Now this is a shock! This monster is mounted on the new H1 Alpha race truck.
It isn't long before we pass our first competitor, and one by one, Josh reels them in. A friendly blast, and then a not-so-friendly blast of the train horn moves them over, clearing the way for the imposing H2. Near the silt beds, we catch up to another truck and a race breaks out. Blowing through the nasty silt, Josh veers to the side of the road where it is harder packed and passes yet another racer in a flurry of dust and exploding bushes. This ride is amazing; the H2 is much faster than I expected. It isn't the fastest I've ever gone, but dodging obstacles at speed, yet respecting the limits of the machine (which are quite high) give me new respect for Hummer's H2. I have rockcrawled in Jeeps, I have taken our Power Wagon over Hell's Gate-stock-and I have wheeled in the backcountry of Africa, but I have never enjoyed dirt the way I was experiencing it today.
What makes this even more remarkable is that all of Team Hummer's vehicles compete in the stock class, meaning that they have to remain as close to stock as possible, with modifications limited to things like tires, shocks, and springs-things that don't fundamentally change the design of the vehicle and can be had from your local dealer. The H2 is mostly stock, including the frame, wheels, and body. Even the control arms, CV axles, e-Locker, transfer case, power steering, and braking system are all stock. The rules do allow for axle reinforcements, but the H2 didn't require any and still has the stock axlehousings and gearing. Shocks are special Fox reservoir units that better deal with the extreme temperatures of racing and do increase travel a bit over stock, with one shock per corner up front and four in the rear. Torsion bars are sourced from a GM HD truck, but the rear springs are factory pieces. The engine is a stock 6.0L block, but has a bump in compression, bringing horsepower up to 345, 20 more than stock, which helps to offset the larger 37-inch BFGoodrich racing tires. The radiator has more cooling capacity than stock, but the oil and tranny coolers both came from the factory.
It is surprising to me at the amount of abuse the 7,200-pound race truck can take, and it rides smoother than expected. That's not to say smooth, mind you, as the H2 only has 9 inches of front travel and 11 inches of rear travel, but the several hours of racing are akin to a 250-mile car crash, yet the adrenaline is pumping and we hardly feel a thing.
After swapping out somewhere around the halfway point with one of the regular co-drivers-Crew Chief Sam Cothrun (the other co-driver is GM project engineer Thad Stump, who can also be considered the mad scientist behind the H2 and apparently knows the ins and outs of this truck, and the H3, better than his own toolbox)-I join the chase team in mildly modified Hummers, listening to the progress of all three vehicles on the radio, before heading to the finish line to rejoin Josh and Sam, who have once again crossed it as winners of their class, earning me a BFGoodrich tires "Winner" hat. This is good since Josh has absconded with my recently acquired Four Wheeler hat.
Winners, left to right: Bob Bower, Rod Hall, Sean Holman, and Josh Hall.
It wasn't all about the H2, though, as Chad and the H1 Alpha race truck completed their first race, and Rod Hall crossed the finish line for the third win in the new H3 race truck. All in all it was a great showing for Team Hummer.
Despite popular belief, racing isn't just for marketing purposes; there is some real value in what the race program brings to the Hummer brand. With all of the data that comes from Team Hummer, the brand has instituted many running changes to the production vehicles, ranging from bushings to driveline components, ensuring that Hummer consumers directly benefit from the knowledge learned from racing.
I must express my appreciation to Team Hummer for the experience, and take my hat off to all of the people it takes to make a race team possible. I also want to thank the Halls for their hospitality and allowing me to be a member of the team. If they ever need help co-driving again, they know I'll be ready.
2006 Hummer H1 Alpha No. 8102 Owner: Rod Hall Motorsports Vehicle Construction: Cumm
2004 Hummer H2 No. 4101 Driver: Josh Hall Co-Rider: Thad Stump/Sam Cothrun Crew Chi
2006 Hummer H3 No. 3111 Owner: Rod Hall Motorsports Vehicle Construction: GM Desert