Nearly stock Raptor hits SEMA then the Baja 1000

Ford is looking to prove the 2017 F-150 Raptor by fire. A nearly stock Raptor is set to compete in the 49th running of the SCORE Baja 1000 race – a grueling 1,000-mile off-road endurance race that tests man an machine against the against the clock and roughest desert terrain in Mexico.

Not much had to change before Ford could race the Raptor. Safety measures like roll cages, five-point harnesses, and a fuel cell had to be added, but otherwise, the truck is running its stock powertrain, wheels and tires, and suspension. Ford says it did recalibrate the standard-issue Fox Shocks to accommodate for the added weight inside the truck.

Driving for Ford is Greg Foutz, a four-time Baja 1000 winner. Foutz isn’t heading into the Baja without getting familiar with the new 2017 Raptor, however. He and the truck have already competed in several Best in the Desert events this year, including the 645-mile General Tire Vegas to Reno race this past August. Despite the rough terrain, it only took Foutz 15 hours to complete the event. Foutz and the truck have brought home four first-place wins out of five races.

The new truck, according to Foutz, is much better suited for racing than the first-generation Raptor. “There are an extra two inches of wheel travel, plus the all-new 10-speed transmission never has to hunt for the right gear,” he says. “The new Baja mode keeps the turbo spooled up – it’s miles better than the previous off-road mode.” Foutz would know; he raced the first-gen Raptor at Baja in 2008.

Keep reading for the full details of Ford’s Baja 1000 Raptor.

Exterior

This truck might not look stock, but it its. The body panels are the production-spec aluminum skins, the fender flare and bumpers are factory, and even the tires are showroom ready.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Baja 1000 High Resolution Exterior
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This truck started life as a 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCab. Ford had to add a handful of exterior components before SCORE would let the Raptor race.

This truck started life as a 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCab. Ford had to add a handful of exterior components before SCORE would let the Raptor race. Up front, LED light bars are mandated to help drivers see better at night. The lights are mounted on a steel bar that’s bolted to the bumper and front tow hooks. There is a two-way radio antenna on top of the cab, as well as an aftermarket antenna in place of the standard, fender-mounted mast. Of course, what’s a race truck without a proper livery package? Ford added tons of flashy graphics to help brand the truck, along with the requisite driver names and competition number.

The only other feature this truck boasts that isn’t directly available from the factory are the wheels. They are still Ford wheels, but because they are fully functional beadlocks, Ford isn’t legal able to sell them for a daily driver. You can still buy them from your local dealer and install them yourself, however. Just don’t let the DOT catch you driving down Main Street with them.

Interior

Inside, the story of “stock” continues. SCORE does require several safety equipment before it allows vehicles to compete, so Ford was required to oblige. First, a full Chromalloy steel safety cage had to be welded inside the cab. The cage is obviously meant to protect the driver and co-driver in the event, of a rollover. Likewise, competition-certified racing seats with full five-point harnesses are required. Otherwise, the Raptor’s dashboard, center console, and door panels are all intact.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
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Note: Standard Ford F-150 Raptor interior shown here.

Inside, the story of “stock” continues. SCORE does require several safety equipment before it allows vehicles to compete, so Ford was required to oblige.

Helping the team navigate are aftermarket GPS systems that map more than just your local neighborhood streets and gas stations. Things like elevation, waypoints, and topography are included.

Drivetrain

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the stock powertrain. Ford says it has not done anything different to the standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost, transmission, and 4WD system. Technically, Ford had to modify the fuel system, adding a safety fuel cell while eliminating the stock underbody fuel tank. Apparently vehicle explosions in the Baja aren’t welcome.

As a refresher, the Raptor comes powered by Ford’s high-output 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 that generates 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. The engine is all-aluminum and features direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and an aggressive ECU tune. It comes mated to Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Behind that is Ford’s exclusive “Torque-On-Demand” transfer case. It manages power distribution between the front and rear axles like an AWD system, but locks up when full traction is needed. Up front, a Torsen limited slip differential keeps the front tires spinning while the rear differential features a full electronic locker.

