EcoBoost Goes to the Baja 1000

By Robby DeGraff and Mike Levine

It’s official: Professional desert racers Mike McCarthy and Randy Merritt will each race a Ford F-150 EcoBoost V-6 truck in this year’s SCORE International Baja 1000.

The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is the first application of Ford’s gasoline direct-injection twin-turbo technology in a half-ton pickup. It’s Ford’s effort to shrink engine displacement for improved fuel economy while delivering tons of low-end power. In the 2011 F-150, the 3.5 V-6 is rated a strong 365 horsepower (at 5,000 rpm) and 420 pounds-feet of torque (at 2,500 rpm) with a flat, diesel-like torque curve. Ninety-percent of peak power is available from 1,700 rpm to 5,000 rpm.

McCarthy and Merritt’s Mongo Racing will be the first teams to introduce a turbo six-cylinder gasoline engine pickup truck to the Baja 1000. In the past, only specially tuned, naturally aspirated V-8s and turbo-diesels competed in the Baja. That prompted SCORE, the race’s administrative body, to create a brand-new class to accommodate the new mills.

McCarthy and Merritt will technically race each other in the newly created Stock Engine Truck Class instead of Stock Full, which is for production trucks. In 2008, the purpose-built Ford Raptor R raced in Class 8, for two-wheel-drive full-size trucks.


Making McCarthy’s Baja run a bit more interesting is the newly installed EcoBoost “hero engine” that’s powering his truck. The same engine first endured the equivalent of 150,000 harsh-user miles on the dynamometer, then was installed into a new 2011 F-150 to work as a log skidder in Oregon, towed a maximum trailer load at a high-speed NASCAR track and beat the competition in a towing exercise at Davis Dam. McCarthy’s truck is also the former Raptor R race chassis.

Mongo Racing’s off-the-shelf EcoBoost V-6 has Ford’s stock 6R80E transmission bolted to it. It took months of extensive preparation and transformation of a stock 2011 F-150 XL (similar to one you can find at your local Ford dealership) to turn it into a silver desert marauder.

We’ll be closely following both trucks in the race Nov. 17-21.


Wow! I sure hope that little EcoBoost is up for all of this abuse. I mean, come on....this combination of tests/stunts is the definition of "torture test." What a feat if this thing actually pulls it off. Might be embarrassing if it doesn't..... I bet she will though! Thoughts?

Exactly my thoughts. I'm a little worried for the ford. That really sounds like an impressive torture test. I would expect a lot of trucks to have problems before a test like that was done. I just wish ford had some independent group doing all this and especially an independent group to disassemble and critique the engine parts when it's all over. Toyota did something like this too where they ran a truck on a ranch in texas for 100,000 miles then disassembled it but I didn't get much out of it cause they didn't show much as far as how the wear on the parts were. I guess with the toyota project you pretty much had to be there in person to really get much out of it. I'm a little surprised not to see any mention of that on this website. But I guess toyota didn't make a big deal out of it.

I like the ecoboost more and more each time i read about it. Its neat what Ford is doing to torture test it. If the EPA ratings come back with at least 15 city and 22 highway ill have one in my driveway.

My 22R with about 120,000 miles on her held up well down in Baja when I raced my old 86, why is Ford so worried with this motor?

I'm really impressed with how Ford is pushing it's design through these unbelievable challenges. It looks promising!

Look at it the way article states, Two Raptor's "technically racing themselves". I see it as a public proving ground for Ford. Will something break? Probably. Is it the end of the world? No. Will Ford learn a lot from this? Yes. That's the goal here, not who wins or loses. This is a test, period. Whatever doesn't go well Ford will improve on for the future, we all then benifit.

Ford is telling everyone that they are doing all this before hand instead of marketing it after the fact if it works out.
Sounds like confidence to me.

Kudos to Score for changing the rules to allow Turbo V6 engines.
The naysayers will now say that it's biased as Ford is gauranteed 1st and 2nd place. LOL.

I saw the logging video.
I'm not really impressed.
It was set up for the truck.
I've never seen a logging show like that.
They showed a high lead operation, then a tree processor, and a skider pulling a single bucked and limbed log.
Yeh right.
It was a small skider but it could pull several tree length logs.
The skid trail looked more like a fire road.
It looked like some of the loggers shown in the background were trying not to laugh.
A day of pulling heavy logs on a good "trail" isn't going to convince me.
I'll be more impressed with Baja and how these two trucks rank in the overall standings.

I thought the logging video was pretty cool, but not a real tough test. Definitely set up for a truck too. I would like to have seen it pulling logs from a standstill, pulling them on the ground from the start. I wanted to see low end torque. The jerked start yanking them off the stack so they hit the ground in motion is what made me chuckle. But it was still better than I have seen from Ford or any others in the past so I give them credit.

