What does it take to become a legend? The definition varies from person to person, but most would agree that it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. One man who has given all that, and then some, is Rod Hall. The racer has been in just about every major off-road event since his career began in the mid-1960s, and he’s earned more than his fair share of medals and accolades since then.
But the word “retirement” is not one that suits the man. Now age 79, Hall is doing anything but slowing down; if anything, he’s speeding up, as he prepares to head to the NORRA Mexican 1000 next week. He’s doing so behind the wheel of his trusty, Bill Stroppe-built, first-generation Ford Bronco, the vehicle that’s most closely associated with his rise in the racing world.
Hall was in his twenties when he got his first taste of off-road racing, and cemented his status as a competent and well-skilled competitor early on. 1964 marked his first victory as he won the Afton Canyon Jeep Junket near Riverside, California. Three years later, Hall entered the Mexican 1000 in a CJ-5 and won. He gained the attention of racing magnate Bill Stroppe, and along with co-driver Larry Minor, Hall took another victory in 1969 behind the wheel of his famous Bronco.
The ’70s marked Hall’s segue into Mopar territory, an era where he seemed almost unbeatable. He and co-rider Jim Fricker drove a four-wheel-drive Dodge truck and reached new heights in 1977, when a winning streak began that carried over well into the 1980s. When all was said and done, Hall had achieved 37 consecutive wins across SCORE and HDRA events. Dodge lauded Hall’s successes with special Rod Hall Edition pickups, sold in 1987 and 1990.
Hall moved onto Hummer in the 1990s, and along with his son Chad, the duo won first and second place in the Full-Stock Production Class in 1993. He took an H3 in 2005 and won Best in the Desert’s Vegas to Reno, and then took three more class wins in the 2007, 2009, and 2012 Baja 1000 races.
Home is where the heart is, and the Baja peninsula is essentially Hall’s home at this point. Since 1967, he’s participated in every single Baja 1000. For the 2016 NORRA 1000, he’s bringing the Bronco back for more hair-raising off-road action. It’s the same one that gave him his win in 1969, and the only four-wheel-drive vehicle to ever win overall in the history of Baja races.
The vehicle was restored and raced last year, up to which point it had been nearly forgotten and left in a junkyard. It found its way back to Hall in 2003, and now equipped with his noble steed, Hall has the will ride once more.
“This Bronco … is going to be the best-prepped and restored vehicle in the event,” said Hall in a recent video. We look forward to hearing how he and his team do at the Mexican 1000, and salute him for his undying love of off-road motorsports.