TEAM HUMMER® WINS AGAIN AT BITD/TSCO 'VEGAS to RENO'
Reno, NV - October 8, 2005: On Thursday, October 6, Team HUMMER gathered at the Gold Coast hotel, in Las Vegas for pre-race tech inspection in the hotel's reserve parking area. The trucks were well prepped and tested for this event and were ready for Best in the Desert's TSCO 'Vegas to Reno' race. A new addition to Team HUMMER, led by John Chapman from the GM Desert Proving Ground (DPG) in Mesa, Arizona arrived with the new H3 Class 3100 SUV in tow and ready for it's competitive debut. Class 3100 is for stock mini & mid-sized production SUV's and the number assigned to the H3 for 2005 is 3111.
Working with Thad Stump at DPG, many lent a hand but the core team of Doug Moore, John Chapman, David Williams & Dave Gerber have spent the past few months building the H3 race truck and the quality of the finished product was evident from the moment it arrived in Las Vegas. Team owner Rod Hall had flown to Mesa on Monday, prior to the race, for some last minute adjustments and to test the new truck. Rod was very excited about the new truck and the way it handled. The next day however, Jason Miyamoto from Fox Shox, the man in charge of the H3 Shock development program, flew out from San Diego with the final set of shocks for the SUV. Rod was amazed at how much the new shocks improved the handling capability of the truck, which he had previously thought couldn't have been much better. Encouraged by the easy ride offered by the new MasterCraft seats, the upgraded Fox Shox, and the performance of the LightForce HID lights, the veteran Hall announced that he would drive the entire 495 mile distance of the 'Vegas to Reno' on Friday! Josh Hall's #4103 Team HUMMER H2 SUV arrived on Wednesday after having received a thorough going over to eliminate any remnants of fatigue it may have suffered during the Nevada 1000. There wasn't much other than a damaged radiator which just started dripping coolant on the shop floor one day while the truck was being prepped. Certainly, Sam or Wilbur Cothrun would have uncovered the weakness in the radiator during their normal routine but the evidence of fresh coolant on the floor simplified the inspection process for them.
Chad Hall's #8102 Team HUMMER H1 pickup needed quite a bit of chassis work and the body was removed so crossmembers and suspension components could be replaced. The rear shock mount, which was torn off and repaired in the field during the 'Nevada 1000', was ground off and replaced using stronger materials. Additionally, the ride height was lowered in the rear of the H1 to decrease the operating angle of the constant velocity joints which we believe to be the reason for the recent outbreak of failures of the rear half-shaft boots. Having passed all 3 trucks through the tech inspection process, we put them on the trailer and headed for the starting line in Johnnie, about 70 miles west of Las Vegas where the race would begin on Friday morning.
Named after "Indian Johnnie," an old Paiute Indian guide who led prospectors to a gold strike in the late 1800's, Johnnie is a deserted mining area located about 20 miles north of Pahrump in southwestern Nevada. On most days, the only movement you'll see in Johnnie is the occaisonal Roadrunner darting across the dry riverbed running north into the Amargosa Valley but on Friday morning, the landscape was alive with the sound of almost 200 race vehicles staging for the start of Best in the Desert Racing Association's TSCO 'Vegas to Reno' race.
The #8102 H1 pickup was first off the line for Team HUMMER, with the team of Chad Hall at the wheel and Dr. Cort Stoskoph in the second seat. Everything was going well for the big HUMMER and Chad was moving through the field for the first 100 miles and holding on to second place. Not too far in front of him was the #8101 Ford V- 10 driven by Mesa, Arizona's Greg Foutz, who was also running trouble-free but Chad was running on his pace knowing that there was still 400 miles to the finish just south of Reno. Just out of Pit #4, (Scotty's Junction), the H1, was running in the dust when it found a ditch, breaking a left front half-shaft, requiring about 20 minutes for Chad & Cort to replace on the side of the race course. About 20 miles out of Pit #5, (Cottontail) the H1 suffered more downtime when a fuel filter apparently clogged while racing across some very mountainous terrain. The truck has filters on a dual feed which flows fuel from both sides of the fuel cell and was on a steep incline leaning to the left when the engine stalled out. After replacing both filters with no result, Chad was forced to conclude that the truck had run out of fuel, although he should have had enough to go another 50 miles. In a pinch, the diesel will fire up on automatic transmission fluid, so he poured in the two spare quarts he had on board. Amazingly, the truck came to life, allowing him to get over the hill and back on level ground where it ran all the way to the pit. After blowing out the fuel lines between the filters and cell, the truck was re-fueled and the problem did not re-occur! Unfortunately, the #8102 H1 pickup had lost another 40 minutes to the leader putting us an hour down with 320 miles left in the race...
