Ford Bronco Racing Prototype Debuts In The Desert 50 Years After Rod Hall’s Momentous Baja 1000 Victory
Ford has clearly mastered the art of the slow-moving model release, as evidenced by the announcement in 2017 of its revived Bronco SUV, and despite almost three years having passed since then all we really know is that it will be with us at some point late next year.
Something definitely not slow-moving though is the Bronco R race prototype that has just made its debut in the desert. It has been developed in collaboration with builder Geiser Bros Design & Development and Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steele, and reveals some heritage-inspired design. The proportions hints of what enthusiasts can expect to see when the road-going Bronco eventually makes its world premiere next spring.
Aside from giving us a bit more of an idea of what we can expect, the Bronco R also pays tribute to Rod Hall’s historic 1969 Baja 1000 win. The feat has not been repeated since and the Bronco R will be competing in this year’s running of the nearly 1000-mile off-road race with Shelby Hall, Rod’s granddaughter, at the wheel for portions of the event.
Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer explains, “Bronco’s win at Baja in 1969 was epic, something that even after 50 years has not been repeated. The Baja 1000 gives us not only the perfect setting to honor Rod Hall’s win, it also provides an authentic testbed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco’s desert racing capability and durability.”
The latest generation Bronco takes many of its design cues from the original Bronco models of 1966-1977 and the blocky looks are a refreshing change from the smoothed-off lines of most similar SUVs out there, though the technology under the skin is all bang up-to-date.
The racing Bronco R is built on modified Ford T6 architecture, which will underpin the standard Bronco too. The independent front suspension and five-link rear chassis design are also the same as the production model’s although in this case, they have been beefed-up to cope with the rigors of racing off-road.
“Like the original Bronco, we kept Bronco R’s design authentic and simple, with a rollcage on a production-style frame, and a five-piece lightweight body on top,” said Brian Novak, Ford Performance off-road racing supervisor. “For the endurance needs of Baja’s 1000 grueling miles, we built in a limited number of race-focused parts. But even the twin turbos of the EcoBoost engine are representative of what the production Bronco will offer.”
While the wait has been interminable, it looks as though Ford’s engineers are leaving nothing to chance. Roll on Spring 2020 and the new Bronco SUV.
Images courtesy of Ford