BITD: Team Hummer Henderson 400 summary

H2 WINS EIGHTH CONSECUTIVE BITD RACE AT 'HENDERSON 400' TEAM HUMMER FINISHES ONE & TWO IN POINTS CHAMPIONSHIP Henderson, NV - December 3, 2005: Team HUMMER arrived in Henderson on Thursday morning, in time to head out to the time trials course...

H2 WINS EIGHTH CONSECUTIVE BITD RACE AT 'HENDERSON 400' TEAM HUMMER FINISHES ONE & TWO IN POINTS CHAMPIONSHIP

Henderson, NV - December 3, 2005: Team HUMMER arrived in Henderson on Thursday morning, in time to head out to the time trials course in an attempt to qualify for an improved starting position. Whether or not there is an advantage to an improved starting position in a class that starts after so many other vehicles is arguable in my opinion but one advantage to the time trials is that it gives us the opportunity to bounce the trucks in under race conditions. In the past, this short run has allowed us to diagnose problems we thought were corrected while there was still time to deal with them prior to raceday morning. Well, the time trials were critical for us at Henderson because we discovered that the Turbo was not working on the H1 and the shifting problem on the H2, which began at the Baja 1000, was still a problem.

Unfortunately, we had used our only spare turbo in Mexico, just a few weeks ago and didn't have enough time to have the spare replaced. These are highly modified turbos, so getting one locally was out of the question. We called Edro Engineering, the company that is owned by Eric & Terry Henn, who run a similar H1 HUMMER in our class. Fortunately, they had a spare and put in on their truck for delivery to us later that day in Henderson. The crew was waiting when the turbo arrived and was able to get it on the H1 in time for the race. Thanks go out to the Henn Brothers.

The H2 problem was a bit more disturbing and we had to draw heavily on our resources as a "Factory" team to find the resolution for this issue as we only had 24 hours before the start of the race. Before leaving for Henderson, we had replaced the transmission from Baja, however, everyone had a gut feeling that the running gear was never the problem in the first place but merely a symptom of the problem we had yet to find. Hydramatic's Jim Miller was kind enough to email me with a full explanation of what they discovered on Friday. "One of the wires on the output speed sensor circuit was separating inside the insulation. Initially under heavy throttle conditions the powertrain rotates and would pull on the wire causing the intermittent loss of vehicle speed. This is what Josh was experiencing at the 'Baja 1000'. The transmission controls rely mainly on vehicle speed and TPS to determine the correct gear. So if vehicle speed drops to 0 the transmission thinks it needs to be in first gear. Josh was unable to detect this intermittent loss of signal in the instrument panel since it does not react very quickly. It was only detected after looking at a Tech 2 and watching the speed drop for a brief second." Thanks to Jim for the explanation and to Hydra- Matic for providing Team HUMMER with reliable transmissions all season long!

By the time we headed for the staging area, both Team HUMMER trucks were again running up to their capability and we were all very optimistic about our chances in this final event of the 2005 season. By 7:00 AM on raceday morning, conditions in the start/finish area were chaotic, to say the least. Officials were closing access roads to and from the main pit area because there was so much race traffic that the entrance to the main pit was hopelessly jammed. Most people chose to simply ignore the officials and drove around them. By 8:00 AM, our trucks were already staged and awaiting the green flag for the start of the race.

Chad got off the line in the #8102 H1 Pickup at 8:54 AM and Josh took the green flag in the #4103 H2 SUV just six minutes later. Prior to arriving at Pit #1, (Mile 13.5) the rear brake line, on the H1, fractured near the master cylinder, severly limiting the braking ability of the truck. There were no spare brake lines that would fit and no one seemed to have a flaring tool handy at Pit #1 to repair the broken line so Chad went on about his race with front brakes only, feeling that 20 minutes was already enough time to lose. Other than the brake problem, Chad ran well during the remainder of lap #1 and came through the main pit area, at the start of Lap #2, twenty minutes down to the leader and running in 5th place.

On lap #1, Josh had the Team HUMMER #4103 H2 SUV out in the lead and the transmission was working perfectly, now that the problem wire had been replaced. By the end of the first lap, he had a 42 minute lead on the second place #4101 Ford Expedition driven by Mark Stein/Mike McComas, last years points champions. The Ford seemed to have developed some problems on the first lap but was making up time by the end of the second lap and was only 28 minutes back when they came through for the start of lap #3.

Chad had adjusted to the lack of rear brakes, although he had to alter his driving style to avoid breaking rear half-shafts, which is easily done when the truck is braking on only the front wheels. The #8102 Team HUMMER Pickup started the third lap in fourth place, a mere 4 minutes behind the new #8117 Powerstroke Ford driven by Kreg Donahoe. The battle for second was exciting in Class 8100, with only a few minutes separating the second through sixth place entries. By the start of lap #4, Chad was holding on to fourth but had dropped behind the third place Donahoe entry by seven minutes. As Donahoe co-rider, Bob Bower wrote in his race report for the #8117 Ford, "It was a battle of risk, skill and luck," and I certainly would have to agree with his assessment of the Class 8100 race. As the sun began to set, they came around for the fifth and final lap with the H1 in third, 3 1/2 minutes in front of Donahoe, who had slipped to fourth and an equal 3 1/2 minutes out of second, currently held by Randy Merritt in the #8104 Ford F-250.

