Rod Hall, 74, ready to tackle Baja 1000

Rod Hall today will compete once again in the Baja 1000. "It's more than a race for me," he said. Courtesy of Rod Hall Racing

Donna Hall, the wife of off-road racing legend Rod Hall, has a simple reason why her husband continues to race -- even as he approaches his 75th birthday next week:

"If he didn't have talent to drive a truck," she said, "he wouldn't have any talent at all."

Rod Hall, who has been married for 53 years, said his wife is joking, but there is some truth as he once again is set to embark on the Baja 1000 today.

"You know that opposites attract, right?" BFGoodrich driver Rod Hall said. "She's an intellect, so you know where I'm at. I've expanded on trucks and have done OK."

Hall is a jokester but he still knows how to race.

This morning, he'll be competing for the 45th time at the treacherous Baja 1000, which covers 1,121 miles across Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. The Baja, with more than 300 entries, allows various types of vehicle classes to compete on the same course -- from motorcycles to trucks to customized cars.

"It's more than a race for me," Hall said. "My first trip down here was in 1955. When I'm not around here, I'm grumpy. When I'm here, I get well."

Hall has captured a record 21 wins in the Baja 1000 and 18 wins in the Baja 500, and he is the only driver to beat the motorcycles in a production four-wheel drive.

"When I got my first motorcycle at 14, nothing got in the way of my racing," Hall said. "House payments or grocery money, I had to race. That was my passion."

Hall said he's not thinking of retiring anytime soon.

"I'm not slowing down yet. Getting old is not for sissies," Hall said. "The only thing I hate is having to pee all the time. I had to pee right before you called."