EcoBoost F-150 Wins Vegas to Reno Off-Road Race

EcoBoost F-150 Wins Vegas to Reno Desert Race

Randy Merritt and the team at Mongo Racing won last month's "Vegas to Reno" off-road race in the No. 8181 EcoBoost Ford F-150.

Part of the Best in the Desert racing series, the 549-mile long Vegas to Reno run is billed as the longest off-road race in the U.S. The race started in Beatty, Nev., about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and finished in Dayton, Nev., a small town about 30 miles south of Reno.

Merritt and his co-pilot, Tracy Rubio, competed in Class 8100 for stock full-size trucks, finishing with a time of 14 hours, 5 minutes.

Until last year, BITD racers like Merritt were allowed to compete only with naturally aspirated V-8 gas engines or turbo-diesels under the hoods of their full-size race trucks. But for the 2010-2011 season, BITD changed its rulebook to allow Ford's EcoBoost twin-turbo six-cylinder to compete in stock classes 8000 and 8100.

Classes 8000 and 8100 cover race trucks built from full-size pickups and SUVs with production volumes of more than 4,000 units sold within a three-year period. Class 8000 trucks are the open stock racers. Custom rear suspension components and mount points, engine bores and strokes different from factory specs and any transmission are allowed from the truck’s manufacturer. Class 8100 trucks are closer to the original vehicles’ specs. They have to keep their front and rear suspension configurations and mount points, engine displacement and the original transmission.

At the finish line, Merritt said, "It’s been awhile, but winning the longest off-road race in the United States feels great. The General Tire, KC Hilites, Knock Out Energy 2011 Ford F-150 ran great all day, and the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 direct-injection twin-turbo engine again proved to be enough to conquer the harsh Nevada desert, but we need to go back and try to determine what caused both of the fuel pumps in the truck to falter."


Way to go; Randy Merritt, Mongo Racing, and of course Ford!!!

The Ford 3.5L V6 EcoBoost is getting it done!!! Showing the V8s that there is a new kid in town!

Great Job Ford (Ecoboost)!

@Mike Levine

Can you tell us when your half-ton shootout will be posted?



Congrats Team!

Congrats to Randy and the Ford team. So where's the Raptor !

i still think the ranger needs an engine upgrade...WTF FORD!!!

It would be interesting to see a teardown of the engine and turbo's after a season of racing in the dust.
How was the stock frame?

I agree with Lou. Let's see what condition those turbos are in after a season in the sand and dust. The simple fact that the engine survived a race doesn't do anything to justify it as a V8 alternative. I want to see long term reliability when worked hard. When Ford tore that other engine down they noticed wear they didn't expect.

That engine put up with more than I would ever put it through.
Racing exploits weakness's a manufacture has to offer. We the consumer win.

We have the same engine,turbos,trans Ect in the truck as we had at the Baja 1000. This is the same truck that completed the 1000 and just won Vegas to Reno. We have raced every race on the BiTD race schedule including the General Tire Mint 400 a S.N.O.R.E. series ''which will be on Fuel t.v. sept 18 at 7 pm pacific'' the EcoBoost is a very impresive engine and the frame only has a few dings in it. As far as a engine tear down or turbos that probably wont happen, as it is now when a part fails either while pre running or testing that part goes into the trash can and I go to my local Ford dealership and buy a new one so I hope I dont loose a turbo lol! So for more info on what we are doing at Mongo racing check us out at

Randy Merritt-

Thank you!

Take that all you paranoid naysayers!!! Long live superior engineering (Ford)!

Not too often you hear from the horses mouth on how it is holding up. Thanks Randy!

So you lost a turbo, just by testing , or pre running ?

Never lost a turbo or anything else with drivetrain ''knock on wood''.


Wow, this is the same Ecoboost 448AA Engine?

Wowee looks almost like mine! all black reg cab a real truck! I might just get those pre-runner style bumpers! looks awesum! and as soon as the tires have only 50% tread left, on with the Generals! and Black Wheels w/teflon coating! just about have the $ for the Fox shocks, and as soon as I hear of a tuner for the EB I will get that and the CAI and exhaust to go with, 6.2Ford & Chevy,, 5.7Hemi, 5.7 iForce, eat my dust! The only way they can keep up is to add forced induction! Just the other day a friend took me for a ride in his Vortec equiped 5.3 CHevy reg. cab 4X4 very nice! but I don't have enough $$ to do mine 5.3 and the EB! oh well don't tell my wife!

@Frank - Yes, this is the same engine that finished the baja 1000 and is still racing. Our next race is October 14-16 here in Parker. You can follow us at



Did I read that right... you changed out a fuel pump during a one minute pit stop?

@DRAPER: Engine 448AA? Wasn't that the engine that was dissasembled in front of a live audience at a fairly recent autoshow?

Frank is confusing people. This is not the 8AA. Ford had Mike McCarthy and Randy Merritt each racing a Ford F-150 EcoBoost V-6 truck in the Baja 1000. Mike had the 8AA that was later torn down for the torture test. Randy Merritt and the Mongo Racing team raced a second F-150 with another EcoBoost V-6. This is that same EcoBoost.

So it's been through two big races. EcoBoost won both. There will be a lot of haters out there. People hate technology that makes their trucks old.

