Losing A Legend: Off-Roaders Mourn Loss Of Rod Hall

With heartfelt condolences to the entire Hall family and the off-road community, one of off-roads legends has crossed the final finish line. On June 14th, Rod Hall passed away after his longtime battle with Progress Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) for the last few years. PSP is a rare brain disorder with similar symptoms as Parkinson’s disease.

Hall was at home with his wife Donna and their family in Reno, Nevada. Hall was 81 years old and his family reported that he passed away peacefully in his sleep. The legacy of Rod Hall will forever be ingrained in off-road history forever. Hall will always be considered one of the all-time great racers in history.

Some of Hall’s racing accolades include being the only person to race in every one of the first 50 SCORE Baja 1000 races, a SCORE-record 25 class wins in the Baja 1000, 18 class wins in the SCORE Baja 500, four in the SCORE San Felipe 250, and two each in the SCORE Desert Challenge and in the SCORE Las Vegas Terrible’s Primm 300. He also had 10 class wins in the Mint 400, 10 more in the old SCORE Parker 400 and 12 in the old SCORE Fireworks 250.

Hall was a 2005 inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and served in many capacities for ORMHOF to help keep the organization moving forward. Hall was more than just a racer is was a great spokesperson for the off-road community.

Off-Roaders Remember Rod Hall

The out poor support for the Hall family could be seen on social media. Hall touched numerous people across the industry.

“As Rod’s teammate in 1999 and 2000, he was a good friend and his mentoring was the reason I became good enough to win races,” remembered long-time friend and SCORE Trophy Truck racing champion Roger Norman, who also has a home in Reno. “Rod was not only one of the first true desert racers, but his longevity in the sport also was unmatched and his life touched so many people. I feel very fortunate to have been one of those people to have been close to him and his wonderful family.”

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Deeply saddened by the passing of off-road racing legend #RodHall. During our conversations together he was always a very humble and very happy. His heart was filled with love for our sport, he loved racing and all the people involved in our sport. I really loved this guy and what he stood for. Everyone loved Rod. A mention of Rods skill set. Rod dominated in stock full class for decades. Yes, decades. He even had a three year win streak winning 38 races in a row. Rod also competed in every single Baja 1000 since 1967 and his list of victories and accomplishments are very long and distinguished. Rod you will be dearly missed by our entire off-road racing family. Thank you for your contribution to this sport and the people in it. Our conversations in San Felipe will be something I will never forget. To this day you are the only person that has said anything like that to me, it was one of the best compliments I have ever received. Those remarks from a Champion in Motorsports, an Icon of our sport and a Champion in life that I will hold onto forever. Rod you set an example of mental toughness and perseverance that none of us will ever forget. It was always a pleasure spending time with you. Thank you for that time brother. Rest easy. 🙏🏻

A post shared by BJ Baldwin (@bjbaldwin) on

If you were apart of off-road racing and off-road in general your path would have crossed with Hall. There was no way it could not.

“Rod Hall was one of the founding fathers of desert racing and certainly a major pillar in the history of SCORE desert racing,” Sal Fish, who led SCORE from 1974 through 2012, said. “Rod was one of the elite racers for over 40 years but he always maintained his humble personality and was as approachable, as friendly and as open with a handshake and a friendly smile as the first time I met him when I did a little racing back in 1969.”

“He was a tremendous spokesperson for our sport and truly the first factory-backed racer in SCORE history,” Fish continued. “And his tenure as a factory driver lasted until his last win in 2017, the longest for anyone in our sport. He will be missed by all of us who have ever stepped foot in the desert.”

Hall’s Continued Racing History

A legacy is an understatement when talking about Hall. He was involved in many avenues of off-road and started many things that the community still sees today.

  • 1975 –  prominent vehicle builder Bill Stroppe entered into an agreement with Dodge to manage their off-road program. Hall, along with long-time co-rider and friend, Jim Fricker, was assigned to the production 4WD Dodge. The team had moderate success during the first year, but in 1977, Hall began a winning streak that lasted into the next decade driving the Class 4 Dodge to an unbroken string of 37 consecutive SCORE and HDRA victories, a record which likely will remain forever.
  • 1982 –  Hall gained international recognition when he finished second in the Marlboro Safari Rally, in Kenya, Africa. Two years later he won the marathon 12,500-mile Repco Reliability Trials across Australia and returned in 1985 to win the Australian Production 4WD Class Championship.
  • 1993 – Hall switched from Dodge to Hummer after some preliminary testing in Moab, Utah convinced him that the Hummer is indeed the ‘Ultimate Four-Wheel Drive’ vehicle. In their first race, Hall and his youngest son Chad, finished first and second in the Stock Full production Class at the SCORE Baja 1000, beating the competition not by minutes, but by hours.
  • 1996 – Rod and Chad Hall organized the first all-American team to ever finish the torturous 4700-mile Dakar Rally, finishing fourth and fifth in class driving specially prepared Rod Hall Hummers.
  • 2017 – Hall teamed up with Chevrolet to test and produce off-road performance parts for the Colorado ZR2. They went on to race and win the 2017 BITD Vegas to Reno race with the ZR2 and their parts.

Rod Hall lead the way helping vehicle manufacturers push the limits of their vehicles.

The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame announced they will be having a memorial service open to all, but the date is still to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in Hall’s memory would be appreciated.

About the author

Steven Olsewski

Steven Olsewski grew up with a true passion for anything with a motor. He loves his wife and kids, and during the year can be found enjoying quality time together. They are a huge part of his life and their passion for God.
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