The desert is full of grueling and extreme conditions. That means there is perhaps no better environment in which to put stock-production Chevrolet trucks and accompanying vehicle upgrades to the test.
Chad Hall and his Reno, Nevada-based Hall Racing team do just that for the Bowtie in some of the world’s most difficult off-road races.
Hall Racing participates in a wide variety of events in its 2023 Colorado ZR2 and Silverado ZR2 off-road race trucks. Here they are in line for tech inspection at Best in the Desert: Vegas to Reno.
Each year, the Chevrolet Performance-backed outfit takes on a variety of desert courses throughout the western United States and Mexico. This season, it is doing so utilizing 2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Silverado ZR2 off-road race trucks. The trucks undergo constant upgrades and revisions throughout the year, so The BLOCK team caught up with Chad Hall around August’s Best in the Desert: Vegas to Reno event to discuss what’s new.
The race was the first for an updated version of the Colorado ZR2, which went on to win the C/T Stock Mid class at the event. Earlier this season, Hall Racing had been competing with a pre-production model of the vehicle.
Hall explained that the Chevrolet Performance team essentially built a new truck utilizing a vehicle straight from the assembly line with elements from the forthcoming 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison.
“Basically, we got a 2023 Colorado ZR2 with a Bison frame under it, which is a little bit different,” said Hall, an accomplished off-road racer and proprietor of Rod Hall Products. “It allows for the addition of [Multimatic] Jounce Control Dampers as well.”
The Colorado ZR2 sits on a new Bison frame.
The team also improved the load and stresses on the chassis by updating the design and location of the roll cage. Previously, the cage had ended at the frame directly above the rear axle, but had little support from that part of the frame to the rear bumper. However, the truck features 1,000 pounds of weight in that area with the necessary additional fuel and tires for off-road racing. Now the cage ends closer to the rear of the vehicle.
The truck has some updated modules and software, too.
But while the truck has undergone a variety of upgrades, many of the tried-and-true components remain from the previous version of the team’s Colorado ZR2. The off-road-optimized 2.7L high-output engine remains under the hood as well.
“All of the same electronics came out of it, the same shock absorbers came off the old truck onto the new truck, the same springs,” Hall said. “So, it’s just a little more refined version of the truck we have been running.”
The Colorado ZR2 also features Multimatic Jounce Control Dampers for improved control and stability.
Among those refinements is the addition of the aforementioned front and rear Multimatic Jounce Control Dampers. They provide a hydraulic, nitrogen-charged secondary suspension bump shock system that works in conjunction with Multimatic DSSV dampers. The result is increased vehicle motion control and stability, an important need in rough desert and other off-road terrain.
Meanwhile, the team’s 2023 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 off-road race truck was first built in 2019 and has undergone a series of updates over the last several years. It also found success at this year’s Vegas to Reno event, winning the C/T Stock Full class after not finishing in 2022 due to leaf spring issues.
“After that we got some really brilliant people from GM to come in with our spring manufacturer to design a spring that would give us the wheel travel, ride quality, and the durability that we really needed, all without sagging,” Hall said. “It was not easy, but we got a brand-new design spring after Vegas to Reno last year.”
Otherwise the front and rear balance, overall ride quality, shock absorbers and cooling all have been optimal in recent events.
The V-8-powered Silverado ZR2 has had modifications for better ground clearance.
Additionally, after some experimentation and working within series rules, Hall Racing has settled on running 37-inch tires on the Silverado ZR2 paired with 17-inch wheels. Previously, it had run on 35-inch tires with 18-inch wheels. Since the Silverado tends to have less ground clearance than the Colorado, the wheel-and-tire combination means there is less chance to bend the components under the truck, or hurt the wheels themselves.
These updates, paired with the truck’s powerful 6.2L V-8 engine, have made the truck even more stout than it was previously.
“That truck is beautiful, it is so fast and smooth,” Hall said.
A new Silverado ZR2 is also in the works to complement the team’s brand-new Colorado ZR2.
Both of Hall Racing’s stock-production trucks are top contenders in their class.
Since Vegas to Reno, Hall Racing has claimed more first-in-class finishes in a variety of tough conditions.
Each off-road race provides its own set of challenges, ranging from a high-speed event like Vegas to Reno, to a long-distance contest such as the Baja 1000 in Mexico, to the Mint 400 that notoriously tests chassis and suspension. Other events provide an untold number of further obstacles.
With Hall Racing providing feedback from them all, Chevrolet can continuously work to deliver the very best trucks and performance parts.
Be sure to keep watching The BLOCK for more on off-road racing and all motorsports disciplines.