January 2011, Cobo Hall, Detroit, North American International Auto Show.
Very cool display!


I was simply stating if this is the 448AA Engine? I didn't say it WAS the 448AA Engine. Does every poster have reading deficiencies? Good grief man!

Looking at the full Race Results ( I only see ONE other truck in the 8100 class and it's a Ford so why is this impressive...? The fact that a truck can drive in 550 miles or dirt or that it can beat ONE other truck while doing it...

I see two other trucks. There were 3 in the 8100 class. It beat those two trucks.

It also beat 101 other trucks overall.

Frank, Thank you for the clarification.

How many competed in this class?

I won races with my small 4-cylinder 22R with over 120,000 miles on the motor and transmission in my 1986 Toyota pickup...

Never underestimate!

I guess I should clarify for those like Tony.

It beat one other truck THAT FINISHED THE RACE in the 8100 class. That third truck in the 8100 class has a nice DNF in front of it which means DID NOT FINISH.

Great to hear that this is the same engine and truck that was in the Baja 1000.

If you want to be honest, you have to include it. It was in the race and lost. More power to the EcoBoost for finishing when there were so many that could not finish the race.

Merritt ALSO beat ONE-HUNDRED-AND-ONE (101) other trucks in the overall!

Where are all of the Dodge trucks if they are so great at off-roading? I don't see any.

Also, another F-150 finished #1 overall. You can see that it is an 09+ F-150 by the headlights....

Buy American is right. Built Ford tough!

Randy added, “I drove over boulders and rocks at speeds that would make most cringe out there in the Nevada desert and that stuff would have destroyed most other..."

@ OXI, "I won races with my small 4-cylinder 22R with over 120,000 miles on the motor and transmission in my 1986 Toyota pickup...

Never underestimate!"

Can you elaborate on the types? Red light to red light? Street, desert, santioned? What was the classes?

Here is what a real race truck looks like...

This is oxi's 86 Toyota that started it all..

This is oxi in the 1995 Baja 500...

This is oxi's road racing pickup...

This is oxi's Tacoma 2010 off-road trail race truck part way into pahse II...

Stay tuned for oxi's phase III pictures.

Pete Papageorge aka oxi finishes 3rd at SCCA MGA research event.


Truck enters race, becomes a truck to beat. Truck fails to finish. Gets beaten by every truck that finishes the race.

So...yeah...moparboy...I don't understand your logic?

If we applied that to NASCAR, the winner would only have beaten 34 cars instead of 42.

FTW EcoBoost!


Ram with an 8 speed and the new penstar would have done better and finished it quicker.

@ MoparMan, I'd like to see that.
Considering the penstar puts out 3/4 the power of the ecoboost.
I doubt the 8 speed could make up for that gap.

You guys do realize that an off-road race will put more stress on a driveline, in one race, than the average Joe will put on it in a lifetime................ right??

If not, then you need to do some research on racing in general, and off-road racing in particular.

Heat, and heat sink should be the achilles heal of the EB, if the naysayers are to be believed. That the same engine has completed two of these races with no failures what-so-ever, is a true testiment to their durability. Don't believe me?? Take your stock truck out to the race course, and run it at high speed the whole time. See how much of it is left at the end................. drivetrain wise.

MoparMan, get over yourself already. When a factory Pentastar V6 with the 8-speed, beats an EB in an off-road race, then you will have something to crow about. Until then, you might as well be talking about a flux capacitor powered truck, as it has as much bearing in the real world.

Sour grapes much??

@ Gloria- ROTFLMAO!

But we need to go back and try to determine what caused both of the fuel pumps in the truck to falter.

Fuel is sprayed into the cylinders at pressures of up to 2,150 (PSI), which is about 35 times more intense than PFI injection.

Brutally honest, thanks for the details Randy Merritt. How did you cross the finish line first with two faltering fuel pumps?

Quote: Never lost a turbo or anything else with drivetrain ''knock on wood''.
You don't race a hard enough.

I know the 48AA Ecoboost they tore down was still within tolerances after they ran it for thousands of miles and did the Baja 1000 with it, it was even putting out the same HP as a new engine, so really I dont think there shouldn't be any question about if the engine is reliable.


You are my hero!

Quote: Never lost a turbo or anything else with drivetrain ''knock on wood''.
You don't race a hard enough. " -zviera

You sir, have not raced in a Ford!

Dear ford...

Stuff ecoboost and 3.7 under the hood of the ranger.

Yours Truly,


@buy American
you are right. I have never raced in a ford. But I have killed audi quatro 20 years ago.

I might have missed this in an earlier article, but did you have to replace the EPAS with traditional steering when you built this truck up for race duties?
Great work on this. Congrats!


"That the same engine has completed two of these races with no failures what-so-ever, is a true testiment to their durability. Don't believe me?? Take your stock truck out to the race course"

I ran my 1986 Toyota with over 120,000 miles on the engine/transmission and it lasted 7 desert races races before we sold it...

Just changed the plugs and oil for the motor and transmission gear oil before every race...

By the way during desert off-road races you do not run flat out the entire race!

Sometimes your doing over 80 or 100 mph and then sometimes your barely doing 10 mph. The terrain will slow you down, it's your average speed...

The fastest trucks barely get above 60 mph during races on average!

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