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The Bronco and Baja Boot Return to Baja

The 53rd SCORE Baja 1000 is just around the corner and Ford Performance is back again. They entered their purpose-built Ford Bronco R race prototype that compliments this year’s new Ford Bronco launch. The Bronco R was built in conjunction with the Trophy truck Builder, Geiser Brothers in 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bronco – claiming the only 4×4 win to date at the 1969 Baja 1000. This success resulted from Rod Hall and Larry Minor behind the wheel, driving it to victory.  

Last year the Bronco was driven by the offroad racing legend himself, Cameron Steele, amongst other drivers included Rod Hall’s Grand Daughter Shelby Hall. There was one other entry besides the Bronco R in Class 2, and it was the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus Boot. The SCG Boot is a $258,000, 450 Horsepower powered by a V8 LT1 offroad machine that pays homage to the original Baja Boot that was driven by Steve McQueen. 

 The Bronco DNF’d by race mile 580 after running into issue after issue throughout the race. Ford communications manager Mike Levine said in a statement claiming what happened.

  • We had several challenges during the race, including: Getting hit and becoming stuck after a trophy truck hit the Bronco in San Quetin Wash near race mile 190. That’s desert racing!
  • This damaged a skid plate that also led to damaging the transmission cooling lines. We fixed the skid plate at Pit 2 but didn’t catch the transmission leak until after it started slipping. It made it to Pit 3. This took several hours to repair.
  • Around race mile 480 we broke a fabricated lower control arm. This was replaced but took another 90 minutes or so.
  • Ran into aftermarket cooling fan issues around race mile 580. By the time it was repaired at Pit 5 it was about 8:30 at night. The next portion was challenging and risky to get help on the course if something happened, and we’d likely wouldn’t finish until after the official time limit expired.

Out of the two vehicles racing in that class only one finished, being the SCG Boot, which made it across the line with 47 seconds remaining in the 34-hour cut off for the race. After it finished, they drove it home the same day. While finishing Baja in itself is a huge accomplishment, it is even more insane than it drove home; most vehicles are limping by the time they finish nearly 1000 miles of the grueling Mexican desert. If that isn’t the ultimate test for durability testing, then I don’t know what is.

Both the Ford Bronco R and the SCG Boot are back again this year to try their hand at a second round at the Baja 1000.

The Bronco R drivers are to include both Cameron Steele and Shelby Hall, but also welcome newcomers to the program, 17-time Baja 1000 motorcycle winner, Johnny Campbell, 30 Year Baja Racing Champion, Curt LeDuc, Ultra 4 Champion, Jason Scherer as well as Cody Stuart, Scott Conley, and Brian Hasford.

The SCG has their own powerhouse of drivers, including six-time Baja 1000 winner and Dakar Rally driver, Darren Skilton. Accompanied by Virvy Felix, Jon Krellwitz, Tyler Thomas, Elliot Pollack, Mike Rossey, Rob Thomasson, and Jesse Glickenhaus.

While there is no shortage of talent on the Ford Bronco R team, they will not be running out of talent anytime soon. Do they have what it takes to make it to the finish line and finally restore the Bronco name in Baja? Or will the low production volume quarter-million-dollar luxury Baja Boot replica take the victory for the second time? Either way, with the Bronco’s rebirth, we are excited to see it continue to race and as well as SCG Boot being brought back to life for a rivalry just as many saw in 1969. 

Which team are you rooting for, team Bronco R or team Boot? 

Photos: Ford Performance & Glickenhaus Racing.

nimrod

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I’ve never seen a baja boot anywhere but the one racing in baja.
I’ll be pulling for the Bronco
in this David vs Goliath match up. Super stoked to start parking my wife’s new bronco next to my Raptor!
 

Tom_Willis

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Why does Ford go to all the trouble and expense to enter a Raptor or Bronco R in the B1K and only build a single vehicle? Their 2016 Ford GT Le Man's program had multiple entries, and like in the '60's they won BIG. When Kia entered the B1K they had a squadron of those little things out there, knowing full well that they were betting on at least one beating the clock.
 

nimrod

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Why does Ford go to all the trouble and expense to enter a Raptor or Bronco R in the B1K and only build a single vehicle? Their 2016 Ford GT Le Man's program had multiple entries, and like in the '60's they won BIG. When Kia entered the B1K they had a squadron of those little things out there, knowing full well that they were betting on at least one beating the clock.