Meanwhile, Josh Hall, in the #4103 Team HUMMER H2 had built his lead over the second place #4101 up to 40 minutes as they entered the start of the forth lap and was enjoying a trouble-free day, having already clinched the Best in the Desert Class 4100 points championship. He was amazingly consistent, turning each lap up to this point in One hour & forty two minutes, give or take 30 seconds. By the start of the final lap, another 1:42 lap, the H2 had over an hour on second place and turned on the lights as he headed for the Checkered flag and his eighth consecutive BitD victory for Team HUMMER. About 50 miles into lap #5, Josh hit a rock and broke an idler arm, which sidelined him for 38 minutes while co-rider Sam Cothrun replaced the broken part in the dirt. Nonetheless, Hall brought the #4103 Team HUMMER H2 in for the win, thirty-four minutes ahead of Marc Stein, claiming the Class 4100 Points Championship in only our second full year of competition in the new SUV.

Chad was in a dog fight. Only seconds separated second through fourth place on the final lap and daylight was nothing but a memory as he pulled into Pit #1 for a stop & go headlight adjustment. He was out a few seconds before Merritt in the #8104 Ford and just seconds behind Donahoe in the #8117 Deisel powered Super-Duty Ford. About 40 miles into lap #5, Chad took a line that got him around the big Ford and into second place, driving as if the truck had brakes on all four corners. The three trucks had thrown caution to the wind, dueling for position like wolves over a carcass. Donahoe smacked something and broke a front spring, dropping his right side like a low-rider but he quickly made the mental adjustment and kept pushing the beast forward like it never happened. Everyone turned onto a power line road with less then 15 miles remaining to the finish. Chad left the start line first and it would not be enough to finish in front. He had to put a couple of minutes on the Fords so he kept the hammer down. The motor was strong and he was putting some distance on the pack. As he pulled over to pass some slower race traffic, he nailed a rock and flattened a tire, dooming the #8102 H1 to a fourth place finish.

It's never easy to lose a race, but to lose in sight of the finish line after over 300 miles of fender to fender action is a bitter pill to swallow. Over the years, I've come to learn that such is the nature of competition. Kudos to Donahoe, Merritt and Chad Hall who finished the season and the race reaching for the brass ring.

The H1 finished second in Best in the Desert's Class 8100 Points Championship. This race marks the end of the H1's distinguished nine-year racing career and it will be retired in favor of a new Team HUMMER H1 Alpha pickup, scheduled to debut at the 'Parker 425', in February.

2005 - A Brief Review Team HUMMER was upbeat coming into the 2005 Best in the Desert Season, having finished up 2004 with the H2 winning three of the final four races on our schedule and the H1 winning the Baja 1000 for the fourth consecutive year. Both trucks had new paint schemes and new team uniforms were on order, although they didn't arrive in time for the Parker 425, the first race of the season.

Parker 425

Driving the #4103 Team HUMMER H2 SUV, Josh Hall finished where he left off in 2004, beating the competition by over two hours and taking his fourth consecutive BitD series win. Chad Hall, in the #8102 Team HUMMER H1 Pickup had a transmission failure shortly after the race started. The transmission was replaced at a Checker Pit in just under two hours and Chad was able to finish the race with a sixth place finish.

Terrible's Town 250

The #4103 H2 broke a brake line about 100 miles from the finish but repairs at an outlying pit took only 11 minutes to complete and Josh went on to take the win, marking the 5th consecutive BitD victory for the H2. Chad experienced Turbo problems early in the race and lost a rear half-shaft later on which was replaced. The #8102 Team HUMMER H1 Pickup finished the race in third place

Nevada 1000

After four days of racing across the State of Nevada, Josh Hall and the H2 continued his winning streak by dominating the marathon 1000 mile event. The win marked Josh's 6th consecutive BitD victory. In spite of ongoing half-shaft failures and tearing out part of his rear suspension, Chad Hall won the Nevada 1000 with several minutes to spare moving the H1 into second place in the series points chase.

Vegas to Reno

Josh Hall had a seal failure on one of the front shocks which required a rebuild in a remote pit location, about mid way through the race. He recovered and went on to win his 7th consecutive BitD race. Chad Hall had fuel delivery problems and broke a front half-shaft early in the race but ran trouble-free for the last 400 miles finishing the 560 mile race in second place. Rod Hall, soloed the entire race in the new (mini-Stock) Class 3100 Team HUMMER H3 SUV. Right out of the box, the #3111 H3 ran a trouble-free race pausing only for some adjustments and one flat tire to finish in second place, just three minutes off the leader.

Baja 1000

Rod Hall teamed up with Mike Winkel to record his 18th Baja 1000 Victory in the new H3, which experienced no significant problems. Josh Hall fought a faulty wire all day in the H2, until chief mechanic, Sam Cothrun "McGuyvered" the transmission into going into low lock when it had to, enabling Hall to win the Full-Stock class Championship. Doing double duty, Winkel also co-drove with Chad Hall to finish second, about forty minutes behind his brother in the Team HUMMER H1 Pickup.

Henderson 400

The new H3 sat out this race. Josh Hall broke an idler arm on the final lap but still won his 8th consecutive BitD race by 35 minutes over the second place finisher. Josh and the H2 Team also won the 2005 Class 4100 Points Championship. Chad Hall suffered a flat tire in the #8102 H1 Pickup, 15 miles from the finish line to wind up the race in fourth place. Chad and the H1 Team wound up the season second in the Class 8100 Points Championship. Chad will debut a new H1 Alpha Pickup at the 'Parker 425' in February.

Team HUMMER wants to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season and a Prosperous and Healthy New Year!

-grt-

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