OK, so he wasn't the overall four-wheel winner, but Rod Hall has accomplished something in the Mexican desert that no one else can claim: He has participated in every single Baja 1000 since the race began in 1967. And this year he, with co-drivers Emily Miller and Mike Winkel, won the Stock Mini class in a Hummer H3. This marks his 21st class win in Baja-also a record. Congrats, Rod!
The four-wheel overall winners of the 2009 Baja 1000 were Andy McMillin and his father, Scott, driving their McMillin Racing Chevy Silverado. They completed the 672-mile course in 14 hours 19 minutes, with an average speed of 46.95 mph. The Hall Stock Mini Hummer averaged 23.38 mph, slowed no doubt by some downtime early in the race when a steering rack seal didn't survive a hit to the front end.
"You'd be surprised how much abuse the H3 can take," said Hall.
Super Duty Gets Super Tranny Ford is working hard to drum up excitement for the '11 Super Duty truck coming out this spring, and we can't resist a good technical cutaway photo, so here's more on the upcoming heavy-duty F-Series.
The new 6R140 TorqShift six-speed automatic was designed specifically to handle the high torque loads coming from the new 6.7L Power Stroke diesel (we don't know just how much torque, though, since Ford has yet to release power numbers for the engine). Yet it also has to accommodate the higher engine speeds from Ford's new 6.2L gas V-8, which will also be available in the Super Duty.
Ford engineers incorporated a powder-metal carrier in the transmission's planetary gearset to strengthen the tranny's architecture, while also utilizing a Lepelletier-style powerflow to reduce the complexity in the gearset and clutches. A deep First gear-nope, no ratio was offered by Ford-will improve off-the-line performance, while two overdrives-again, no details offered-will help fuel economy.
The Super Duty's release date is almost here, so we should have these missing details and more to share with you soon.
This Just In •Just after getting the news about this year's Go Topless Day for Jeeps, we were saddened to hear that Norman Wnuk, founder of All Things Jeep, died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the age of 44. Norman's wife, Jean, plans to keep the business going as a tribute to her husband.
•A study by Consumer Reports has found that there were more complaints about unintended acceleration in '08 Toyota vehicles than in Chrysler, GM, Honda, and Nissan vehicles combined, reports the Los Angeles Times. Toyota has issued a massive recall to modify or replace accelerator pedals in the affected vehicles (including Tundra and Tacoma pickups), as the automaker believes interference between the pedal and floor mats is the root of the incidents. But a study by the Times found that the number of sudden acceleration complaints "increased dramatically" after Toyota began using drive-by-wire electronic throttle systems in 2002. Toyota said it would not comment on the findings until it had reviewed the study.
•An optional remote start system will be available in the '11 Super Duty pickup when it goes on sale in the spring. Ford will eventually make the option available across its product line. When coupled with an automatic climate control system, the remote start will heat (or cool) the truck's cab before you get in.
•EBay Motors now offers free vehicle history reports through an agreement with Experian's AutoCheck for vehicles '81 and earlier. Among the services offered by AutoCheck is a history score, from 1 to 100, summarizing all the information in a vehicle's history.
Earth Watch •Tread Lightly!, in conjunction with California State Parks, has scheduled four trainer courses and two master trainer courses in California for 2010. These classes are for dedicated volunteers interested in sharing the Tread Lightly! message with their club, local schools, nature centers, and on the trail. For more information, see www.treadlightly.org.
•Speaking of Tread Lightly!, Goodyear is offering a $100 rebate to any individual member of the organization that buys a set of four Wrangler tires. The offer is good through August 31, 2010. Visit www.treadlightly.org for details and a rebate form.
Jeep Brand To expand Last month we brought you highlights of Chrysler's plans under the direction of Fiat management. We learned a few more details about what's in store for Jeep from an interview Automotive News conducted with Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. He believes Jeep's position as an off-road brand has limited its sales potential. "Staying in the corner where it stayed, Jeep has allowed everybody else to occupy a space which probably does not belong to them," he said. "We have to go back and reclaim that territory."
That means crossovers, folks. Fiat-based, all-wheel-drive crossovers are due to join the Jeep lineup in 2013. One will be about the size of a Honda Fit. We can only hope it will be as interesting as the Jeep Renegade diesel/electric hybrid concept shown in Detroit a couple years ago.
New ARB for ford Owners of '97-'08 Ford F-150 pickups as well as Expedition and Navigator SUVs of the same vintage can finally have an ARB Air Locker. The new RD150 fits Ford's 93/4-inch axle and is made from heavy, cross-sectioned nodular cast iron. Retail price is $1,094.50, and ARB is accepting orders now. Visit www.arbusa.com for more info.
