Monday, August 25, 2008

Update & Thanks from Emily

Wow, what a day...and night.  Jake and I made it across the finish line, accomplishing our mission to finish the Vegas to Reno.  To keep this blog shorter, I am writing an expanded version of my experience (for anyone interesting in a rookie's experience) and will post a link from our homepage.  But here's the cliff note version  - suffering a tough blow to the right front tie rod and wheel, we spent 2 hours at Pit 2 having the right front end rebuilt.  In fact, we left the pit just 8 MINUTES BEFORE TIMING OUT.  Needless to say, we were now in a position to just get it to the finish line and I could not afford to make one more mistake - we were now in a race against check point times. However, we had burned up our daylight and would spend almost 300 miles in the dark. One issue arose, we had one overhead light rack with 5 lights and our 2 stock headlights.  There seemed to be an issue with the connector, and the lights immediately began to flicker on and off.  We then lost 2 of our upper lights and one stock headlight.  Needless to say, it was a disadvantage. In off-road racing, you drive what you see.  Well, we couldn't see much.  With night upon us, the dust hung thick and we often could only run on our 1 light, as our overhead lights made the situation worse - illuminating a total white out.  But we did put a cushion between timing out, which provided some relief (we welcomed any break!). 

When we finally pulled into the finish I was blown away to see the entire team waiting to greet us!  Incredibly moved, I knew they gave us everything they had.  Without them, it was impossible to finish.  I've been with the team for some time now and have seen them in action in tough situations - they are the best at what they do.  Period.   

Let's talk about Jake Povey, my navigator, on loan from Rod whom he normally drives with. Jake instinctively knew exactly what I needed to accomplish our goal.  It is much tougher to sit in the right seat for that many hours.  He was my navigator, coach, mechanic, motivator and friend.  It is much easier, motivating and more fun to run with other trucks.  When nightfall hit, we were in for a lonely run.  Most of the time, it was just us.  I owe finishing to him - he is the man!

Thank you to everyone who made our run possible!  I really wanted the opportunity to drive the entire race - start to finish - and it took many to make it happen.  Thanks to Rod Hall for believing in me and providing me an incredible opportunity.  To every team member, SamCo, GM-HUMMER, BFGoodrich (talk about tough tires - no flats!), Matt Laramie and Shannon Moore who were the first ones to jump under the truck at Pit 2, Darin Nelson & Austin Tischler (our main chase crew), Thad, Buffy, Doug Moore, Tom Heyl who always encourage me, and Chad, Hall, Josh Hall, Mike Winkel and Rod who set an incredible example.  I would love to have half their skills behind the wheel! What an honor to be trained by Rod, and given the chance to be part of such an incredible team - the best in stock class racing.

Posted by Emily Miller

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Saturday Morning at 5:26, Emily Miller brought the #4110 H2 SUV across the line in Dayton taking a third place finish for Team HUMMER. More importantly, Emily finished one of the most grueling events in all of off-road racing and did it in great style after spending 16 hours, 44 minutes out on the course at an average speed of 28 MPH...Great job, Emily.

We would like to thank all of our sponsors without whose products none of this race, or any other, would have been possible: HUMMER, for the best truck in the world and all the support of the guys at the GM Proving Ground, BFGoodrich, which gave us no flats, Hella Lights for lighting the way through the darkness of the night, Fox Shox, which kept all of our trucks going in the right direction, MasterCraft Seats, for the comfortable ride, TIFCO Fasteners, for holding everything together, for keeping us in designer wear, Mile Marker Wenches for being there, just in case 4-Wheel Drive wasn't enough, Hydra-Matic for the great transmissions, Sign-Pros, who does all of our lettering, Off Road Warehouse for all the misc. stuff it takes to build these race cars and of course...The Checkers!

Good Night from Reno...

George R. Thompson


Just before 2:00 AM on Saturday Morning, Mike Winkel crossed the finish line in the #3111 Team HUMMER H3 SUV and made it three wins for Rod Hall Racing and Team HUMMER, sweeping all three production class victories at the 2008 Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race. The unprecedented sweep of Classes 3100, 4100 and 8100 is a clear demonstration of the durability of HUMMER vehicles and puts all three Team HUMMER trucks alone atop their classes in the race for the 2008 points championship with two events left in the BITD Silver State Series. The #3111 Team HUMMER H3 SUV was on the course for 13 hours, 15 minutes and averaged about 34 MPH.

Emily Miller is about 80 miles from the finish and we estimate she will take the checkered flag somewhere between 5:00 - 6:00 AM.

Friday, August 22, 2008


For the second consecutive year, Chad & Josh Hall cross the finish line within a few minutes (6) of each other to win Class 4100 and Class 8100. Chad took the checkered flag in the #4111 Team HUMMER H3 Alpha at 11:49 PM, 70 miles in front of the second place #4101 Ford Expedition driven by John Sunderland. Chad spent about 11 hours, 9 minutes on the course and finished with an average speed of about 41 MPH.

