First Ride: 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
Out of the 70-plus trucks and crossovers at the 2016 Truck Rodeo put on by the Texas Auto Writers Association, the 2017 Ford Raptor got the most attention. This event, after all, was the first time any journalist had access beyond static displays at auto shows or press images and videos. Sadly, Ford wouldn’t let anyone behind the wheel other than its in-house hotshoe from Ford Performance. Nevertheless, I was among the first outside Ford to experience the second-generation Raptor’s off-road capabilities.
Ford had set up a high-speed course in a hay field along side the vehicle staging area at the Longhorn River Ranch, TAWA’s new location for its annual truck and SUV event. The grassy field provided plenty of rolling hills and sharp ridges over its sprawling acreage, perfect for the Ford driver to show off the Raptor’s handling abilities.
Upon startup, the high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost quietly rumbled to life with a distinct noise that could only come for a V-6. The driver, Ford’s Seth Goslawski, slid the 10-speed transmission into drive and keyed the Terrain Management System into Baja mode. The truck automatically put itself in 4WD high and cut back its ESP and traction nannies. Seth punched the throttle and the truck shot forward in a surprisingly non-dramatic fashion given the slick grass still wet with morning dew. Much that can be credited to the 35-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires.
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RPM Will Enter Five Trucks In Mike’s Peak Hill Climb Challenge
The Pike’s Peak Hill Climb is a long-standing event that attracted droves of racers who fought for the fastest time up the 12.42-mile road with 156 turns climbing 4,720 feet into the Colorado sky. Sadly the hill climb has been losing participants since the course became fully paved in 2012. But it’s not all bad news for dirt-loving racers.
A new hill climb in Baja California, Mexico is on the horizon. And every inch of its 19 miles and 4,000 feet climb in elevation is all dirt.
The inaugural Mike’s Peak Hill Climb is set for October 13 through 16, 2016 and already has the attention of big-time off-roading names. One of them is RPM Off-Road team. Its lead driver is Apdaly Lopez, the 2015 Baja 500 winner and 2014 X-Games Gold medalists in Stadium SUPER Trucks. Joining the Bristol, Tennessee-based team are Justin Matney, Lalo Laguna, Juan Carlos Lopez, and Clyde Stacy.
Matney is the 2016 Parker 425 winner, while Laguna has the winning trophy from the 2015 Baja Sur. Needless to say, RPM has a decent driver list. Apdaly, Justin, and Lalo will be piloting trucks in the unlimited class, while the long-time off-road racing supporter Stacy will drive a 1450 truck.
The inaugural run of Mike’s Peak will only host 144 driver entries. Classes range from full-on unlimited trucks to quads, motorcycles, UTVs, and cars.
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Toyo Tires and Desert Trophy Truck Champ BJ Baldwin have teamed up yet again for the third installment of Recoil. If you’re not familiar with the videos, take a look at part 1 and part 2, but not before hanging your head in shame. Each video outdoes the last one with high-flying jumps, a crazy hooning, and some type of furry, yet menacing woodland creature. (You should have been keeping up all along.)
Anyway, Recoil 3: Sasquatch Hunter showcases Baldwin’s hand-built, 800-horsepower, Baja race ready Chevrolet truck in all the right ways. Its massive coil-over shocks and robust suspension system allow the truck to jump over intense obstacles and land without breaking a bolt – time and time again. The outrageous amount of horsepower spewing from the V-8 allows for smoky burnouts, no matter the speed. The slow-motion footage shows just how much abuse the truck can handle.
But who’s BJ Baldwin, you ask? He’s the back-to-back winner of the Desert Trophy Truck Championship in 2010 and 2011, the winner of SCORE-international Trophy Truck competition in 2006 and 2008, and has more than 18 years of racing experience behind his name.
Though Baldwin has a serious racing career, these videos are all about having fun. And if the impressive jumps aren’t enough to impress you, the truck’s ability drift sideways without flipping over or blowing a tire will. Much of that credit can be given to the truck’s wide stance and the beadlock wheels holding the Toyo tires in place.
Motorsport legends and all-round thrill seekers Ryan Millen and Andy Bell decided it would be fun to drive a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro up the side of several volcanoes in uncharted Chilean wilderness. Yep, volcanoes – in a truck. Then again, it’s the same truck (and the same guys) that tackled the Baja 1000 in mostly stock form.
The Toyota-sourced video shows the pair absolutely abusing the Tundra TRD Pro over treacherous terrain filled with jagged rocks, huge crevices, boiling springs, and lava flows. The truck seems to handle the punishment with ease, never breaking or even having so much as a flat tire – at least on camera.
Though it’s a sensationalized video with daredevil stunts no normal person would try, it does show that modern trucks are beastly machines, especially ones upfitted to handle such off-road terrain.
The Tundra TRD Pro is accompanied by the Tacoma and 4Runner TRD Pro in Toyota’s three-member heavy-hitters’ club. All three are fitted with heavy-duty shocks, upgraded skidplates, meaty tires, stronger wheels, and extra ground clearance. In the Tundra’s case, it also comes with a full performance exhaust system that spews beautiful noises from the 5.7-liter V-8 under the hood.
Make sure to watch the video in hi-def and on full screen. The vistas these guys see are simply incredible.
In the land of the Interwebz where exaggeration is the norm and idiocracy runs rampant, there lies this video: Monster Energy’s Ballistic BJ Baldwin Recoil 2 – Unleashed in Ensenada, Mexico. I kid you not; this video contains the most ridiculous driving I’ve ever seen. Period.
Let me back up.
‘Ballistic BJ Baldwin’ is a five-time national off-road racing champion and driver of the Monster Energy Trophy Truck. BBB has more than 17 years of off-road racing under his belt with impressive back-to-back wins at The Best in The Desert Trophy Truck Championship in 2010 and 2011. His other wins include a 2006 and 2008 victory at the SCORE-International Trophy Truck competition. Needless to say, he lives up to his ‘ballistic’ title.
His latest publicity stunt comes a year after the first ‘Recoil’ flick. Unlike Hollywood, BBB’s second Recoil totally outdid the first. There’s more slow-motion suspension action happening here than a Stephen King book has suspense. If you’ve ever wanted to see an independent front suspension and a live rear axle with a long-arm kit work, this is your video.
BBB’s 800-horsepower Chevrolet Silverado trophy truck careens through the little seaside town of Ensenada, Mexico, hitting incredible jumps and diving from impossible heights. Ensenada is no stranger to trophy trucks, however, as the town is home to the Baja 1000.
There’s a bit of a story line to the whole sequence, if the ridiculous action doesn’t enthrall you. So follow along for the most insane seven minutes of your life.
Click past the jump to watch the original Recoil