SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - July 2019

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 15 of 91

A Tribute To An Off-Road Legend Rod Hall’s 50-years of challenging Baja brought inspiration to SCORE racers during his off-road motorsports career By Dan Sanchez Among SCORE racers and off-road enthusiasts, Rod Hall was one of the elites who inspired others to compete in off-road motorsports. His career began during the dawn of off-road racing, competing in various events held in the Southwest. But his fame skyrocketed when he competed in the inaugural 1967 NORRA Mexican 1000 in a Jeep CJ-5, and eventually winning the race overall in 1969 driving a four-wheel drive Ford Bronco with Larry Minor. “I bought a new Jeep from Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer, Brian Chuchua, for $1,700 cash and we went racing,” said Hall in a 2017 interview. Before the start of the race, Hall recalled modifying the Jeep by adding an additional shock at each wheel, which according to him, just made it ride even worse. “We didn’t know about extra wheel travel and better suspension in those days,” said Hall. “Brian, however, wanted to know if I wanted the stock three-leaf spring setup or a thirteen-leaf spring suspension in the Jeep. Hell, you’d think thirteen leaves would be better, but boy was I wrong. It rode like a wheel barrel.” In those early years, racers like Hall relied on old maps instead of modern GPS systems. Hall recalled that Bill Hardy from Jeep Communications handed him a compass and pointed due southeast to stay on course and not to stray off a southeast direction. “Hardy assured us that La Paz was southeast of Tijuana, and so for our first Baja 1000 race, we kept the needle pointed that way,” said Hall. According to Hall, they set out from Tijuana and raced with sandwiches made by Hall’s wife and the pocket compass. Hall raced to the halfway point at El Arco when things started to happen, and if not for a Mexican local, they may have never finished the race. “This guy comes up to us as we sat there and said that a guy in a Bronco was only ten minutes ahead,” said Hall. “It was Bill Stroppe, and we were intent on catching him, so we unloaded extra weight like our big toolbox. I hated hearing the tools rattling around.” Hall and Minor ultimately found the finish line, but he didn’t win the race. It was a point-to-point race that had never been attempted, and although they didn’t win, Hall and Minor became instantly hooked on desert racing. Two years later, they would go on to win the ’69 Mexican 1000 in record time in a Bill Stroppe Ford Bronco. “That was the real beginning of my career,” said Hall. Ironically, as modern SCORE Trophy Trucks are now moving into All-Wheel Drive, Hall remains as the only racer to win a SCORE Baja 1000 overall in a four-wheel drive vehicle. After his Overall Baja 1000 win Hall continued racing in SCORE events with the Stroppe team. Eventually Hall managed Stroppe’s Dodge team and in doing so, had a winning streak driving a Class 4 Dodge truck that has not been broken since. “I went about three and a half years one time winning 35-37 races in a row,” said Hall. “I was never a fast guy, but I learned how to win.” These wins were only the start of his career long achievements. Within SCORE International alone, his record is one of the most impressive, competing and finishing in every Baja 1000 race since its official start in 1967. Along the way, he earned 25 official SCORE Baja class wins. Hall also competed in several other international races, finishing second in the Marlboro Safari Rally in Kenya, Africa in 1982, then winning the 1984 12,500 mile Repco Reliability Trials in Australia, and winning the Australia Production 4WD Class Championship in 1985. In the early 1990s Hall began racing Hummer vehicles and earned a string of class wins with his son Chad Hall. Over his entire off-road racing career Rod Hall won more than 150 major off-road racing events, but he always made sure to compete in the one race that ignited his career, the SCORE Baja 1000. As he approached 80 years of age in 2017, Hall was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease. Despite his weakening condition, however, he finished the 50th SCORE Baja 1000 in the Hall Racing H1 Hummer with his son Chad, winning he Stock Full Class. “I think that every good time comes to an end,” said Hall after crossing the finish line at the 2017 50th SCORE Baja 1000. “It’s been a good run and the best part of Baja is the people down here. It was important to me for my last race to be a win. My best race, however, was in ’69 with Minor. We were racing the Bronco and we won it overall and even beat the motorcycles by ten minutes. But I didn’t get a bigger thrill out of winning overall than just winning my class.” While everyone in the off-road motorsports community mourns the passing of Rod Hall in June of 2019, his legacy left many racers and teams with inspirational memories that will continue to be remembered.

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