Rod Hall, a giant of off-road competition, dies at age 81

If you have a personal connection to the American southwest, and the varieties of desert motorsports that are practiced there, you know the name and reputation of Rod Hall. Before people like Parnelli Jones, Mickey Thompson, James Garner and Robby Gordon were slinging dirt amidst the sagebrush, Rod Hall was there and winning. So much so, in fact, that he won more desert and off-road races than anybody else in the history of the sport, in a career that went back to the 1960s. He died this past weekend.

This photo from NORRA, the National Off-Road Racing Association, shows Hall with the vehicle that carried him to what was arguably his most famous win, an overall victory in the 1969 Baja 1000, the third running of that arduous event. Hall drove a factory-backed 1969 Ford Bronco to the win, a vehicle that was obviously prepped for the Baja Peninsula’s relentless pounding but was still a lot closer to stock than the Big Oly Bronco that Parnelli campaigned a few years later, which was more akin to a drag racing Funny Car that happened to run in the dirt. Hall would never notch another overall win in the Baja 1000, but still competed in an incredible 50 consecutive runnings of the desert classic, scoring 25 class victories along the way. His final Baja run came in 2017 when he was nearly 80. During the 1980s, driving Dodge pickups for Bill Stroppe, Hall and co-driver Jim Fricker took an amazing 37 consecutive SCORE and HDRA desert wins, a record that will likely never be challenged. Not only that, but Hall placed high in the Marlboro Safari Rally in Kenya, at the 12,500-mile Repco Reliability Run in Australia, and became the first All-American team to finish the Paris-Dakar Rally aboard a Hummer with his son, Chad. Today, his Nevada-based company, Rod Hall Parts, specializes in performance components for the Hummer H1.

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