Ford's Special Vehicle Team and Ford Racing are racing a modified version of the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor in the SCORE Tecate Baja 1000. The 631-mile race started this morning in Ensenada, Baja, Mexico. The #839 Raptor R is competing in Class 8, for full-size two-wheel-drive trucks. It's expected to leave the line at approximately 12:30 p.m. Pacific time for its 20-hour run.
The Raptor R uses mostly stock components that will come on the production Raptor, including the transmission, brakes, axles, rear spring hangers and frame. It's powered by a specially calibrated 500-horsepower version of Ford's new 6.2-liter V-8 engine, and it sports a beefed up Fox Racing suspension.
"The race truck has even more suspension travel, better approach and departure angles, more horsepower, more ground clearance, and full racing specification seats, safety cage and harnesses, all of which combine to make an even faster, more visceral offroad experience," said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief nameplate engineer.
The interior has also been customized with three five-point safety harness racing seat belts, a full roll cage and navigation gear.
Check back over the next 24 hours or so for updates on the Raptor R and its progress in the 2008 Baja 1000.
Nov. 21, 2008 (11 a.m. Pacific)
The #839 Raptor R and its team are on their way from their hotel in Ensenada to the starting line. An electrical glitch cropped up last night during the truck's final shakedown. The team spent most of the night tracking it down and fixing it. Telecommunication is sketchy throughout most of Baja, but we'll do our best to keep up with the Raptor R's progress.
Nov. 21, 2008 (12:44 p.m. Pacific)
The Raptor R has left the starting line is nearing race mile 42. All systems are green. Steve Olliges is the driver. In a few more hours we should know its position in the Class 8 field. Stay tuned for racecourse pics, too!
Nov. 21, 2008 (2:52 p.m. Pacific)
Just finished a frozen chicken tamale with black beans and rice while waiting for the next update from the Mexican desert.
Nov. 21, 2008 (3:22 p.m. Pacific)
The Raptor R just pulled out of BFG Pit #1 at race mile 141. Driver Olliges reports, "The truck feels good."
According to SVT spokesperson Patrick Hespen, live in Mexico, Olliges will stay in the truck until race mile 190, when Bud Brutsman takes over driving duties at BFG Pit #2 at race mile 280. Ford vehicle dynamics engineer Gene Martindale will pilot the Raptor R from mile 282 to BFG Pit #3 at mile 350, then hand off to Greg Foutz. Foutz will race the truck to BFG Pit #5 at mile 496, where co-driver Randy Merritt will guide it home to the finish in Ensenada sometime tomorrow morning.
Nov. 21, 2008 (3:34 p.m. Pacific)
Here's an answer to Frank Morris' question from the comments section below. Morris asked why the Raptor R is running in Class 8, which is for full-size two-wheel-drive trucks.
"It's the best class for the truck," Hespen said. "We're running in two-wheel drive unless four-wheel drive is absolutely needed."
Hespen added that the Raptor R should have been running in the Stock Full-Size Truck Class, like the Hummer H2 SUT we rode in last summer, but because it's not in production yet it had to run in Class 8.
"Our goal isn't necessarily to win the class but to test the truck," Hespen said.
Nov. 21, 2008 (5:12 p.m. Pacific)
We're still waiting for pictures from the first pit stop. Here's another shot of the seating setup inside the Raptor R.
There's no front windshield in the race truck. You can see the air filtration system that connects to the driver's helmet behind the front seat. The co-driver and third seat are connected to the system too.
It's the co-driver's role to look for booby traps and hazardous road conditions marked on the GPS display (seen near the truck's right side A-pillar). The backseat passenger monitors the rearview mirror to ensure faster competitors (like Trophy Trucks) don't "nerf" the Raptor R. Nerfing is a not-so-discrete way to tell slower vehicles to move out of the way by bumping their rear end.
Nov. 21, 2008 (6:30 p.m. Pacific)
The SCORE Baja 1000 site has live GPS tracking of all the racers. You can follow along by class or by individual driver under the "Quick Navigation" link at the top of the page.
Nov. 21, 2008 (6:36 p.m. Pacific)
Just got a phone call from the now-dark Baja desert. Ford just swapped Raptor R drivers at race mile 193. Brutsman has replaced Olliges in the left front seat.
It's been tough going. The Raptor R got stuck in a sand pit, along with about 20 other race vehicles, right before the driver swap. Hespen says they got the truck out and SCORE race officials are now routing other racers around the sticky spot.
Nobody said racing the Baja 1000 was easy!
