If you want to go race the Baja 1000 and have a cool $295,000 or so burning a hole in your pocket, Ford will sell you its new turnkey Bronco DR. This race-ready Bronco from Ford Performance is ready to tackle everything the Baja Peninsula can throw at it and then some, but it’s not without a few ergonomic quirks that drivers may have to tweak.
Watch Us Get Behind the Wheel of Ford's Bronco DR Race Truck
The Bronco DR is a fully prepped off-road racing monster
Under the hood is a Ford Coyote 5.0-liter V8 engine that the company says is good for north of 400 horsepower, although it didn’t give a specific number. Ford was also mum on torque, but after an hour or so behind the wheel I can say that racers should be satisfied with the amount of twist coming from that Coyote powerplant.
Power gets down to all four wheels through a transmission lifted right out of the F-150, and it does a beautiful job keeping the Bronco DR in the optimal powerband when traversing across the rough stuff.
However, drivers will likely want to use the paddle shifters at higher speeds. Top speed was tested out on the Soggy Dry Lake bed in Johnson Valley, California. With enough room to pin the throttle, the transmission bounced off the rev limiter for a bit longer than was comfortable before shifting on its own. Still, the DR accelerated to 105 miles per hour and likely had a few more left to go before the smooth lake bed, and my courage, ran out.
However, it doesn’t matter how great the drivetrain is if you don’t have the suspension to match, so Ford brought in the wizardry of Multimatic and its DSSV dampers. These position-sensitive dampers can soak up the whoops with aplomb, and there is more travel than a stock Bronco to boot. Here we’re looking at 15.8 inches of suspension travel in the front, 17.4 inches in the rear. Together these features allowed me to fly at 70 miles per hour or so through some pretty rough terrain.
I later got a hot lap with pro driver Curt LeDuc, who easily managed 80 miles per hour in the same section. Sure, it feels rough but I’ve been in enough cars where just 30 mph in a rough section feels like a continuous car crash. The Bronco DR feels like riding on a cloud in comparison.
Even so, drivers will find the manual brakes a bit terrifying at first. You really have to stand on them to get the 6,200-pound rig slowed down, and that goes double for when the brakes are cold. I completely blew my first turn right out of the gate as I was expecting a road-going brake feel. Get out your ThighMaster as you’ll need to build up those muscles and press much harder than you think on the left pedal.
Also, these top-mounted pedals were obviously designed for larger feet. If I wanted the ball of my foot on either one I had to lift my heel off the floor. Once my legs got tired and I rested my heels on the floor, only my toes were in contact with the pedals. And my size 9 feet aren’t even particularly small. Fixing this is a small modification in the grand scheme of things, but Ford could have solved this problem by using floor-mounted pedals in the first place.
The Bronco DR can fit into a few classes as designated by Baja 1000 sanctioning body SCORE, but it can’t compete against the big 1,000-horsepower Trophy Trucks. In addition to SCORE, it’s also ready to race with Best in the Desert, Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts, and other organizations throughout the United States and Mexico.
All 50 of the hand-built Bronco DR units are spoken for and they should be making their way into customers' garages soon. The Baja 1000 isn’t until November, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a Bronco DR took its first green flag at the SCORE San Felipe 250 in late March.
This thing clearly means business.