The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro will just have hit the market CLICK HERE FOR OUR EXCLUSIVE REPORTING when the automaker enters it into its first motorsports competition. Toyota intends to prove the pickup's off-road bona fides by entering one into the 2014 Baja 1000.
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The race truck will compete in the Full Size Stock category of the grueling slog across Mexico's Baja Peninsula. As the name implies, the race covers 1,000 miles of unpaved terrain, much of it covered in boulders and sand dunes, and takes over 20 hours to complete.
The class allows minor changes to the suspension, including a conversion to leaf springs in the rear. However, aside from safety equipment, massive lighting for nighttime driving, and larger capacity fluid and fuel tanks for long distances, the truck remains faithful to the production version. Key components such as the powertrain, control arms, tie rods, wheel bearings and hubs are all Toyota factory equipment.
Toyota is no stranger to racing on unpaved roads. In the late Eighties, it teamed up with Ivan "Ironman" Stewart and campaigned a series of stadium trucks that spawned a popular arcade game, Super Off Road. In 1991, Toyota and Stewart took their first Baja 500 victory, and went on to capture several more Baja 500 and 1000 wins over the next two decades. Stewart will be coaching team Tundra, comprised of four drivers and a navigator, two of whom are to engineers at Toyota Trucks and TRD.
To test the mettle of the new 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, Toyota will be entering a "lightly" modified Tundra in the 47th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in Ensenada, Mexico, in November. Mike Sweers, chief engineer for Toyota pickups, is looking to test the truck to its limits to gain valuable information for the benefit of future Tundra owners. Manufacturers often use the brutal Baja torture-test race as a kind of proving ground for new technology and parts durability. Last year Ford entered a fully aluminum F-150 (made to look the like current-gen F-150) to see how it would hold up.
Toyota has a long history of desert racing with its Toyota Racing Development division, as well as longtime partnerships with legendary racers like Ivan "Ironman" Stewart and Rod Millen. Add to that the need to create some extra credibility for its new TRD Pro lineup — which now includes the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner — and entering this Tundra in the full-size stock class makes sense. Even if it doesn't finish, Sweers said, Toyota will be gathering valuable data for the next-generation Tundra.
The desert race team will consist of Toyota truck engineers and professional racers, with two teams of two alternating as needed until the race ends. Team members include Stewart as coach and Sweers as navigator with TRD engineer Ted Moncure, Toyota-sponsored athlete Andy Bell, X-Games winner Jamie Bestwick and desert racer Millen serving as drivers.
We called the truck "lightly" modified earlier because this will be the 800 Class full-size stock, which means that the essential guts and look of the truck need to remain similar to the factory stock model. However, racing the Baja requires special design and engineering, so this Tundra has a beefier suspension/Beyond the Class Description Guidelines; some body shaping to allow for 37-inch tires; new bed-mounted, long-travel shocks; a custom fuel tank; heavy-duty Hella lighting; full 2-inch interior roll cage; and custom seats able to hold three people in five-point harnesses.
The LIVE BAJA 1000 online event festivities begin Monday, November 10 here on BajaRacingNews.com and run for several days, but the actual race ends no matter what on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Andrew Franceschini, Toyota’s truck marketing and communications national manager, said in a statement, "Our goal is to finish this grueling race and to showcase just how awesome the new TRD Pro Series trucks are."
|TRD PRO DESERT RACE TRUCK SPECS|
|2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Crewmax 4×4 5.7L V8|
|Front Shocks||Bilstein||TRD tuned-Blackhawk Bypass|
|Rear Shocks||Bilstein||TRD tuned-Blackhawk Bypass|
|Tires||BFGoodrich®||37″ Baja T/A KR|
|Brakes||Toyota||TRD Performance Brake Pads|
|Tube Roll Cage||Herbst/Smith Fabrication||2″ .120 Wall Chromoly|
|Oil Accumulator||Accu-Sump||3 Qt. Capacity|
|Fuel Cell||Fuel Safe||Custom|
|Race Seats (Qty. 3)||Mastercraft||3G|
|Seat Harnesses & Window Nets||Mastercraft||N/A|
|A Pillar Lights||Hella||LED Rally 4000|
|Cold Air Intake||TRD||Custom Cold Air|
|Exhaust||TRD||Custom Cat-back Exhaust|
|Control Arms||Toyota||OEM component|
|Tie Rods||Toyota||OEM component|
|Wheel Bearings||Toyota||OEM component|
|Race Radio||Kenwood||TK-790H 110 Watts|
|Intercom||PCI||Comlink 10 Elite|
BajaRacingNews.com Past Class Full Stock Reporting:
In the most recent dog and pony show by a major manufacturer, FORD didn't finish the race. In 2010, there were similar questions.
In 2010, a member of the FORD Team wrote us with these details:
"As a member of Randy Merritt's Race team, our 5.4 engines have an average of 4 mpg on race day and Randy drives it very hard and to date has had very few problems in almost 7 years. We built this new truck and only put approximately 40 mile of testing on the Silver Ford F-150 before going to Mexico so we did not have a baseline to schedule fuel stops. We used our old truck as the baseline and were very impressed by its fuel economy in race conditions. Most trucks need several hundreds of test miles to see wear for possible issues and correctly get the suspension valved and tuned, but we did not have that luxury. The truck finished the race and late yesterday we were told SCORE is adjusting the finish line closing time for several cars and trucks who got caught in man made holes causing severe lose of time. The Eco Boost engine performed very well and still runs great! On Score International's web-site both Eco Boost trucks are now listed as official finishers".
Gary Newsome, Editor