Hall of Fame
Nobody Knows Baja Like Rod Hall
Some racers spend their whole careers trying to complete the entire Baja 1000 course. But one driver not only managed to beat the odds his very first time out but has racked up enough miles battling the Baja to circle the earth. In 1967, racing fixture Rod Hall swept the four-wheel-drive truck class, earning his first taste of Baja glory. Three decades later, the challenge is still alive, but the pressure is off.
Rod Hall started his career 30 years ago in Mexico with a CJ-5. Now Hall breaks new ground
"This was one of my most enjoyable races," Hall said. "I don't have anything to prove. I stay involved to keep up with the times."
While a win in 1997 would have provided the perfect bookend to 30 unbroken years of experience, unfortunately, it was not to be. "The Hummer had a flawless race from start to finish," Hall reported. With no flats, no down time, and perfect pit support, this was the type of race that most drivers only dream about. "The only problem was that the Fords beat me this year," Hall noted.
But that's not a crushing blow to a driver who has one overall win and 15 class wins to his credit. Hall's enthusiasm and genuine love for the sport (he actually waves at spectators during competition) has produced a loyal following and a healthy band of sponsors, which include AM General Hummer and Snap-on Tools. Most recently, Hall led a team of Americans to a first-ever successful Paris-Dakar effort in an American-made vehicle.
But during that first sanctioned race in 1967, when the world had yet to discover global satellite positioning and the only thing people surfed were waves, Hall drove a Jeep CJ-5--"The only brand-new vehicle I bought in my life." In that early race, Hall won the four-wheel-drive class, which was plenty of motivation to participate in the next race. And he has continued ever since. "It's amazing how you can build a business out of a hobby," he added.