Ford’s 2017 F-150 Raptor raced at Baja, then drove straight home

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor race truck

It’s highly unusual for a stock, showroom-spec vehicle to compete in a race, let alone drive straight home afterward. But that’s exactly what the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor did earlier this month.

The latest generation of Ford’s performance truck competed in the 2016 Baja 1000, a legendary off-road race held in Baja California, Mexico. Entered by Foutz Motorsports with Ford support, the Raptor completed the 830-mile race in 35 hours, 59 minutes, and 8 seconds. Foot team members then loaded their gear into the truck, and drove it back to their home base near Phoenix, Arizona.

The truck was virtually identical to the version people will actually be able to buy, retaining the stock engine, transmission, brakes, and tires, plus niceties like air conditioning and satellite radio. The suspension was stock as well, although Foutz Motorsports recalibrated it to account for the extra weight of the roll cage it had to fit because of safety rules. A puncture-proof fuel cell and racing harnesses were fitted as well.

Because Baja also includes purpose-built race vehicles with greater performance capabilities, the Raptor was never in contention for an overall win. But the race was a valuable public relations opportunity for Ford, giving it a chance to show off the Raptor doing exactly what it was designed to do. Unlike most off-road models, the Raptor is designed not only for tackling rough terrain, but also for driving at high speeds.

Off-road racing is one of the last places where a virtually stock vehicle can be competitive in a high-level event. Ford has raced other versions of the Raptor and its F-Series Super Duty pickup truck at Baja before. In 2014, a nearly-stock Toyota Tundra TRD Pro entered the race, and even won its class, although it only needed to beat three other competitors to do that.

The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor goes on sale in December, nearly two years after its public debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Pricing starts at $49,250.