Ford Bronco R takes on the Baja 1000
The Ford Bronco R racing prototype took on the treacherous Baja 1000 this year.
Many tacos were eaten along the way, of course.
The goal of the program was to finish the race and stress test the stock engine, transmission and four-wheel-drive system.
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.
While the heart of the Bronco R is stock, the rest of the truck is comprised of upgraded racing components.
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.
The Bronco R bucks a little bit, apparently.
Looking good on the beach in Erendira, approximately race mile 110.
The engine under the hood is a mystery for now, with Ford just saying it is "representative of what the production Bronco will offer."
Coming in to the first pit stop at race mile 135 or so outside Colonet.
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.
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.
Pits are open, so anyone can watch the action.
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.
Getting in at pit one was Steve Olliges, a seven-time Baja champion. Also kind of a big deal.
The Bronco R taking off from pit one, looking and feeling good.
Two spare tires are needed to get through the rugged Baja 1000.
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.
But if you're going to be stuck, might as well have a good view, right?
The Desert Assassins pit crew went to work replacing what they could.
What couldn't be replaced was welded.
Course-side repairs can put folks in the strangest positions.
Shelby Hall, granddaughter of Baja legend Rod Hall, was able to continue her section after two hours or down time.
A masterful driver herself, Hall is most assuredly a legend in the making.
Hall had another 100 miles to drive until the next pit stop.
She arrived at race mile 580 after the sun set. The last 8 miles were on a strap as Hall reported high engine termperatures.
Again, the crew gets into some weird positions to fix problems.
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.
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.
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.