Electronics wise, the Raptor now comes with Ford’s Terrain Management System. It’s like the system found in the Explorer, but comes with six modes to choose from depending on the terrain. They include Normal, Street, Weather, Mud and Sand, Rock, and Baja. Of course, the aptly named Baja mode will be the proper choice for the Baja 1000. It gives more control to the driver by limiting the intrusive behavior of the traction control system while keeping the transmission in a lower gear for higher engine revs, which in turn, keeps the turbo spooled up and making boost.

Suspension

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Exterior
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Note: Standard Ford F-150 Raptor pictured here.

Like the first-generation Raptor, Ford continues to use Fox Racing shocks. However, these shocks now have upgraded to three-inch diameter housings verses the previous 2.5-inch housings. This gives the new shocks better heat resistance and better robustness for tough terrain.

Raptor-specific front control arms are far beefier than those on a standard Raptor. They combine with other upgraded front suspension parts for greater travel and increased durability. Out back, the live rear axle is held in place by leaf springs and damped by similar, three-inch Fox Racing shocks.

This race-specific Raptor does have one suspension difference, however. Ford engineers had to retune the shocks to account for the added weight brought by the roll cage, fuel safety cell, and other necessary equipment.

Conclusion

It is fantastic to see a specialty vehicle like the F-150 Raptor get put to the test in its segment. Race cars have their day on track, so why not showcase the Raptor’s ability in the Mecca of off-road racing – Baja? What’s more, attentive customers should be smitten with the fact Ford is running a near-stock Raptor in the Race. The Baja 1000 isn’t a cakewalk, so customers can take pride in the fact their truck competed in one of the most grueling off-road races the world has to offer.

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    • * Will it survive the Baja 1000?

Press Release

Ford, America’s truck leader for nearly 40 years, will enter its all-new 2017 F-150 Raptor in the 49th running of the SCORE Baja 1000 off-road endurance event, Nov. 16-20. Four-time Baja 1000 winner Greg Foutz will pilot the truck. Ahead of the race, the Ford Performance-supported F-150 Raptor will be on display at the 2016 SEMA show, Nov. 1-4.

Powered by an all-new high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V6 engine that delivers 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque, the Baja-bound F-150 Raptor race truck showcases the level of performance this purpose-built off-road vehicle will offer straight from the showroom floor.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Baja 1000 High Resolution Exterior
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Given the truck’s unmatched all-terrain, all-condition capabilities, the Foutz Motorsports team only had to add a chromalloy steel safety cage, puncture-resistant fuel cell, racing seats and full race harness, along with LED lighting courtesy of Rigid Industries to meet SCORE rules. The factory-spec Raptor springs and Fox Racing shocks were revised to accommodate the added weight from the safety cage and fuel cell.

Foutz has run the new Raptor in several Best in the Desert events in 2016, including the most recent 645-mile General Tire Vegas to Reno race in August, which he completed in 15 hours.

Foutz says this all-new Raptor is the most production-based truck he’s ever raced. “The stock engine, transmission and powertrain calibrations are phenomenal,” he says. “Suspension-wise, everything else – including its wheels and BFGoodrich K02 tires – is carried over from the 2017 production model.”

Other production vehicle updates that carry over to the race truck include the high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body and high-strength steel frame, all-new six-mode Terrain Management System™ and advanced four-wheel-drive torque-on-demand transfer case.

Foutz says having raced the first-generation F-150 Raptor at Baja in 2008, the new truck’s multiple innovations and advanced technologies make it not just easier and better to drive, but also to race. “There are an extra two inches of wheel travel, plus the all-new 10-speed transmission never has to hunt for the right gear,” he says. “The new Baja mode keeps the turbo spooled up – it’s miles better than the previous off-road mode.”

Along with running its first-generation Raptor in the grueling desert endurance race in Mexico, Ford’s long history at Baja includes racing its F-Series Super Duty as well.

Ford Performance engineers use the race truck program as a platform to share technology and prove out their trucks in the real world. Jamal Hameedi, Ford Performance chief engineer, says the testing helps to create exciting products that not only perform, but deliver Built Ford Tough capability and durability. “We take what we learn in off-road competition with a factory stock truck to further refine our design and engineering attributes,” he says.

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