Despite several product and concept vehicle announcements for the 2019 SEMA Show, Ford kept a very cool secret close to the chest. Until this afternoon, that is, with a surprise announcement about a Baja 1000 desert race vehicle that’s based on the 2021 Ford Bronco off-road SUV. Dubbed the Bronco R, the project went from rendering to race-ready in a matter of six months. More significantly, the Bronco R also celebrates the 50 year anniversary of Rod Hall and Larry Minor famously winning the 1969 Baja 1000 in a Ford Bronco.
The Ford Performance off-road SUV will go racing November 19th-24th down the Baja peninsula in Mexico.
Bronco R race prototype is designed with the body-on-frame T6 architecture of the production 2021 Ford Bronco (shared with the Ford Ranger pickup truck)with the intent of testing its capability and durability, while a “twin-turbo” EcoBoost engine heavily reflective of what the production SUV will offer the necessary force to get the Bronco R to the finish line. Engines that have been rumored are both the 2.3L EcoBoost four cylinder as the base motor, with a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 as the upgrade.
And because it’s the Baja 1000, the race truck features independent front suspension with 14 inches of travel and a production-based five-link rear chassis design with up to 18 inches of travel, plus custom Fox shocks, 17-inch beadlock-capable aluminum wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich tires.
Much like how the Ford GT was designed, the Ford Bronco R was put together behind a discreet security door in a Ford Motor Company studio basement. A team led by Paul Wraith, Bronco chief designer, worked since July to make the race prototype do its best to tease the imminent 2021 Ford Bronco. The exterior incorporates 15 LED lightbars from Rigid, surrounding new BRONCO brand lettering in the center of the grille, with the letter ‘R’ standing out with a red finish. Washers are also inscribed with the Bronco name are visible at various points around the exterior, while also working to affix the composite skin to the roll cage beneath it.
The livery is inspired by the original Bronco racer from 50 years ago, featuring red, white and black colors accented by its blue space frame. The 2021 Ford Bronco R will wear the number “2069”. The “20” signals the class in which it will race and “69” in honor of the year in which Hall and Minor roared to an overall victory in the Mexican 1000 (now SCORE-International Baja 1000).
The Ford Bronco R isn’t the only off-road racer teasing something of what’s to come. Chevrolet has also debuted a Chad Hall Racing Silverado pickup truck, which teases the upcoming Rebel and Raptor fighter from the Bowtie Brand. For more on the Bronco R and its heritage, check out the videos embedded above and below.