-road racer Rod Hall in 1993. Since then, Rod and his sons Josh and Chad have compiled 13 class wins at the SCORE Baja 1000; countless podium finishes in the Best in the Desert (BitD) Racing Association series; two SCORE class championships; and five BitD class championships. Team HUMMER competes with the H3, H2 SUT and H3 Alpha in the stock class, which features production-based vehicles with stock frames, stock suspension designs and production-based engines. For more information about Team HUMMER, visit www.rodhallracing.

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Nick Richards
HUMMER Communications