Update 1: Ford's EcoBoost V-6 Race Trucks Find it Tough Going in Desert Racing Shake Down

Ford's EcoBoost V-6 Race Trucks Come Up Dry in Desert Racing Shakedown
Words and photos by Matt Kartozian for PickupTrucks.com

Update #1 October-20-2010 08:39 PDT:
Mark Grueber, former marketing manager for the F-150 and recently promoted to a senior position with Lincoln, said that the EcoBoost engine raced Saturday in Mike McCarthy's truck is not the same engine that Ford has sent on torturous dyno-cell, logging and high-speed towing missions around the country.

"The hero [EcoBoost] engine that we've been testing around the country is still in the test truck," Grueber said. "Mike McCarthy raced with a different engine. We won't have the real one for a few more weeks."

The EcoBoost torture test engine will be the mill that Ford races in the Baja 1000.


The triple challenges of racing a new engine in the unforgiving desert by a hard date proved too much during Ford's shakedown testing of its twin EcoBoost-powered race trucks before their debut next month in one of the toughest off-road races on the planet.

Ford recently launched an ambitious plan to test its new 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 with one of motorsports most grueling events, the famed Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. The goal is to run two F-150 trucks in the storied race with one in Stock Full class, which allows only minimal modifications to the vehicle, and the other in Class 8, a faster class that allows extensive changes to the vehicle, but it must retain the factory frame and original front suspension concept (A-arms, I-beams, etc.). Typical vehicles in both classes use 600- to 800-hp V-8s.

Drivers Randy Merritt (Stock Full) and Mike McCarthy (Class 8) both plan to tackle the Baja 1000 on Nov. 18. The 1,050-mile race, which takes place across the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur, will start in Ensenada and finish in La Paz. Merritt's truck is a brand-new build, and McCarthy's had a former life as the Raptor R that completed the 2008 Baja 1000 but has undergone an extensive rebuild.

Before their trip to tackle Mexico, the pair planned to shake down the new trucks while racing the Best in the Desert Blue Water Desert Challenge last weekend in Parker, Ariz. Each class was to run three laps of the 27-mile loop course on Saturday and again on Sunday with the combined low overall time winning.


The Merritt shop was busy in the week leading up to the race as they tried to complete the new truck in time. While they did finish it, Merritt decided at the last minute not to race the new truck so he could concentrate on his championship chase for Class 8100 (BITD's equivalent of SCORE's Stock Full) title as he was a close second in the points heading into the race.

McCarthy did bring his new EcoBoost F-150 truck out to Parker with the intention of racing in Class 8000 (Class 8 equivalent). Unlike Merritt, McCarthy would be on the course in a heat mixed with ProTrucks, a spec class using smaller trucks, and the Trick Truck class, which features faster 800-hp unlimited trucks with 30 inches of suspension travel and 39-inch tires.

The course was rough to begin with and a full day of racing only caused it to deteriorate, with huge silt-filled holes that could swallow a full-size truck and large sections that were made of deep sand. Both require lots of horsepower to overcome.

McCarthy took the green flag on Saturday, but at the end of the first lap he pulled off and parked the truck because he was in need of more power.

"We just don't have a race motor," McCarthy said. "I race 100 percent; I am out there to win and I had absolutely no chance. Rather than damage the truck with the amount time between now and the 1000, I just parked it. I am not in the points chase because I missed 'Vegas to Reno,' and it just didn't make any sense to push it around the course and have an incident with the trick trucks."

It's unclear if Ford and the drivers plan to make changes before the Baja 1000. With a different course and a much longer race that requires the drivers to pace themselves and their vehicles, being down on horsepower should not be as much of an issue as it was in Parker.




You are right about efficiency being key. But, different turbos (which only net a couple of more pounds of boost), aren't going to make up for the 1000+ pounds of weight, plus the huge disadvantage in aerodynamics this truck has, when compared to its passenger car counterparts. Not to mention, while over coming these disadvantages, Ford somehow manage to net around 20% better fuel economy, then the lighter more aerodynamic vehicle. These two turbos, would need to net TONS more efficiency to do this.

If you think the trans is where it gains so much, you would be wrong. There is a reason why the auto industry changed from largely RWD cars, to FWD. Not only is FWD cheaper, it is more efficient. There is much less drive train loss in FWD, because you don't need to turn the extra equipment needed to make RWD function; extra equipment is extra weight. Yes, the RWD trans can be stronger, but stronger and efficient don't go hand in hand. Stronger trans' need more weight to get that way. Once again the more weight the engine has to turn, the less efficient it gets.

I think it is time you wake up and accept the fact that 26mpg, hell even 24 mpg, isn't going to happen.

On its best day, the EB will not be able to beat the base 3.7 v6. (Which does get pretty good mpg for a truck)

I agree Quarter Master, it will come out very close to the 3.7 - which is nothing to be sneezed at. To get the performance of the 6.2, with the fuel economy of the 3.7 - is pretty much all that Ford is promising. Mike Levine has speculated long ago at 23mpg highway, which is what the 3.7 gets. Much better than the 15 highway I get on my 5.4.

