EcoBoost Goes to the Baja 1000


It’s official: Professional desert racers Mike McCarthy and Randy Merritt will each race a Ford F-150 EcoBoost V-6 truck in this year’s SCORE International Baja 1000.

The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is the first application of Ford’s gasoline direct-injection twin-turbo technology in a half-ton pickup. It’s Ford’s effort to shrink engine displacement for improved fuel economy while delivering tons of low-end power. In the 2011 F-150, the 3.5 V-6 is rated a strong 365 horsepower (at 5,000 rpm) and 420 pounds-feet of torque (at 2,500 rpm) with a flat, diesel-like torque curve. Ninety-percent of peak power is available from 1,700 rpm to 5,000 rpm.

McCarthy and Merritt’s Mongo Racing will be the first teams to introduce a turbo six-cylinder gasoline engine pickup truck to the Baja 1000. In the past, only specially tuned, naturally aspirated V-8s and turbo-diesels competed in the Baja. That prompted SCORE, the race’s administrative body, to create a brand-new class to accommodate the new mills.

McCarthy and Merritt will technically race each other in the newly created Stock Engine Truck Class instead of Stock Full, which is for production trucks. In 2008, the purpose-built Ford Raptor R raced in Class 8, for two-wheel-drive full-size trucks.

Making McCarthy’s Baja run a bit more interesting is the newly installed EcoBoost “” that’s powering his truck. The same engine first endured the equivalent of 150,000 harsh-user miles on the dynamometer, then was installed into a new 2011 F-150 to work as a log skidder in Oregon, towed a maximum trailer load at a high-speed NASCAR track and beat the competition in a towing exercise at Davis Dam. McCarthy’s truck is also the former Raptor R race chassis.

Mongo Racing’s off-the-shelf EcoBoost V-6 has Ford’s stock 6R80E transmission bolted to it. It took months of extensive preparation and transformation of a stock 2011 F-150 XL (similar to one you can find at your local Ford dealership) to turn it into a silver desert marauder.

We’ll be closely following both trucks in the race Nov. 17-21.


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