To test the mettle of the new 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, Toyota will be entering a "lightly" modified Tundra in the 47th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in Ensenada, Mexico, in November. Mike Sweers, chief engineer for Toyota pickups, is looking to test the truck to its limits to gain valuable information for the benefit of future Tundra owners. Manufacturers often use the brutal Baja torture-test race as a kind of proving ground for new technology and parts durability. Last year Ford entered a fully aluminum F-150 (made to look the like current-gen F-150) to see how it would hold up.
Toyota has a long history of desert racing with its Toyota Racing Development division, as well as longtime partnerships with legendary racers like Ivan "Ironman" Stewart and Rod Millen. Add to that the need to create some extra credibility for its new TRD Pro lineup — which now includes the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner — and entering this Tundra in the full-size stock class makes sense. Even if it doesn't finish, Sweers said, Toyota will be gathering valuable data for the next-generation Tundra.
The desert race team will consist of Toyota truck engineers and professional racers, with two teams of two alternating as needed until the race ends. Team members include Stewart as coach and Sweers as navigator with TRD engineer Ted Moncure, Toyota-sponsored athlete Andy Bell, X-Games winner Jamie Bestwick and desert racer Millen serving as drivers.
We called the truck "lightly" modified earlier because this will be the 800 Class full-size stock, which means that the essential guts and look of the truck need to remain similar to the factory stock model. However, racing the Baja requires special design and engineering, so this Tundra has a beefier suspension; some body shaping to allow for 37-inch tires; new bed-mounted, long-travel shocks; a custom fuel tank; heavy-duty Hella lighting; full 2-inch interior roll cage; and custom seats able to hold three people in five-point harnesses.
The race festivities begin Nov. 12 and run for several days, but the actual race ends no matter what on Nov. 16. Andrew Franceschini, Toyota’s truck marketing and communications national manager, said in a statement, "Our goal is to finish this grueling race and to showcase just how awesome the new TRD Pro Series trucks are." We'll see.
To read the full press release, click here.
Cars.com images by Mark Williams