Nov. 21, 2008 (9:27 p.m. Pacific)
According to the SCORE Baja 1000 tracking site, the Raptor R has reached BFG Pit #2 at race mile 282.
Nov. 21, 2008 (9:33 p.m. Pacific)
The Raptor R just pulled out of BFG Pit #2 with fresh driver Martindale at the wheel. We rode shotgun with Martindale in a pre-production 2010 Raptor earlier this month.
(Video by deathbydesert)
Hespen said the pit crew changed the race Raptor's two rear tires and welded a broken skid plate mounting bracket. "The truck's running cool. It's running good," Hespen said.
Nov. 21, 2008 (10:41 p.m. Pacific)
Time for some dulce de leche ice cream while we wait for the next update.
Nov. 22, 2008 (12:21 a.m. Pacific)
The #839 Raptor R has reached BFG Pit #3 (race mile 352) near San Felipe. We're going to grab a few hours of sleep. We'll be back online later this morning.
Nov. 22, 2008 (4:40 a.m. Pacific)
Martindale left the cockpit at Pit #3 (race mile 352) after fresh driver Foutz entered the race to take the #839's reins.
Before Pit #3, Martindale reported the truck was running warm. The team discovered the Raptor R's cooling fans were accidentally left off after the batteries were disconnected and reconnected to safely weld the broken skid plate mount at Pit #2. Martindale and his co-drivers pulled over and turned the fans back on.
At 2:03 a.m. Pacific, the Raptor R left BFG Pit #4 (race mile 407) after the pit crew replaced the driveshaft as a precautionary measure.
Hespen said the truck is running well. They're near race mile 460 on their way to BFG Pit #5 (race mile 496).
Nov. 22, 2008 (5:40 a.m. Pacific)
Just received word from Hespen, who's embedded with the chase team, that the Raptor R is at race mile 462 getting a broken leaf spring replaced. A cracked rear spring perch (front side) has also been fixed. The spring perches sit on top of the rear axle as a foundation for the leaf springs.
Nov. 22, 2008 (6:19 a.m. Pacific)
The #839 Raptor R is back in the race!
Nov. 22, 2008 (6:29 a.m. Pacific)
Here's a look at some of the hardware (on a Raptor engineering mule) that has been repaired or replaced on the #839 Raptor R during the past six hours or so of the grueling Baja 1000.
Nov. 22, 2008 (7:00 a.m. Pacific)
The #839 Raptor R has reached BFG Pit #5 (race mile 496).
Nov. 22, 2008 (8:00 a.m. Pacific)
There's daylight again in Mexico.
Here's the debrief on the leaf spring and spring perch problem that cropped up earlier. A leaf spring on the right (passenger) side broke and ruined the spring perch beneath it, which required the spring replacement and perch welding action. At BFG Pit #5, the team decided to replace the same spring on the left (driver) side as a precautionary measure. They're wrapping that up now before continuing with the race.
Yep, we're still waiting on pictures.
Nov. 22, 2008 (8:10 a.m. Pacific)
The #839 Raptor R is on its way to the sixth checkpoint (race mile 589).
Nov. 22, 2008 (8:21 a.m. Pacific)
Wow! Potentially big news for Honda. It looks like the #779 Ridgeline race truck, piloted by Gavin Skilton, is about to win the Stock Mini class. The truck is just outside Ensenada. Honda has raced the Ridgeline in the Baja 1000 since 2005. Looks like this could be its year.
Nov. 22, 2008 (9:15 a.m. Pacific)
Looks like the #779 Ridgeline has been sidelined about 20 miles from the finish line. Rod Hall's Hummer H3 (five-cylinder) is on the move, about 30 miles behind.
Congrats to Chad Hall, who won the Stock Full-Size Class in an H3 Alpha. That's the same class that production Ford F-150 SVT Raptors could eventually compete in.
Nov. 22, 2008 (9:26 a.m. Pacific)
Oops. Spoke too soon. The Ridgeline is racing again. Good luck, Honda!
Nov. 22, 2008 (11:26 a.m. Pacific)
Hespen reports the Raptor R is about 20 minutes out from the finish line.
Nov. 22, 2008 (11:50 a.m. Pacific)
Honda definitely has its first race truck win in the Baja 1000. Congrats to the #779 Ridgeline and Skilton for taking first place in Stock Mini Class. The amazing details are on Rod Hall Racing's blog.
Waiting on word from the Raptor R team.
Nov. 22, 2008 (1:26 p.m. Pacific)
The #839 Ford Raptor R successfully finished the 41st SCORE Baja 1000! An awesome accomplishment for a first time run.