Maybe they had bigger plans and covid screwed things up........
Porsche and Audi both had their racing programs gutted by VW when diesel gate hit. Things happen.
I’m glad they did jump in and race the Bronco.
things could always be better but the could always be worse too.
 

nimrod

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I was really hoping they’d send it and PAB to Dakar like when they sent the first gen Raptor. I don’t know if they have that kind of money for the program at this time.
 

nimrod

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Anyways I’m hoping to get a Bronco Warthog from Team Ford when they come out.
 

class5cole

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Would be interested to know what technology is shared with the production vehicle besides the name
 

nimrod

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Engine, driveline but not the rearend. (It’s a trussed race rear end) All electronics Including stock Ecu tune, no pumped up turbo, she runs on 91 octane pump gas, Steering, shoot even the shifter, most the suspension but not shocks, stock ball joints, bronco frame. Last year the cooling system was stock in the stock location and that was a problem. Still stock cooling but it’s moved to the back up in the wind like on a trophy truck. As long as you don’t race 1000 miles on the pipe you’re stock rig should be epic.
I’m a nimrod so don‘t take my comments as fact. Ford made a big deal out of being as much stock as possible.
You‘re mileage may vary, odds computed on day of drawing, everything subject to change.
 
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nimrod

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Hope you all have safe race a respect all the persons behind you, but it’s still a ford product quantity not quality!!

There isn’t a lot of manufactures even thinking about racing in the desert. I’ve been at the testing and I’ve seen everything the Ford engineers have learned and changed by racing the bronco.
As a fan of desert racing I’m grateful for any vehicle manufacturer that supports it, from motos and UTV’s to Broncos.
 

stephenrjking

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Why does Ford go to all the trouble and expense to enter a Raptor or Bronco R in the B1K and only build a single vehicle? Their 2016 Ford GT Le Man's program had multiple entries, and like in the '60's they won BIG. When Kia entered the B1K they had a squadron of those little things out there, knowing full well that they were betting on at least one beating the clock.
The GT Le Mans program received many multiples of dollars more than the Bronco program. The marketing objectives are completely different, and what is measured as "success" is completely different, too.

The GT program piggybacks on one of the greatest triumphs Ford ever achieved as a company, beating the Ferraris in Le Mans in the 60s. There's a movie about it and everything. The GT40 is a halo product and the program is a halo program, designed to boost the image of Ford as a company worldwide. Le Mans is a huge deal worldwide, much more accessible than Baja. Viewers can watch the whole thing live and see the sleek vehicles racing around. You're evoking history, so the goal is the same: weinning. So you spend many millions and enter multiple cars to ensure that you have a couple still running at the end.

The B1K is not about Ford as a company, but about the Bronco as a product. It doesn't cost much to modify an existing vehicle. $200k? $300k? I'm no expert but that's probably overstating it. And then you need to invest the typical amounts to invest in some testing and supplies and crew and drivers and logistics to run a single race, nothing remotely approaching the full world-travelling seasons produced by Ganassi racing. And all this so that you can say that the Bronco is "proven in the Baja." Which is nice, but that's about it.

Winning isn't the goal. At best, finishing is. Participation, with a near-stock vehicle.

If they wanted to launch a GT-level program, they could, and they would win. But there just isn't the ROI.
 

MTPyle

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Does the Bronco race vehicle have any Bronco parts? The pics I saw of it looked like a ground up race vehicle build. I didn’t see any stock parts at all. So is the Bronco a Bronco?

I know Ford built a Raptor for Baja that was pretty much a 1450 truck, just had steal cab but the rest was full blown race truck. Then the built a stock one with mostly just safty stuff.

I want to see a stock Bronco with just safety mods race Baja. That would be awesome.