Lets not forget this same engine that is in the BAJA truck has already endured the Dyno torture test simulating 150,000 miles of wear and tear. http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2010/09/from-the-dyno-to-the-baja-1000-ford-seeks-to-prove-its-new-ecoboost-v-6-is-durable.html
Then it went into a new truck at the assembly plant so it could be worked in place of a log skidder, dragging thousands of pounds of logs up steep grades. Then it went to FL to run on a NASCAR track, towing 2 NASCAR race cars at full throttle for 24 hours. After that it went into the BAJA truck to run in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race in November. The race in this article was just a shake down for practice. Let's not get carried away saying he failed, quit, or whatever. The race is yet to come.
If this engine can handle these torture tests and will get close to the milage of the 3.7, then I think it will be a huge success. Think what the HP TQ and MPG will be in the future as they tweak it. I'll bet the competition is hoping it will fail, but are working feverishly on their own designs in case it does as Ford is suggesting.

The rules for testing MPG changed 2 years ago.
Most people would rarely come close to the posted EPA MPG numbers.
The current rules are based more on real world driving.
Anyone can now match or excede EPA MPG ratings.
Trucks rated prior to the change would get worse MPG ratings than current trucks using the new system.
The F150 4x4 5.4 is rated at 14 city/18 highway.
I'm getting 14 city on my new F150 5.4L Supercrew 6.5 box 4x4 and it only has 1500 miles on it.

I doubt the EB 3.5 will see the high numbers initially claimed by Ford. I am impressed by the HP/Torque numbers that it makes. If you take that into consideration, I'd say the EB 3.5 is doing well.

Guys are still slagging McCarthy for backing out of the race.
He is a pro - racer in points contention. The class that was most suitable for the EB racer was the one McCarthy wanted to do well it.
That is not the place to test a new truck.
He tried it in the ProTruck class. But soon realized that it was unsafe.

Have any of you guys ever raced?

I've raced dirtbikes in crosscountry and hare scrambles. It is unnerving to get passed by experts and pros on a narrow and dusty course.
I can imagine what it would be like in a stock engined truck being on the same course as 800 HP Unlimited Trucks. The visibility would be nil, and those trucks would be travelling 40 - 60 mph faster than you.

Say that over and over again until it sinks in : "visibility nil, 40 - 60 mph faster".

It was a shakedown for the Baja 1000.
That is the big one.
That is Ford's goal.


I actually raced down in Baja!

I was in the Stock-mini class and had to mix it up with Class 1 buggies, Trophy Trucks, Class 8 and so forth...

A Trophy Truck passed us from the rear and thankfully the co-driver was honking the air horn about a 1/4 mile away as they approached and I found a safe place to get off and let him pass.

It was the first Mexican driver (forgot his name) that raced in the Trophy Truck class.

I did pass one of the Hall Hummers on the course once, too slow for me.

Despite the fact the driver said it didn't have enough power the motor never quit. In your expert opinion, should the driver have parked the truck or should he have completed the race?


Completed the race!

Never quit when you have a race truck that is healthy enough to finish!

Baja racing is not all about the engine...

I think he should have keep going, since it is all about testing! He knew exactly what he was getting into. Their will always be slower drivers in any race and passing those slow divers safely is part of the game. It seems to me he is the wrong man for the job. I'm really curious to see if the motor will hold up, not win the race. I hope he doesn't pull that crap in nov. or might be a new driver by then. Either way I want to see how the motor will hold up and if they will put in the Raptor?

I was misled again. The update shows that this was not the motor that was going to be used in the baja race. You guys have swayed me back again to blaming the driver. He should have kept going.

Hope Ford actually runs it on 91 octane, instead of some higher octane street gas that can't be found everywhere or race gas. But they most likely won't. But who will know, right? Just like these test drives where Ford brings in a few of the competitions trucks, they could be putting the worse gear ratios out there, makes Ford look better.

what will they say when the 5.0 is a ecoboost motor?

5.0 ecoboost for me in a reg cab f350 20 mpg 440hp 550ftlb good enough for me!

I personally know a Ford powertrain engineer who worked on the cold weather testing of these new F-150 engines. In his words, "the ecoboost gets better gas mileage than the V8s when unloaded but does a little worse when loaded." Makes sense, the b.s.f.c. of a boosted engine should be lower (poorer) on average than natural aspiration. I personally would rather have a 6.2 with cylinder cutout, than the turbo V6. Maybe a turbo inline 6 would be a different story for me.

BTW I own a 2009 5.4L F-150 4x4 with 3.73 gears with 15k on the clock. The new 6-spd auto helps with fuel mileage. Best tankful so far is 18.7 mpg on a trip averaging 70~75 mph highway, with some city driving at each end. At those high speeds the 3.73s hurt, but on a 45 mph commute drive it actually does better than the taller gears due to staying in 6th gear more.

In a nutshell, good mpg depends on having a light right foot. When cruising on a nice flat highway @ 50 mph, my mpg gauge really does often indicate right around 24~26 mpg, but as you would rightly expect, that number drops off due to passing, traffic lights, & hills.

Hey , McCarthy is a great driver with hundreds of hours of desert racing to his name , and a great water skier ! I have been through two Vegas to Reno Finish lines with him .
Ironman V2R. 07

----UPDATE--MILE 500,McCarthy
comming to half way point .

MILE 395'Merritt doin 55 MPH.
take a look and track your fav driver



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