June 25, 2004 - Reno, Nevada: The ...
June 25, 2004 - Reno, Nevada: The # 4106 Team HUMMER H2 SUV celebrated it's first anniversary in off- road racing with a convincing victory in Best in the Desert Racing Association's TSCO `Vegas to Reno' race on Friday June 25th. Josh Hall, who drove the entire 500 mile distance, brought the big SUV in 50 minutes in front of the #4102 Ford Exhibition driven by John Sunderland, of Valley Center, Calif., who finished the day in second place. The H2 was introduced to off-road competition, one year ago, at the 2003 TSCO `Vegas to Reno' race and struggled for a forth place finish after overcoming a variety of problems at that event. Last year, the H2 covered the distance in a grueling 20 hours and 53 minutes while this year's first place effort took only 11 hours and 29 seconds. It was a warm day in the southern section of the race course with temperatures in the area of 105 degrees. This created overheating problems for many of the vehicles and the H2 was no exception although the temperature was not severe enough to slow us down. At one pit the H2 came in for refueling and even as the gas was being dumped we noticed the right front tire going flat. This was perfect timing and a new tire was installed before the refueling was complete, so no additional time was lost. For the first 150 miles of the race, the H2 was swapping the lead with Marc Stein in the #4101 Ford Exhibition, but Josh passed him for the last time just outside of Goldfield when Stein was forced to pull off the course with a flat tire. A few miles The H2 taking on fuel and a tire at Pit #5 later, Stein was sidelined with rear differential problems and was never a factor in the race after that.
The `Vegas to Reno' started out well enough for the #8106 Team HUMMER Pickup although the heat of the day was causing engine temps to soar into the 240 degree range. When the engine runs hot, Chad has to back down on the engine speed to allow the 6.5 diesel time to cool off. This technique has to be repeated more often in the mountains than it does on level ground, where the demands on the cooling system are somewhat reduced. Nonethe- less, this is a demanding driving style which is dependent on paying very close attention to the coolant gauge at all times. In spite of this handicap, Chad was able to move through the pack and put the H1 in second position behind the #8101 V-10 Ford pickup, driven by Greg Foutz of Mesa, AZ. Although Chad was able to hold his position, he was steadily losing ground to Foutz. As the temperature went down, he was able to reel in the big Ford but each time he had to back off to cool the engine down, Foutz was able to stretch out his lead, once again.
To make matters worse, the Team HUMMER pickup lost 4th gear in the transmission somewhere around Goldfield, about 175 miles into the race. The loss of fourth gear has occurred in the past since these relatively stock transmis- sions are not designed to handle 450 horsepower. This reduces our top speed to about 70 M.P.H. and forces us to work the motor at higher RPM than we would like, aggravating the overheating issue. The good news is that the loss of fourth gear doesn't put us out of the race but it does slow us down in the high speed sections. As we approached Tonopah (6000 ft.) and the higher elevations of Northern Nevada, the ambient temperatures dropped considerably and the overheating problem gradually went away. As Chad pulled in to the Luning pit, with about 160 miles left in the race, we held a comfortable lead over the rest of the field, but almost thirty minutes now separated the #8106 H1 pickup from the #8101 Ford. At this point, except for the absence of fourth gear, the H1 was running perfectly and Chad decided to turn up the wick on the big truck and put some pressure on Foutz.
Josh had barely left the Mina pit when Chad came in for fuel. While Chad was focused on catching Foutz, Josh had a 37 minute lead over Sunderland in the #4102 Exhibition and was well in command of the race for Class 4100. Josh had passed Chad while the # 8106 Pickup was having their spare replaced in pit #9 but Chad got back on course quickly to give chase. The two HUMMERs paced each other for several hours until the H2 pulled over to let the H1 pass them just outside of the Top Gun Pit, 420 miles into the race. As they drove through Top Gun, the H2 was in the Class 4100 lead by 33 minutes and the H1 was now, only nine minutes out of first in Class 8100 with about 70 miles left to the finish.
At the finish in Dayton, just south of Reno, Team HUMMER's #4106 H2 SUV finished took the checkered flag and their first win by 50 minutes over second place John Sunderland in the #4102 Ford Exhibition. Chad Hall, in the #8106 Team HUMMER pickup crossed the line in second, just two minutes behind Greg Foutz in the #8101 Ford. This was a very successful race for Team HUMMER! Not only for the fact that we finished well with both trucks but also because we made some positive adjustments to our testing routines and to the race vehicles themselves that worked flawlessly. For that we can thank our great crew and the involvement of a superb group of sponsors.