Josh Hall finished at 11:55 PM, in the #8111 Team HUMMER H2 SUT with a 30 mile lead over the apparent second place finisher, Greg Foutz in the # 8102 Ford F-350 pick-up. Josh was out on the course for 11 hours, 25 minutes for an average speed of about 39 MPH.

At the final pit, at race-mile 410, Chad came through with a badly missing engine which was a matter of great concern after Josh had lost an engine in the H2 at the Baja 500, in June. The preliminary symptom at that time was that the engine started missing. As it turned out, the H2 had developed a problem in the fuel management system which caused cylinders 2 & 3 to run lean, a condition which, if left un-treated will cause the pistons to burn. Since the problem could not be diagnosed in the field, the cylinders burned and forced us to retire the H2 from the race. Fortunately, while the symptoms may have been the same the cause must have been different as Chad's truck climbed Pine Nut Mountain, the final obstacle between the final pit and the finish, without incident.

Currently Mike Winkle is at race-mile 415 in the #3111 H3 and has extended his lead over the #4101 Ford to 25 miles. Emily Miller is soldiering on in the H2 SUV and is at race-mile 285. Both Winkle and Miller appear to be running well and I will be tracking them until they cross the finish line.


At 10:00 PM, Chad Hall in the #4111 H3 SUT passed through the Top Gun Pit at race-mile 375 leading his class by 57 miles and running well. His older brother, Josh, was 3 miles back in the #8111 H2 SUT and leading the #8102 Ford V-10 pick-up by 31 miles. The team of Rod Hall/Mike Winkel, with Winkel at the wheel of the #3111 H3 SUV was at race-mile 305 with a lead of 11 miles over the #3101 Ford. Emily Miller is running well but is back at race-mile 238.

I doubt Emily weighs much more than 110 lbs but she has the Bulldog-like tenacity which is a requirement for anyone who chooses to drive the entire distance of the Vegas to Reno race in an 8000 Lb H2 even when everything is going well. The night wears on you and the longer you are out on the course the stranger it becomes. Shapes in the night become un-likely hallucinations jumping out at you like images from your worst nightmare and it's times like this that mistakes can happen...But Emily is tough!


Chad Hall in the #4111 H3 Alpha and Josh Hall in the #8111 H2 SUT are in sight of each other on the course. Of more importance, since they are team members, is the fact that Chad is first in Class over #4101, Sunderland, by 32 miles and Josh is 19 miles in front of Greg Foutz in #8102 and holding the lead in class 8100. Mike Winkel driving the #3111 H3 SUV has extended his lead over Falkowsky in #3101 to 6 miles. Chad and Josh are currently at race-mile 311 and Mike Winkel is at race-mile 276. Emily Miller is still running in the #4110 H2 SUV and is approaching race-mile 200.


Rod Hall is at race-mile 178 approaching Pit#6, where he is scheduled to let Mike Winkel take over behind the wheel of the #3111 H3 SUV. Mike Falkowsky is at race-mile 176 in the #3101 Ford and has no plans to stop for a driver change so once Mike gets in and the #3111 is back in the race, the two class 3100 trucks should be running neck and neck. Riding with Mike is his brother, Rob Winkel.

Emily Miller has the #4110 H2 SUV back in the race and is currently in third place at race-mile 115. John Sunderland in the #4101 is holding onto second place at race-mile 200, about 85 miles in front of Miller but thirty miles behind Chad Hall who is in the lead at race-mile 230 in the H3 Alpha.

Josh Hall is at race-mile 225 and continues to hold the lead in the #8111 H2 SUT with 22 miles between him and the second place #8102 Ford driven by Greg Foutz. #8110 and #8131, both leading early in the race, have fallen back to race-mile 178 and are dueling each other for third place. We are still only half-way through the race, or less if you are Rod, and a lot can happen once the sun goes down. Chad, in the H3 Alpha, is now only five miles in front of Josh in the H2 SUT. 


Team HUMMER continues to do well in the marathon Vegas to Reno event. Rod Hall, in the #3111 H3 SUV, has been in a drag race with 2007 Class 3100 points champion, Mike Falkowsky in his #3101 Ford Escape, just about all day now with Hall leading the class by one mile over Falkowsky at Race-mile 103. The third place #3104 entry driven by Jesse Herling is back at race-mile 85.

In Class 4100, Chad Hall, in the #4111 H3 Alpha leads by 20 miles over John Sunderland in the #4101 Ford. Chad is currently at race-mile 135. Meanwhile, Emily Miller, in the #4110 H2 SUV suffered a right-front suspension failure as she was turning to enter Pit #2 at race-mile 70. A member of the chase crew said, "There was no apparent reason for the failure. She was making a right turn just before the pit and the suspension just collapsed." Emily pulled into Pit #2 an repairs are being made.

Josh Hall has taken the lead in the #8111 H2 SUT. Josh is currently at race-mile 151, a dozen miles in front of the second place #8110 Dodge who is in a tight race with Alden in the #8131 Ford. Hall was behind by over 26 miles after clearing the traffic jam at race-mile 45, so in 100 miles of racing he has made up the difference and added another 12 miles to his lead. At this point, Josh's next target will be his brother, Chad, who is currently 10 miles ahead of him in the h3 Alpha.

