Team Hummer Finishes First & Second in Henderson
December 4, 2004-Henderson, NV: Raceday morning for Henderson's `Terrible 300', the final race of the year, was a cold and blustery day in Henderson, Nevada, with temperatures hovering near the freezing mark as a cold front made it's way Southwest from Canada. Some clouds had started to gather and rain was forecast for Sunday morning but thankfully the weather was dry on raceday and would remain so for the duration of the event. This was a new race on Best in the Desert Racing Association's schedule and would consist of five laps around a 65 mile loop for a total of 325 miles through the Northeastern Mojave Desert. The main pit occupied an area of desert roughly 1/2 mile long by about 1/8 of a mile wide. In the center of this area BitD had constructed a motocross style course with jumps and turns which each car or truck would drive through before transitioning onto a graded surface surrounding the area like a huge oval around an over-size football field. After doing a lap around the infield track area, the competitors would end up on a long straightaway taking them out into the desert for the next 63 miles, which took our class about 11/2 hours to complete.
Team HUMMER had returned from the `Baja 1000' only nine days before we had to have the trucks ready to leave for Henderson. A race of 1016 miles takes it's toll on a truck, no matter how tough it is, so we had our work cut out for us. Before leaving for the `Baja 1000', we had completely restored both trucks knowing that we would be in a time crunch to get to the Henderson race. That effort saved us a lot of work once we got them back to the shop. After concentrating primarily on suspension components and maintenance items, we arrived in Henderson ready to go another 325 miles, confident that the running gear we used in Mexico had, at least, that much racing time left on it. Everything else was fresh including a few new dents we picked up in Baja.
Team HUMMER was on the race course around 8:30 am Saturday morning with Chad Hall/Cort Stoskoph in the #8106 H1 pickup leaving just a few minutes before Josh Hall/Thad Stump in the #4106 H2 SUV. The trucks were running like clockwork but early in the race Josh chose the wrong location to attempt a pass and suffered the consequences almost immediately when he had to stop to change a flat tire. In spite of the flat, Josh was in control of the race for the class 4100 win. Chad was running well, although he pitted several times during the race for shock adjustments as the course became more chewed up from all the lap traffic. These few brief stops only totaled a couple of minutes and he spent the first three laps running in the top three. Foutz, in the #8101 Ford F-250 was holding second, until he pitted at the end of the third lap with transmission problems. As Chad entered the main pit area, not far behind him, the #8106 H1 came to a stop on the back straightaway across from the Team HUMMER pit. As our main pit crew looked on at the H1 dead in it's tracks across the course, a couple of pit crew members from Checkers Off-Road, who were pitting a Motorcycle at that location, jumped under the H1 and discov- ered that the main ground cable had broken. Before our crew could get to the scene, the Checkers had jury rigged the ground wire enabling the H1 to get powered up and drive around to our pit for more permanent repairs. The fix was not complicated but with the downtime out on the course we lost about 19 minutes, which would come back to haunt us, later on.
Chad had a mission beyond winning the race. He was three points behind Foutz for the points championship and the fact that he had passed Foutz, who had returned to his main pit to replace the transmission, was the good news. The bad news was that only three Class 8100 trucks were still running. Charley McDowell, running first in the #8111 Ford, Chad Hall, second in the #8106 H1, and Greg Foutz, who was replacing his transmission but would be in third when he got back underway. So Chad had two ways he could win the points championship: Chase down McDowell, who had a 20 minute lead or hope that Foutz would not have enough time to finish the race within the allotted 10 hour time limitation.
After 71/2 hours out on the course, Josh brought the H2 in for a first place finish almost one hour in front of the second place, John Sunderland in the #4102 Ford Expedition. This marked the H2's third Best in the Desert victory in as many races and clinched third place in the Class 4100 year end points championship for Team HUMMER. The #4106 Team HUMMER SUV not only beat all the trucks in the SUV Full-Stock Production class but proved to be the fastest truck in all the stock production classes by a margin of five minutes, a remarkable feat considering the H2 has slightly more than 1/2 of the 15" of front suspension travel that is allowed in Class 8100.
Chad had the #8106 H1 pickup running in peak form and was gradually reeling in McDowell in the #8111 Ford F-250, but the 19 minutes of downtime he had earlier was just too much to overcome as Hall finished second, just 13 minutes behind the #8111 Ford. So the team settled in to see if Foutz, who was back in the race again, would be able to get to the finish within the ten hour time limit. In the points chase, Chad's second place finish had been enough to assure, at least, a tie for the Silver State Series Class 8100 points championship. However, if the #8101 F-250 was able to finish under the wire, he would be awarded the series title by virtue of having won more events during the season. In a championship effort for Foutz and his team, the #8101 Ford F-250 pickup finished with 20 seconds to spare in 9 hours, 59 minutes, 40 seconds, giving him the points championship and dropping Team HUMMER's Chad Hall to second place in the final Silver State Series Class 8100 standings.
Looking forward to 2005, Team HUM- MER will be the team to beat. The problems that plagued both trucks at the Parker 425, which turned out to be very costly to both Team HUM- MER race trucks on the season, have been sorted out. Both trucks performed at a championship level since that first event, having won five races, taken four second place finishes and a fourth. Also, in November, Chad Hall won his fourth straight SCORE `Baja 1000' in the H1, with help from Mike Winkel, who drove the first third of the course. George R. Thompson Team HUMMER wants to thank all of our sponsors and crew members whose dedication and support have made our many successes in 2004 possible. We also want to take this opportunity to wish all of our sponsors and crew members a happy holiday season. We'll see you all at the opening race of the 2005 racing season, Best in the Desert Racing Association's `Blue Water Hotel & Casino's Parker 425', February 4-6, 2005 in Parker, Arizona.
- grt -