Team HUMMER Baja 1000 race report

Ensenada, BC, Mexico - Nov 22, 2003: Earlier today, Chad and Josh Hall brought home the third consecutive Tecate/Score 'Baja 1000' victory for Team HUMMER, taking the checkered flag in their HUMMER H1 Pick-up after covering the 800 mile course in...

Ensenada, BC, Mexico - Nov 22, 2003: Earlier today, Chad and Josh Hall brought home the third consecutive Tecate/Score 'Baja 1000' victory for Team HUMMER, taking the checkered flag in their HUMMER H1 Pick-up after covering the 800 mile course in 22 hours, 41 minutes. In what many say was the toughest `Baja 1000' ever, the Reno, Nevada brothers dominated the "Stock-Full Sized production class" finishing almost 3 1/2 hours in front of the second place entry of San Diego's, Mark Stein. This win marks the fourth `Baja 1000' victory for Chad Hall, the third for brother, Josh and is the 7th `Baja 1000' win for Team HUMMER since 1993, when HUMMER first began competing in this internationally recognized off-road race.

"We had some problems with the right, front shock reservoir", said Chad Hall, who started the race with co-rider Dr. Cort Stoskoph. "Apparently, the piston travel in the reservoir was limited because we had clamped it too tightly to the shock, restricting the movement of the piston. As a result, when we charged the shocks, the right one didn't get filled completely. Once we figured out what was wrong and relocated the reservoir, it worked correctly but still did not have a full charge. This caused us to take a more conservative line through the rough stuff, which was probably a good thing since we were able to go the distance with no flats and no problems of any kind."

Josh Hall took the wheel of the #861 HUMMER Pick-up at race-mile 449 with chief mechanic, Brad Falin in the second seat. At that point Team HUMMER had already built up a considerable lead and Josh was able to add to that advantage when the second place truck hit a rock around race-mile 730 and tore off a rear wheel, causing them to suffer additional downtime. Josh kept his foot in the big HUMMER crossing the finish line at 9:30 AM Saturday morning. Not only did the Team HUMMER Pick-up dominate the Stock-Full class but also finished in front of the winner of the heavily modified Class 8 Pick-up class.

Meanwhile, team owner Rod Hall was having a good day in the new HUMMER H2 SUV but the race was not without problems for the 17 time winner of the 'Baja 1000'. The H2 had been performing well during the first 140 miles, running within a minute of the leaders and moving between 2nd and 3rd place. At one point he pulled out to pass his son, Chad, who was not about to eat his father's dust, whereupon he (Chad) picked up the pace and assured himself, for the moment, that dad would remain in second. Shortly after that, a ball joint on an upper control arm failed in the H2 and Hall was forced to park it long enough to make repairs in the field. Fortunately Hall had a spare on board and teammate Thad Stump, project manager from the GM Proving Grounds on the H2 racing project to make the necessary repairs,

Unfortunately, when the ball joint pulled out of the upper control arm assembly, one of the front brake lines was ripped in half. Hall and Stump were able to crimp the brake line tight enough so they could partially restore the braking system but this is not a repair that can be properly accomplished on the course without specialized equipment. So the H2 was driven cautiously across the mountain range which stood between them and the next pit using only the rear brakes. At the second BFGoodrich pit, 204 miles into the race, they were able to make more permanent repairs and change driv- ers. After a few minutes the brakes were restored and Mike Winkel took the wheel with navigator Dave Cumming in the second seat, as they began chasing the field, the last of which was now over two hours in front of them. The #862 Team HUMMER SUV drove through the night, before moving into third place just before the Puertocitos BFG pit at race-mile 578. At 7:20 AM, after fueling the truck, Hall/Stump again took over the controls of the H2 for the run to the finish and got back onto the course with a 3 minute lead over Matt and Noah Pike in the #879 Ford Exhibition. Hall turned up the wick and by the next BFG pit at race-mile 707, had tacked over an hour and a half onto that lead and was solidly in third heading into the last 100 miles.

The distance between the H2 and second place was too great to overcome in only 100 miles. Hall pushed the Team HUMMER SUV to a pace he was comfortable with given his concerns about the Ball Joint and managed to make up a few hours on the #863 Ford Exhibition but, in the end it was not enough. Nonetheless, Team HUMMER was pleased with the per- formance of the new H2 race truck. What seemed a steep learning curve at the first race is now beginning to flatten out. After only our second race on the new vehicle the H2 has proven itself to be a com- petitive race truck. The drive train is totally reliable and with a few minor suspension adjustments and an aggressive testing schedule, Team HUMMER looks forward to winning our share of races with the H2 in 2004.

Finishing First and Third at the 'Baja 1000' is an impressive accomplishment for Team HUMMER. This level of success would simply not have been possible without the support we receive from our sponsors and the hands on assistance from the BFGoodrich Pits and people like John Klatte from AMGeneral and the H2 team of Thad Stump, Doug Moore, Dave Cumming, Carl Perez and Jeff Hamm from the GM Proving Ground in Mesa, AZ. Thank you all for helping out.

The final race of the 2003 season for Team HUMMER is the Best in the Desert Las Vegas 200, Dec. 5-7, 2003 in Las Vegas, NV.

-grt-

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Series Score
Drivers Mark Stein , Rod Hall