I'll keep an eye on their progress and find out more about the suspension work on Emily Miller's H2 and get back to you.


Everyone seems to have gotten past the traffic jam, now with varying results. Chad in the #4111 H3 Alpha is at mile 71, in the lead by 16 miles over John Sunderland in the #4101 Ford and Emily Miller in the #4110 HUMMER, who are in a virtual dead heat for second place in Class 4100.

Rod Hall in the #3111 H3 SUV and Mike Falkowsky in the Ford Escape are running neck and neckfor the lead at mile 47. In Class 8100, Kent Kroeker leads at mile 80 in the #8110 Dodge closely followed by Mike Alden at mile 79 in the #8131 Ford. Josh is at RM 68 in 3rd place with the #8111 H2 while Randy Merritt in the #8181 Ford is challenging him for his position.


While running near the front of Class 8100, Josh Hall broke a rear track bar mount at mile 35  and was down for about 15 minutes while Doug Moore and Kelly Willis welded the mount back into the truck. Ironically, he caught up with the rest of the class at mile 45, where the entire class is stuck in a traffic jam which is apparently the result of a medical emergency which has caused them to stop the race at that location.  #8110 and #8131 and Chad in #4111 seem to have gotten past it but Josh, Emily, Rod and the rest of Classes 3100, 4100, 8100, 7100, etc. are all stopped there waiting to be re-started.  

News as it develops.


All of the Team HUMMER trucks have started on schedule and seem to be running well. Josh Hall, in the #8111 H2 SUT was first onto the race course at 12:30 PM. Currently Josh, Chad & Rod are leading their classes with Emily Miller running 3rd in the #4110 H2 SUV. It's early yet so I'll give them a little while to get everything sorted out. Riding in the navigator's seat today are Sam Cothrun in the #8111 H2 SUT, with Jason Jacopian in the media seat. Thad Stump is riding with Chad Hall in the #4111 H3 Alpha, Jake Povey is riding the second seat beside Emily Miller in the #4110 H2 SUV and Rob Henderson is in the #3111 H3 SUV with Rod Hall.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2008 Vegas to Reno

The 2008 Vegas to Reno race is just around the corner and I am heading to the race soon to bring you a live report of our progress in the race as it unfolds. Team HUMMER has four vehicles entered in this year's Vegas to Reno race. Team owner, Rod Hall will be sharing time behind the wheel of the #3111 Team HUMMER H3 SUV with his friend and business partner, Mike Winkel from Reno, Nevada. Rod is currently tied for the lead in the Class 3100 points championship with Mike Falkowsky of Ramona, California who drives a Ford Escape.

Chad Hall will drive the #4111 Team HUMMER H3 Alpha and is currently the Class 4100 points leader by seven points over John Sunderland of Valley Center, California in a Ford Expedition. Chad won this race in Class 8100 last year behind the wheel of the H1 Alpha which went on to win the 2007 Best in the Desert Silver State Series Class 8100 points championship. He and his brother Josh, switched classes this year after new trucks were built for them at the GM Proving Ground in Mesa, Arizona which they debuted at the 2007 Baja 1000 which Chad won in the new H3 Alpha.

Emily Miller will be at the wheel of the #4110 Team HUMMER H2 SUV which was driven with great success for the past 3 years by Josh Hall. Emily lives in Encinitas, California and has been an important part of Rod Hall Team HUMMER for a number of years helping us with a variety of marketing and administrative tasks. She made her solo driving debut at Best in the Desert's Terrible's 250 at Primm, in April where she finished second in Sportsman Class 1800. Emily will move up to a pro class at this race and will drive the entire 455 mile distance in Class 4100 with Jake Povey in the second seat as navigator and team mechanic.

Josh Hall will drive the #8111 Team HUMMER H2 SUT and is currently leading the Class 8100 Points chase by 9 points over Larry Tunnell, Jr. out of Parker, Arizona who drives a Chevy pick-up. Josh has won the last four Vegas to Reno races in Class 4100 and this will be his first year racing the event in Class 8100. This will be a pivotal event for Josh, Chad and Rod since the leads in their respective classes are very close and each of them will need to have a very good finish to maintain their position on top of their classes.

I will be in close touch with the team and will issue progress reports throughout the race. You can also watch their animated image on Iritrack, an internet website that tracks the position of all the entries in the race by going to or you can access a link to this site on the opening page of our website at

The race will start on Friday, August 22, with the first of 215 cars and trucks off the line at 10:30 AM. The first Team HUMMER truck to start the race will be Josh Hall in the #8111 Team HUMMER H2 SUT. I estimate that he will start around 12:30 on Friday with our other three entries starting within 10-15 minutes after Josh.

I'll continue with this blog at that time but now, it's time for me to pack my equipment and head for the Silver State.

George R. Thompson