The 2017 Ford Raptor is redesigned, re-engined, and it looks great in pictures. But now it’s faced with the challenge of proving itself all over again. So Ford is putting it through six major off-road races this year, in stock condition. Sort of.
A lightly modified EcoBoost Raptor will be racing in the 2016 Best In The Desert season with events all over the American south west.
“This is the most stock truck I’ve ever seen in my time building Ford race trucks,” said Ford’s race truck builder and driver Greg Foutz in a press release.
Those of you who have been reading about Raptors since way back might remember that their reputation was a little shaky early on; namely when people were snapping frames because they treated the things like trophy trucks. Or carnival rides.
The original Raptor wasn’t particularly weak, but it did (does) encourage a style of driving that’s exceptionally harsh. And to that end Ford would like me to inform you that “the purpose-built fully boxed frame of the all-new Raptor—the backbone of the truck—features more high-strength steel than the outgoing Raptor.”
As for this new race truck, it’s going to run the same frame, engine, AWD/4WD system and even terrain-selectable traction control as the version you’ll be able to buy at a dealership soon.
The transfer case that controls 4WD is new, which Ford explains; “manages power distribution between the front and rear wheels, combines the best attributes of clutch-driven, on-demand all-wheel drive with durable, mechanical-locking four-wheel drive to send power to the wheels in slippery conditions.”
Ford’s new Terrain Management System can be selected between “normal,” a high-performance street mode, a bad weather mode, “Baja mode” (high-speed desert driving) and a rock-crawl mode. That will basically manage traction control settings, shift schedule of the 10-speed automatic and probably throttle response.
Of course the race truck will also get a few more goodies that won’t be on the standard version:
- Bigger external-bypass front and rear Fox Shox.
- Beefier springs that allow for more ground clearance and and increased compression rate.
- Roll cage.
- MasterCraft seats, five-point harnesses, window nets.
- LED light bars, racing fuel cell, Lowrance GPS, RacePak digital dash and data logger.
The truck will compete in Best In The Desert’s new Factory Stock class (1200), in which it will probably run unopposed.
Factory Stock vehicles can be 2WD or 4WD, have to have been built as a “new vehicle” in the past five years and must be mass-produced at a pace of at least 4,000 trucks built within 36 months.
Trucks in the class “must be marketed as a full-size half ton pickup truck with (GVWR) ranges from 6001–9000 lbs” with a bed no shorter than four feet as per The Best In The Desert rulebook. Factory Stock trucks also have to run street-legal tires, and this Raptor will run BF Goodrich KO2s just like the standard one.
Basically everything has to be “factory,” including engine internals and suspension components. Ford has a little advantage here because they are the factory and can build whatever they want for their race rig; such as the bigger shocks mentioned above.
If you want to get deeper on regulations, you can find the rest of the Factory Stock rules on page 41 –45 of the book.
Foutz will be driving with Tim Casey joining him in the truck at the Parker 425, Mint 400, Laughlin Desert Classic, Vegas to Reno race, Bluewater Challenge (in Parker, Arizona again) and the Pahrump Nugget 250.
The first Parker race is coming right up on February 4th, and the series will be running all the way until December. I’m excited to hear about how this thing does, and I’ve got to say I love the livery.
Hey Toyota, you’ve got 24 hours to get a Tundra ready!
Images via Ford