Josh Hall got off the line in the #4103 Team HUMMER H2 SUV just five minutes after Chad in the #8102 H1 and had passed Chad while he was dealing with the Broken half-shaft just out of Scotty's Junction. Co-riding with Josh on this segment of the course was Thad Stump and the H2 was well in front of the Class 4100 lead en-route to what he hoped would be his 7th consecutive BitD race win. He was running a trouble-free race and cleared Scotty's Junction almost an hour ahead of second place Mark Stein in the #4101 Ford Exhibition who had hit a ditch and was replacing rear suspension parts in Pit #3, just north of Beatty.
Team owner, Rod Hall, was the last Team HUMMER entry to start the race at the wheel of the recently completed #3111 H3 SUV with John Chapman in the second seat. Class 3100 has been dominated for years by the #3102 Ford Explorer driven by Mike Falkosky of Ramona, CA, one of the sports finest competitors. The veteran Hall, who had driven the truck for the first time only three days earlier, started right behind the #8102 Exporer and was holding position until they stopped at Pit #1 to give the new truck a once over to be certain everything was in order. Hall was back in the hunt within a couple of minutes and passed through Scotty's Junction just 3 minutes behind Falkosky in the #3102 Explorer. At Pit #7 (Tonopah), 100 miles further into the race, the H3 had dropped another four minutes to the leader and the crew decided to adjust the torsion bars at the next fuel stop, in Redlich, to increase the ride height which seemed to be slowing them down over the rough terrain. By the time they made the adjustment, Falkosky had built up a 14 minute lead with just under 200 miles to go and Hall put the hammer down in an effort to catch him.
The #8102 H1 pickup had been running like the wind since sorting out the fuel delivery problem and had just cleared Tonopah in second place when Chad caught the pungent odor of gear oil. A quick roadside inspection revealed that the front axle seals on both sides had backed our of the axle housing. How, you might wonder, could this happen? Well, it seems that the front axle housings were recently upgraded to the new Alpha units which have pressed-in seals. Had we noticed this, we would have modified these housings to accept a retaining clip to avoid just such a problem. Pressed-in seals are not a problem under normal operating conditions but racing across the desert at 95 MPH requires the addition of a retaining clip. Under the circumstances, the only immediate solution the crew could offer was to pound the seals back into the housings as best we could and add gear oil as necessary along the way. Josh Hall with Sam Cothrun now the co-rider in the H2, had built up a one hour lead over the second place entry of Mark Stein in the #4101 Ford Exhibition. Josh was in the process of extending his lead when the left, front shock overheated and decided to reject a seal just south of Pit #6 (Goldfield). Since the parts necessary to repair the shock were in Redlich, all we could do in Goldfield was to add oil to the shock and charge it with Nitrogen, which we were able to borrow from the Stienberger/Jones Trophy Truck crew. At Tonopah we repeated the process and made arrangements to meet a crew with the parts we needed at Pit #8 (Millers), who were driving down from the pit trailer at Redlich. Josh pulled into Millers and the chase crew wasted no time removing the damaged shock while we waited for the truck to arrive with our parts. While the H2 was in the pit, the crew put on the light bar and gave the truck a through inspection. As Sam was installing the rebuilt shock, the H2 fell to second place when Marc Stein drove by waving and honking his signature siren. After having a one hour lead on him, the crew was a little agitated, to say the least. Josh climbed behind the wheel and observed, "I already beat him once! Now we just have to go out and beat him again." By the time the Team HUMMER H2 passed through Pit #11(Luning), they had passed Stein and reclaimed the lead for the second time. With no further problems, the crew started to gather at the finish line, just south of Reno and the HUMMERs finished in the order they had started. Second in Class 8100 and the first HUMMER to cross the line at 11:12 PM, Friday evening was the #8102 Team HUMMER pickup driven by Chad Hall .
First in Class 4100 at 11:44 PM and the second HUMMER across the finish line was Josh Hall driving the #4102 Team HUMMER H2 SUV . This is the 7th consecutive BitD win for Josh and the H2 and he only needs to finish the 'Henderson 400', in December to win the Class 4100 points championship.
Second in Class 3100 at 12:41 AM and only three minutes behind the winner was Rod Hall in the #3111 Team HUMMER H3 SUV. The truck only needed a torsion bar adjustment and had one flat tire as it came into the Pit #8. Hall was happy with the debut performance of the new H3 and has asked me to recognize the H3 team from the Desert Proving Grounds for the fine job they did in building the race truck.