Growing up in off-road culture, vintage off-road vehicles have always been cooler to me than vintage street vehicles. It’s been really cool to watch people unearth and bring these vehicles back to life and actually race them. These vehicles not only have a battle proven history but are mostly still capable of racing in competition today which, in my eyes, makes them even cooler. Yes, I appreciate the beauty of a perfect line on a ’67 Shelby GT500 Mustang or the curvaceous flow of the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa but I have no emotional connection to those vehicles.
What I do have is a fetish for is stark, brutish vintage off-road race vehicles. Even in their stillness, they seem to sit defiantly with shocks jutting out almost anti-aesthetically punk rock in their demeanor. There is also something about the daring ongoing functional test that excites me. Especially because most of the innovations didn’t come from a sterile design lab with engineers bubbling over theory, they came from the backyards and garages of Americans enthralled by the idea that they could invent something to go faster through the rough. It is after all a visual road map of vehicle technology evolving right in front of our eyes.
Thanks to NORRA, there is a renewed interest in resurrecting these vehicles. Leading this salvation of steel are a few of my crazy friends Rory Ward and Jeff Furrier. There are others out there but these guys are digging through backyards like a ten-year old boys high on sugar looking for a Mickey Mantle baseball card. Needless to say, these guys are straight off-road nerds. Now, The Mint 400 and soon other races will have vintage classes so the hunt is on to find these vehicles and bring them back to life.
This is the story of Rory Ward finding the factory Toyota Ivan Stewart Class 7 truck chassis #001 built in 1984 by PPI. This truck is significant because it not only challenged the rules in Class 7 but after being outlawed it was moved up to Class 1 and was still competitive. In fact, it not only won its class at The Mint 400 but it beat most of the Class 8 vehicles as well giving rise to the idea that a lighter, faster vehicle could win overall.
The rest they say is history, as Ivan Stewart went on to dominate off-road racing for the next decade, racking up a winning streak that may never be broken of 84 career victories and 10 drivers championships. Ivan’s wins include seventeen Baja 500’s, eight Mint 400’s, four Parker 400’s, three Baja 1000’s and four SCORE World Championships.
Here is the story of this find In Rory Ward’s own words:
Built in 1984 at PPI, chassis #001 originally built for class 7 raced in SCORE and The Mint 400 but HDRA deemed the truck illegal for class 7. At the 1984 HDRA Frontier 250, both Ivans #001 truck and Frank Arciero’s sister truck (Chassis #002) were moved into Class 1 and 2 respectively.
Ivan of course raced in Class 1 while Frank was in class 2. Toyota parked the Class 2 truck after the 1985 season and focused on Ivans #001 truck as they wanted to go for the Class 1 Championship and Overall wins. Ivan had wins at the Baja 500, Mint 400, Great Mojave 250 and some Riverside races.
The truck was retired after the 1988 Mint 400 when Ivan’s new truck was built (chassis #010). The truck was sold to someone in Mexico and raced a few times but I’m unsure of the owner or results after Ivan raced it.
Hugo Bojorquez bought the truck at a Constitución car lot in the mid 90’s and raced it for a few years until he parked it to make updates on the truck that never happened. The truck sat for approximately 10-12 years until I was able to buy it last Friday.
It was a long process that took nearly two years, which including finding the truck and then working the deal. I had a lot of help from Joel Amaya, Ron Bellerive and Andrea Tomba.
The way I found the truck was kinda funny. About 2 years ago I was browsing through RDC and stumbled upon the thread about Allen Russell’s Toyota stadium truck. Reading through the comments someone mentioned Ivan Stewart’s old race truck was owned by a guy named Hugo Bojorquez in Mexico…..was surprised that no one responded to that and I went straight to Google and tried to find info. No luck.
About 6 months later, I posted a picture of Butch Arciero’s Toyota on my Instagram page and Joel Amaya in Constitución commented and said he knew the guy that owned the Ivan Stewart truck. I quickly deleted his comment and the photo (hahahahah) and found him on Facebook and connected.
I flew to Loreto a couple of weeks before the 2015 Baja 1000 to look at it and make sure it was what he said it was. For some reason Hugo was having a hard time remembering to send me pictures but I got lucky enough that Andrea Tomba from Cabo offered to take some pictures of it the next time he was in the area. I’d have to say it was the worst photos I’ve ever seen of a race car but not any fault of Andrea, it was the fact there was just way too much stuff covering up the truck.
Andrea said it would have taken hours to clear the debris to get a good shot of the truck so he snuck a couple of shots of it covered with trash. Even though it was hard to make out, I knew it was it. No other trucks were built this way and it hadn’t been cut up or morphed into another car. Anyways, while visiting Hugo, I made an offer on the car but he would not budge on his price. I went home empty-handed and figured it was time to look for a different project.
I have a picture of this truck hanging in the bathroom in my office so it’s a daily reminder and I couldn’t let that truck go. I finally pulled the trigger and gave Hugo his asking price and went down to Constitución to pick it up. My daughter Hanna made the trip with me and it took five long days but we made the best of it. The trip was a story in itself but I’ll skip it and give you guys a break.
So, here I am sitting in my garage, staring at this chassis and a pile of parts wondering how long it will be before I reach over and hit that ignition switch and take it out for a drive for the first time….
You can follow the build thread here: