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Ford Bronco R takes on the Baja 1000

Turns out dirt and mud make the racing prototype look even better.

Emme Hall
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
1 of 39 Ford

The Ford Bronco R racing prototype took on the treacherous Baja 1000 this year.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
2 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Many tacos were eaten along the way, of course.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
3 of 39 Ford

The goal of the program was to finish the race and stress test the stock engine, transmission and four-wheel-drive system. 

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
4 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

We first caught up with the Bronco R in Santo Tomás around race mile 80. While it might be named the Baja 1000, rarely are 1,000 miles exactly ever raced. This year the contest started and ended in Ensenada for a total of 800 miles.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
5 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

While the heart of the Bronco R is stock, the rest of the truck is comprised of upgraded racing components.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
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Teams use chase helicopters to monitor cars' position and condition and to let drivers know of any challenges ahead on the course or competitors coming up behind them.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
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The Bronco R bucks a little bit, apparently.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
8 of 39 Dave Connors

Looking good on the beach in Erendira, approximately race mile 110.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
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The engine under the hood is a mystery for now, with Ford just saying it is "representative of what the production Bronco will offer."

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
10 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Coming in to the first pit stop at race mile 135 or so outside Colonet.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
11 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Controlled chaos reigns in the pits. The Bronco R's chase crew was comprised of Ford engineers and Desert Assassins mavericks from previous Baja 1000 winner Cameron Steele.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
12 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

A high-pressure fuel system can dump 100 gallons of fuel in 30 seconds. Oh, and that'a a 2020 Ford Super Duty with the upcoming Tremor package doing the heavy lifting.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
13 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Pits are open, so anyone can watch the action.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
14 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Johnny Campbell, Dakar winner and multiple Baja champion was one of the seven drivers on hand to pilot the Bronco R. He brought the truck in about an hour ahead of schedule and is kind of a big deal.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
15 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Getting in at pit one was Steve Olliges, a seven-time Baja champion. Also kind of a big deal.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
16 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

The Bronco R taking off from pit one, looking and feeling good.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
17 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Two spare tires are needed to get through the rugged Baja 1000.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
18 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

We next caught up with the Bronco on day two of racing at race mile 495. The aftermarket A-arm, uniball and CV had given up the ghost.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
19 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

But if you're going to be stuck, might as well have a good view, right?

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
20 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

The Desert Assassins pit crew went to work replacing what they could.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
21 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

What couldn't be replaced was welded. 

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
22 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Course-side repairs can put folks in the strangest positions.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
23 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Shelby Hall, granddaughter of Baja legend Rod Hall, was able to continue her section after two hours or down time.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
24 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

A masterful driver herself, Hall is most assuredly a legend in the making.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
25 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Hall had another 100 miles to drive until the next pit stop.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
26 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

She arrived at race mile 580 after the sun set. The last 8 miles were on a strap as Hall reported high engine termperatures.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
27 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Again, the crew gets into some weird positions to fix problems.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
28 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

The cooling system is a bit of a Frankenstein monster, with an aftermarket radiator, fans from another system and a shroud that was never supposed to live in that rig in the first place.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
29 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

One fan had seized and the other was not working at full strength. The Ford team decided to call the race, as the next section required elevation gain and the fans, they feared, would not be up to snuff. 

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
30 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Instead, the Bronco R made its way back to Ensenada on the pavement, giving the win to the SCG Baja Boot, a remake of Steve McQueen's car that won the Baja 500 in 1969.

Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
31 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow
Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
32 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow
Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
33 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow
Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
34 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow
Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
35 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow
Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
36 of 39 Ford
Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
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Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
38 of 39 Ford
Ford Bronco R Baja 1000
39 of 39 Ford

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