When Rod and Emily aren't driving, they are chasing the team to the next pit or checkpoint
In this race, simply finishing is an achievement. The man hours put into the event are incredible, as is the boost to the Mexican economy. Yes, tons of money gets spent on both sides of the border, with the majority coming from the working racers and teams themselves, even in these lean times.
When I signed up for the chance in 2006, the real reason was simply to ride with Hall, as I felt our driving styles were similar and knew it would be a crazy time back in the desert. Our first plan of attack was like most teams: usually a driver change at a checkpoint or pit as well as a co-driver change. Hall races with his partner Mike Winkle, Emily Miller, and sons Chad and Josh, depending on how their rides are doing. Hall also has a few co-drivers that I would swap with, depending how the race went.
I was scheduled to ride with Hall for a few hundred miles. As it happened, he rolled the H3 near the start line, which put the team a bit behind the clock. By the time it was my chance, he was out of the driver's seat. After repairs were made, I hopped in with Winkle for a wild nighttime dash through the lower Baja canyons, silt fields, and river crossings. While this wasn't riding with Hall, Winkle and I clicked, and I navigated him safely through the darkness as he boldly pressed on through the night. At the next checkpoint he and I hopped out so Hall could finish the race and win the class. I could always hope for next year.
Many racers take advantage of the BFG pits for fuel, food, and refreshment. This was also
In 2007 I was fortunate to ride with Josh Hall as he took his dad's ride to a class win. A
The whole crew from 2007 is what allowed the class wins for Rod Hall Racing. Celebrating H
Next year came another chance to ride with Hall, this time in the 40th Baja 1000 (2007). He had raced in every one of the previous 39 and won 18. Not only that, this was to be his 70th birthday, and he was still charging hard for the win. I was again scheduled a section with him midway, and I helped pit and waited patiently halfway down Baja, as this course went from Ensenada all the way to Cabo San Lucas.
But once again, circumstances changed during the night. After Josh Hall's Hummer H2 entry had issues, the team knew the best decision was for Josh and me to take his dad's No. 760 car down a ways, where the thought of winning could be anticipated. Josh's style was unique and exciting, and by now I had a very good appreciation and understanding of the car. Josh and I zinged through the night and day and some 500 miles that seemed a beautiful blur, and then I swapped out my seat and joined the chase team. I hadn't ridden with Hall, but considering that Josh brought the team car in for a class win-a true birthday gift for his dad-it was all worth the effort.
Hall's entry completed the 1,296-mile desert route from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas in 40 hours 4 minutes 30 seconds for an average speed of 32.35 mph.
Maybe next year I would get a chance to ride with Hall himself?
The '08 Baja 1000 started like most, except this time I was in the No. 760 car at the start, with Hall, so there was no chance of my not riding with the Master. Even if we only lasted to the first corner, I could finally say I rode with Rod Hall. Lucky for me the ride was a few hundred miles. A steering failure forced him to wrestle the H3 to a open spot, where the roving pit crew jumped into action. Even though I gave up my seat to another co-driver here, I had completed my mission of riding with the Master. More importantly, I had helped Hall and his team complete their mission of running another Baja 1000.
I'll miss the Baja 1000 this year, but there is no doubt that Hall and his crew will be there and will undoubtedly finish-and possibly win-the granddaddy of off-road races.