A Day In the Desert With Off-Road Legend Rod Hall

Apr. 18, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez
Rod Hall has over 160 major off-road racing victories, spanning five decades and four continents. He's one of the most successful drivers in off-road history.

How often does one have the chance to spend a day in the desert with an off-road legend--especially when that legend is Rod Hall? Not often, so when we had the opportunity to bid for such an adventure at this year’s Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF) fundraiser, we were all over it!

2011 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inducteess Ron Bishop (left) and Rob MacCachren (right). Photo compliments of ORMHOF.

The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame was able to raise over $10,000 during their Silent Auction and Installation of living legends Ron Bishop and Rob MacCachren at the 2011 Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo. Auction items consisted of racing memorabilia, Goodyear tires, King of The Hammers race entry and even wine--to list a few. We were the lucky winners of “A Day in the Desert with Rod Hall.”

When we found out the adventure would take place outside of Reno, Nevada, we decided it would be a great opportunity to also visit the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, a place we’d been wanting to visit for quite some time.

A day was set and we were off.


Up until this point, our only reference to Reno, Nevada, were off-road races and Comedy Central’s Reno 911.  Although we didn’t run into Lt. Dangel or the Reno Sheriffs Dept. on this trip, we did manage to find a great deal of excitement on the streets of the “Biggest Little City in The World.” Casinos, entertainment, food and millions of lights make this place magical.

We stayed at the Atlantis Hotel & Casino where lodging accommodations were top notch. A great place to base camp for a weekend adventure or week stay in Reno, NV.

After checking in, we made a short drive to downtown Reno where the Automotive Museum is located. We met with Rod Hall at the ORMHOF inside the museum.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, Ed Pearlman, the very man who gave birth to the NORRA Mexican 1000 (better known to us whipper-snappers as the Baja 1000), had a vision to celebrate those people that made the sport what it is today. Mr. Pearlman started the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978. Although Pearlman's intentions were good, he was never able to find a permanent venue to house the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and keep it growing.  Enter Rod Hall.

When we met with Rod Hall inside the National Automobile Museum, we were also pleasantly greeted by Gordon Horsley, one of the instrumental people to bringing the ORMHOF to Reno, NV. Mr. Horsley gave us a personal tour of the Museum that ranges from Volkswagens to Bugattis.

In 1995, Rod Hall acquired the NORRA series and Ed Pearlman's off-road motorsports collection. Rod Hall was able to bring the Off-Road Motorsporst Hall of Fame back to life after a 15-years hiatus. He introduced the idea of making Reno its home to Gordon Horsley, Board Member of the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV. The wheels started turning and the rest is history. The Off-Road Motorsporst Hall of Fame is alive once again and now has a reputable place to house the collection and inductee wall.

Vehicle on display are as big as the off-road legends that drove them to victory. The McMillin Class 1 driven by Corky McMillan is prominently displayed upon entering the hall. 

The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame is a special place for Rod Hall. The plan is to continue growing the exhibit and add more off-road interest pieces, such as the history of off-road suspension, lighting, and tires. It’s amazing how things have evolved over the years in the sport of off-road.

How can you miss the massive Alpha H1 Hummer that raced in Baja and Dakar with Rod Hall behind the wheel? You’ll also find motorcycles inside ORMHF, including this KTM raced by Davey Durelle that broke a record racing Pike’s Peak, and Baja 1000 winning Kawasaki KX500 ridden by Larry Roeseler.
For you Ford buffs, Vessell’s F-150 and the 1966 Stroppe Bronco that won 1969 “Mexican 1000” are crowd pleasers. There’s even a Mayer’s Manx – the list goes on!

The Reno Automotive museum is a “must-do” for any automotive buff.  In addition to ORMHOF, one can also visit other collections ranging from early steam powered cars, European exotics, American Iron to rare overland vehicles like the Thomas flyer—winner of the New York to Paris race in 1908.

We believe that Ed Pearlman and Rod Hall’s vision of having a place where off-road motorsport history can be celebrated is great. In order for this to happen, continued support from the Off-Road industry, racers and enthusiast is needed.

Whether it be making a visit, a donation or simply spreading the word--every bit helps to grow and keep off-road motorsports history alive. To get involved visit http://ormhof.org/

It was an all-Hummer run, and rightfully so. The Hall family has been the poster child and strongest figure for Hummer’s off-road program. They successfully raced and campaigned the Hummer H1, H2 and H3.

After spending a day in Reno, Nev., exploring the city and the great Automotive Museum and Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, we were excited to spend the day in the desert with Rod Hall.

We met early in the morning at the Atlantis Hotel & Casino for a day of fun in the Nevada desert. Rod Hall invited some of his friends and family to come out with us.  Chad Hall, Alec and Shelby were ready for fun. Tom and JP were equipped and ready to give us the grand tour of the Reno desert.

We had Rod’s Alpha H1 Hummer, JPs H1 Hummer Wagon, Chad’s H2, and Tom’s H2 on the run. Beth and I rode out with Rod in his Alpha. We enjoyed all the history and color Rod Hall shared about the Nevada desert with us.

Next Page... A Day With Rod Hall Continued

Off-Road.com Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!