Mike
 

stephenrjking

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Does the Bronco race vehicle have any Bronco parts? The pics I saw of it looked like a ground up race vehicle build. I didn’t see any stock parts at all. So is the Bronco a Bronco?

I know Ford built a Raptor for Baja that was pretty much a 1450 truck, just had steal cab but the rest was full blown race truck. Then the built a stock one with mostly just safty stuff.

I want to see a stock Bronco with just safety mods race Baja. That would be awesome.

Mike
Apparently the engine/powertrain and such. The suspension components, fuel cell, and so on, not so much.

Baja seems like an unfriendly place for bone stock vehicles. But that sounds like fun.

Still hoping you guys run the peninsula next year.
 

usmcgunrock

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Does the Bronco race vehicle have any Bronco parts? The pics I saw of it looked like a ground up race vehicle build. I didn’t see any stock parts at all. So is the Bronco a Bronco?

I know Ford built a Raptor for Baja that was pretty much a 1450 truck, just had steal cab but the rest was full blown race truck. Then the built a stock one with mostly just safty stuff.

I want to see a stock Bronco with just safety mods race Baja. That would be awesome.

Mike

I second this. I remember seeing build pictures and even guys who were part of the build talking about the frame being a raptor frame. Raptor with race front suspension, linked rear end, and everything from the frame up is tube work. It’s a PR thing to say the bronco raced Baja when it is just a bronco fiberglass shell and ranger/bronco motor and trans.
 

stephenrjking

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I second this. I remember seeing build pictures and even guys who were part of the build talking about the frame being a raptor frame. Raptor with race front suspension, linked rear end, and everything from the frame up is tube work. It’s a PR thing to say the bronco raced Baja when it is just a bronco fiberglass shell and ranger/bronco motor and trans.
Still a lot closer to stock than the "stock" cars they run in NASCAR. Running their own motor, transmission, and other such details does mean something. It's marketing, but that's all motor racing has ever been; think of the Cosworth and Ilmor purpose-built Indycar engines that would occasionally, but not always, get a marketing fee to badge as "Ford" and "Chevy" (or "Mercedes").
 

usmcgunrock

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Still a lot closer to stock than the "stock" cars they run in NASCAR. Running their own motor, transmission, and other such details does mean something. It's marketing, but that's all motor racing has ever been; think of the Cosworth and Ilmor purpose-built Indycar engines that would occasionally, but not always, get a marketing fee to badge as "Ford" and "Chevy" (or "Mercedes").

I don’t disagree. Like the Honda Ridgeline that doesn’t share anything from a Ridgeline or run a motor that anyone other then The Honda offroad team can get. That comes from Honda Racing so it’s a Honda but no one can spec it out. Marketing, Honda can say they won the race.

At least the Halls are running a Chevy with bolt on parts.
 

nimrod

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Does the Bronco race vehicle have any Bronco parts? The pics I saw of it looked like a ground up race vehicle build. I didn’t see any stock parts at all. So is the Bronco a Bronco?

I know Ford built a Raptor for Baja that was pretty much a 1450 truck, just had steal cab but the rest was full blown race truck. Then the built a stock one with mostly just safty stuff.

I want to see a stock Bronco with just safety mods race Baja. That would be awesome.

Mike

Bronco Frame , Engine, driveline transmission etc, but not the rearend. (It’s a trussed race rear end) All electronics Including stock Ecu tune, no pumped up turbo, she runs on 91 octane pump gas, Steering, shoot even the shifter, most the suspension but not shocks, stock ball joints, bronco frame. Last year the cooling system was stock in the stock location and that was a problem. Still stock cooling but it’s moved to the back up in the wind like on a trophy truck. As long as you don’t race 1000 miles on the pipe you’re stock rig should be epic.
I’m a nimrod so don‘t take my comments as fact. Ford made a big deal out of being as much stock as possible.
You‘re mileage may vary, odds computed on day of drawing, everything subject to change.

You could totally build one identically with off the shelf ford parts, a cage, aftermarket desert rear end and Fox Shocks. Ford did put some money into the custom body with 1 off molds so that part might be tough but you could do it.
 
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