Gordon Wins SCORE Championship Robby Gordon finished Fifth at the recent Baja 1000, but he just needed to finish to clinch SCORE's Overall Points Championship and Trophy-Truck Championship. Gordon's record in SCORE for the '09 season included a win at the Laughlin Desert Challenge, runner-up in the San Felipe 250, a top 10 finish in the Baja 500, and another win at the Primm 300. Gordon was also one of 14 racers to earn a 2009 SCORE Toyota Milestone Award for completing every required mile of every race. Gordon's double championship marks a first for major sponsor Toyo Tires.
Go Topless In May All Things Jeep is hosting the third annual Go Topless Day for Jeep owners May 8. While the "flagship" top-down event will be held in Lancaster, Massachusetts, near All Things Jeep's headquarters, the accessories retailer is encouraging Jeep clubs around the world to take part. The company is also donating a portion of the proceeds from Topless Day T-shirt sales to benefit Tread Lightly! To find out more about joining them or hosting your own Topless Day festivities, visit www.allthingsjeep.com.
Cooper & Toyota Compete In Dakar Cooper Tires teamed with Toyota to form a team to compete in the South American Dakar Rally. A Land Cruiser KXR was shod with Cooper Discoverer STT tires for the two-week-long endurance event, which was held in January. Find out how they did by logging on to toyotacoopertire.com.
Golden Cap Giveaway Charles Dickerson of Tampa got a special surprise when he bought an ARE CX-series cap for his F-150. Inside the cap was the last ticket in ARE's Golden Cap Giveaway, entitling him to 40 crisp $20 bills. ARE launched the sweepstakes to celebrate its 40th anniversary and attached golden tickets near the serial numbers inside 40 randomly selected caps and covers. The first 39 cap buyers who found the special tickets received $40.
Club Spotlight Military Jeepers Donate Toys for Tots The Fort Leonard Wood chapter of Military Jeepers, together with Toys for Tots of Springfield, Missouri, and the Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch (SMORR), hosted a trail ride to collect toys and cash donations to support Toys for Tots. The 324th USMC sent an HMMWV and two Marines to accept donations. An estimated 100 toys and about $200 in cash helped fill the Marines' Hummer.
The day's events included guided trail rides, a ball-and-barrel race, and a very entertaining woods race. After some serious coaxing the Marines took part in the ball-and-barrel race and did a great job. Larry Schrecengost guided a small group of Military Jeepers on some level-three trails, and the day ended with venison BBQ.
Thanks go to Brandon Powell and the SMORR staff, who set up the events, and to Fred Stilling for his coordination efforts. Special thanks go to Sgt. Shoemaker's detail and Toys for Tots for allowing us to help out kids in these rough times, to the SMORR staff, and to Aaron LaRose of Ozark Jeep Thing for making this their monthly club run. Without them the event would not have turned out as well. -Larry Schrecengost
Calendar •Mar. 5-7: 48th annual Desert Safari by Tierra Del Sol, Truckhaven Hills, Ocotillo Wells SVRA near Borrego Springs, CA. Information: www.tds4x4.com, www.tdsdesertsafari.com
•Mar. 5-7: Superlift ORV Park Manager's Special Run, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Information: 501.625.3600, www.orvpark.com
•Mar. 12-14: Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 desert race, San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico. Information: SCORE International, 818-225-8402, www.score-international.com
•Mar. 13-14: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Information: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
•Mar. 19-21: National JK Jamboree hosted by TexasJK.com, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Information: 501.625.3600, www.orvpark.com
•Mar. 19-22: Death Valley Adventure, Death Valley National Park, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Information: 310. 374.8047, www.4x4training.com
•Mar. 20: CORVA Family Fun Run, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA. Information: www.corva.org
•Mar. 20: Dog Party II, Twisted Trails Off Road Park, Copemish, MI. Information: 231.651.9548, www.twistedtrailsoffroadpark.com
•Mar. 20-21: Beginning 4x4 Training, Truckhaven Hills, Ocotillo Wells SVRA near Borrego Springs, CA, by Off-Road Teach & Tour Adventures. Information: www.discoveroffroading.com
•Mar. 25: North Rim Adventure, Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Information: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
•Mar. 25-27: Texas Spur Spring Jeep Jamboree, Llano, TX. Information: Jeep Jamboree USA, 530.333.4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
•Mar. 25-28: General Tire Mint 400 desert race (includes JeepSpeed Challenge), Las Vegas, NV. Information: SNORE, www.snoreracing.net
•Mar. 27-Apr. 4: Easter Jeep Safari, Moab, UT, by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers. Information: www.rr4w.com
•Mar. 29-Apr. 2: Easter Safari for First Timers, Moab, UT, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Information: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
•Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event and contact info-phone numbers and/or email/website address-to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.