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BAJA CALIFORNIA, Mexico - Building on solid experience gained earlier this year, Team HUMMER and the all-new H2 race vehicle are ready for the rigors of the prestigious Baja 1000 off-road race.

Team HUMMER announced its commitment to field the H2 in the 2003 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, as well as a schedule of Best in the Desert (BITD) 2003 and 2004 races, and the 2004 Baja 1000. Team HUMMER also will field an H1 truck in the 2003 Baja 1000.

Driven by off-road racing legend Rod Hall, the Team HUMMER H2 competes in the Full Stock class and benefits from integrated support of GM's development engineering group based at the Desert Proving Ground in Arizona. It is the only known H2 competing in the Full Stock class.

"The H2 has already proven itself to be a competitive vehicle and the Baja 1000 is the toughest way to spotlight its considerable capabilities," said Hall.

Although Team HUMMER and GM development engineers have enjoyed a supportive relationship during the past decade, the H2 marks the first time the engineering group has gotten involved in an active racing program.

The close-to-stock configuration of the race vehicle provides engineers an additional method of observing the H2 in "worst case" driving situations. Evaluations of the vehicle's performance provide valuable feedback that can be used in the continual refinement of current products and the development of future HUMMER vehicles.

"Races like the Baja 1000 reinforce HUMMER's position as the ultimate off-road vehicle," said Hall. "That the H2 could be competitive so quickly says a lot about the vehicle and the people who designed it."

To conform to Full Stock class requirements, the H2 racing vehicle has a stock frame and suspension design - including the stock springs - but racing shocks are used. The H2's standard full-time four-wheel-drive system is used, with its "open" center differential is locked for racing. Gearing in the front and rear differentials is changed to improve acceleration with the vehicle's taller racing tires. Also, the stock 6.0-liter V-8 engine is slightly modified to produce more power for improved high-rpm sustainability.

The H2 racing vehicle's bodywork is stock, but auxiliary exterior lighting is added, along with substantial underbody shielding. The vehicle's interior is transformed into a racing ****pit, featuring a safety cage, fuel cell, spare tire, tools and other necessary equipment.

Unique relationshipA cooperative relationship between Team HUMMER and the GM development engineering group quickly brought the H2 racing program to the Baja 1000's starting line. It was forged from the longstanding relationship between GM/HUMMER and Rod Hall International, which has fielded the Team HUMMER H1 SUV and H1 truck race vehicles for the last 10 years.

Engineers from the H2 production model's development team volunteered to assist with the H2 racing effort, including building the race vehicle at the Desert Proving Ground and delivering it to Rod Hall International, in Reno, Nev., for fine-tuning and testing.

"The engineering group is integral with this racing effort," said Hall. "We showed them where to put the safety equipment, but they built the vehicle with an inside knowledge of the H2 that we simply didn't have."

In addition to building the race vehicle, the development engineering group also provides technical consultation, parts support and even crew member volunteers for all races, with increased support for longer races such as the Baja 1000.

"Everybody at the proving ground is excited to be part of the racing effort," said Thad Stump, engineering liaison. "A lot of us are off-road enthusiasts, so the chance to contribute to Rod's team is a dream come true."

Engineering group members also monitor information recorded by the H2's unique data acquisition computer, which provides feedback on component performance that can be used in production-model development.

A history of punishment
A grueling endurance race that can take even the fastest competitors more than 24 hours to complete, the Baja 1000 is the granddaddy of off-road races.

Named for its roughly-1,000-mile length (although the length of the course varies from year to year), the jarring course in Baja California is well known for its high attrition rate. Often, less than half the vehicles that start the race make it to the finish line.

The first 1,000-mile race was held in 1967, after Mexican officials devised a way to reign in the competitors of numerous unsanctioned races through the Baja California peninsula desert. The popularity of the race grew quickly, drawing hundreds of competitors each year to the unforgiving terrain.

Rod Hall competed in that inaugural race and every one since. He has competed there with Team HUMMER since 1993.
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