Last we heard the race truck drivers didn't want to drive the EBs cause they only wanted to win. A V6 class should help out there. Ford would be smart to give them a financial incentive to complete the course.

All this hype about the so-called eco boost...What is so eco about it ? Ford is setting themselves up for a fall if this motor turns out to be a turd !
I will stick with a V-8,the eco (hate that name hate eco friendly crap) boost will suck as much fuel as a V-8 !! Those in denial have their heads in the baja sand !!!I couldnt give a rats ass about desert racing,and for day to day isnt going to be the Holy Grail people think it far the eco doesnt outrun the same truck with a V-8,all we have seen was a short box,2wd eco and people comparred those to bigger,4 door 4x4...screw ford,as mine screwed me !!


Sounds like you have some anger issues there bud.


Have you seen any videos of the Ecoboost F150s in the Drive F150 events? They are of a red crewcab FX2 Ecoboost, and it has outrun both V8s available in 2011. Ecoboost isn't even available to order in a regular cab shortbox configuration. Get your facts straight before you go blasting it.

@ Ken

You have your facts wrong as well. The driver pulled out of the BITD race because of safety issues. He was out there with 800HP trucks and everyone's running pedal to the metal; being out there with half the horsepower he felt that it was best to pull out of the race to avoid any safety hazards or any damage to the truck. The SCORE Baja 1000 race is a completely different race; more about endurance rather than speed.


Let's just say he/she is not the sharpest knife in the drewar.

Power comes from gasoline. So my point of view is, that V6 Eco boost has power almost like V8, torque almost like diesel V6, MPG like V8 and reliability like 4 cylinder. Nobody makes miracles. Not even ford. I want to see MPG numbers finally. Not some childish videos.

they have problem whit this engine before,another race.,,,yes or no..

@oxi: the ecoboost actually makes power, your 22r was a slug

When I get my Eco boost, I'm going to tow a log in the Baja 1000. Because thats what I do with a truck...then I'm going to pick up some groceries after my tanning salon session, and do a huge burnout so people don't misinterpret my Ecoboost for a Eco-Prius. But first I'm going cover the entire bed with fluffy shag carpet so my twin chihuahua's don't slide all over the place, finally I'm...omg your still reading this crap.

@ tomtrx4

oxi's comment was simply about endurance, and if you've EVER been around off roading at all you need only say 22r and EVERYONE knows of the engine because its simply legendary. its hands down one of the toughest 4 cylinders ever made. they werent fast by any stretch of the imagination but tough they definately were.

Hate to say it but the 22re was one tough little engine-that-could! I have several friends that run them on ht snow drifts in the hills do to weight and shear endurance

@ tomtrx4

Their were many times I red-lined my 22r during my racing days in the silt beds. I ran my truck in Low-4 (no front diff.) pulling 35's with posi'd rear with stock 4.10's.

My 22r was helped with a 40mm Weber carb. and Downey headers but other than that she was original during the desert races.

Like I have said before you can have the most powerful motor out there and the only good it will do is get you to the rock that puts you out of the race FASTER!

Baja racing is about endurance and survivability, of who makes the fewest mistakes or has the fewer breaks because you need to finish to place.

Your truck needs to be well balanced. If you just focus on the motor you will not get far because the tranny will break or overheat, you may bust the rear-end, a driveshaft, loose the brakes, blow the radiator, roll the truck, bust the shock mounts, loose an a-rm, loose some gears while have others, loose the alternator, get lost, fall off a cliff, smash into a rock, a civilian car, blow a few too many tires, get stuck and so forth BUT YOU HAVE THAT SOLID MOTOR YA KNOW!

Yes, the 22R is tough, but was it ran at a horsepower/torque per inch level same as the ecoboost? NO! So, where as power increases, of course, reliability usually decreases! A 120 or 140 hp or so 2.2 should have a much longer life than a 365/420 ft pound 3.5 L ecoboost, at max output, when both are ran really hard. Put a turbo or superchager on that 22R and run it at the same power lever per inch as the ecoboost, we will see if it runs the same amount of miles. Because as true as Oxi and Hemi lol's statement might be about endurance and the fact that "IN ORDER TO FINISH 1ST, YOU MUST 1ST FINISH", IT IS STILL A RACE! You want to win you gotta go hard, if you just wanna finish, go slow. Yeah, i had one 22R in an 85 CELICA GTS, good little dependable car, cornered good, was alot of fun autocrossing! Can't tell you about it's long term reliability, only had it less then a year and some girl with no insurance in a Blazer rearended it! But I was spoiled cause my Turbo 2 Daytona made so much more power, but that's an apples to oranges comparison!

I myself think the ecoboost idea is great as the turbos tend to make great low speed power, (some folks are stuck on believing Turbo anything means RPM, high strung. Just depends on how you set them up!) But I'm skeptical it will last on gas. And the cost to maintain. Great torque, good mileage idling at the stoplight and at light and medium loads, compared to that big v-8, but yet under heavy load, it will burn that gas! So under a load you thought your 6.2 Chevy, 5.7 Hemi, 5.4 was bad, think again! Cause all the new found torque you will most likely find yourself going faster! But you will have less shifting!

@hemi lol: since Ford is doing this, makes me wonder: Has Toyota ever entered it's (dealer installed??) supercharged Tundra in such of an event to test? I honestly don't follow Baja. Same concept.


Could have been a factor since that's always a risk in racing. Spin aside, the fact is Pickuptruck article clearly quoted the driver saying he didn't want to be out there unless he could win.


Where can we find the results from the Davis Dam towing competition? or when and where will it be available to look at?

@Tucker: I think the Davis Dam video will be on Ford's site late next week.

Its good to see Ford is the only manufacturer with the nuts to do something like this and I hope they win. Can't wait to see the outcome! Good job ford!!!!!


The V-8 was a 4x4 with different axle ratio..not the exact same...the 6.2 should crap all over the tuner sounding 6 shooter..

@ tom trx4

i dont know that it occurred to toyota to try to enter a stock tundra in a baja race. what would that really prove? longevity? reliability? i bet noone on here really believes toyota builds junk that doesnt stand the test of time. if so, i bet theres alot more people that think that person has been in a coma for the last 30 years lol.

this DOES NOT mean that i dont respect ford for tryin it out. mad respect for them for it. i even hope they do well! (i wouldnt care for the mouthiness that would come from it) honestly it doesnt really prove anything in "trucking". that doesnt prove how it will handle a load day in day out without failures. its simply advertisement, creative yes relevant i personally dont think so much so but thats my opinion. i would respect it MORE if and only IF they raced a COMPLETELY stock truck (which they arent) they are just racing a stock engine and trans.

I don't doubt reliability on the the Tundras, but the dealer installed supercharger, thrown onto a 10.2 to 1 compression engine, I would be a little skeptical as well. It's just a bigger engine with about the same concept; forced induction running on gas. The Baja test is just one way for them to test endurance, we will have to see how theses ecoboost engines do with over 100,000 mile real world miles.


Toyota debuted the new 4Runner in stock class last year in the Baja 1,000. It did well just missing the win by seconds on time.

They also ran a stock-ish 4Runner at Moab.

The Tundra in racing and marketing speak is spending more time with Nascar and short course off-roading.

Todd Bodine just won the drivers title with his Tundra this year in Nascar and Johnny Greaves won the title with his 900hp Tundra in the Torq Series off-road racing.

I saw Johnny win the title though he finished 2nd to Rick Heusmann's Tundra at Crandon, he still won the title for the season.

Toyota made its mark with Ivan Stewart in the desert and it helped to sell many Tacoma's but the Tundra did not get much backing in Baja when it came out because Toyota was moving into Nascar full power thus the marketing went with them.

Toyota could field and back Tundra's in the desert but they are having success with Nascar and those 900hp Monster Tundra's in the short course circuits these days...

@Oxi: the Nascar toyota engine is very far away from anything in a Tundra-same is said for the Ram, the F150, and Silverado. not even close. Just racing engines, altho the Toyota has been really good. Hoping Harvick beats that kid in the 11! That's great you took all that time to tell me all about Toyotas racing, but the point I am trying to make, IF TOYOTA WANTS TO SHOW HOW RELIABLE THE SUPERCHARGED TUNDRA IS, WHERE CAN THEY GO?? They can't do it in the class the ECOBOOST is running in,, I have no problems with them letting a turbo'd v-6 run with built v-8s, as I am sure they have a formula in the rules for what can & can't be done and CID.

The NASCAR Toyota engine is basically a copy of a small block Chevy V8. The rules restrict any high tech wizardry. It's like top fuel where the rules restrict everyone to what amounts to be an old Chrysler Hemi.

These rules are stupid (my far from humble opinion). They exist - supposedly to keep racing more close and competitive.

Ford is doing Baja more as a PR move. Why else whould they put the stock engine in a race truck chassis? It still will be a good toture test. Ford would not do it if they thought they would fail (kinda like the GM/Ford high altitude challenge).

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