Ford's All-Star Lineup Will Race Broncos In King of Hammers Event
The true testament to a vehicle's design comes when it can transcend the limits of its class. When the original Bronco was conceived, no one on the design and engineering team knew that it would become the best platform for off-road racing you could possibly get in a few short years.
The Ford Bronco had long been the favored foundation for countless conversions throughout its production, scoring numerous wins in grueling off-road races worldwide. Its rough and ready mechanics, powerful engine options, and ability to be modified well beyond original specs made it a perfect weapon for desert battles.
When designing the 2021 Bronco, Ford had its racing heritage in mind, and along with the regular production model, the racing version was developed. In fact, the sixth-gen Bronco was first revealed as a Bronco R, a race-ready prototype, introduced in late 2019.
That was more than seven months before we even know anything about the production version of the 2021 Bronco. Since the R was basically a prototype, it was engineered to adhere to the Class 2 division rules, and its introduction was perfectly timed so that it could enter the 2019 Baja 1000.
Ford had a lot of confidence in the Bronco R and decided to enter it with pretty much a stock drive train, including a V6 EcoBoost engine. Of course, a steel tube chassis was a must, as were various other safety components.
Since the Bronco R was revealed nine months before the official introduction of the road-going model, Ford mounted a body made of composite materials that resembled the standard Bronco without showing much in the way of exterior details. Despite being very fast and showing its ability to run with the best, the Bronco R was plagued with mechanical troubles (namely, a broken suspension) and crashes and barely managed to finish the race.
Sure, the beginning of Bronco R's racing career wasn't particularly promising, but Ford is not giving up, and it has just announced its new racing venture in this year's King of the Hammers ULTRA4 event.
For those who might be unaware, the King of Hammers ULTRA4 is one of the best-known off-road races in the world, held every February on Means Dry Lake in Johnson Valley, California. The event is basically an all-out, high-speed desert run, with speeds exceeding 100 mph and, since it features sections of extremely harsh terrain, considerable rock-crawling skills are required.
The competitors start side-by-side, staggered every thirty seconds, and they're required to cover the 90-mile course in less than 14 hours. The course has seven checkpoints, and repairs can be performed on the track by the drivers themselves or in the pit area.
However, before the main race (February 6th, 2021), there is a chance qualifying event, which is held on a much smaller, two-mile course. Of course, not all teams manage to get a spot on the grid for the main event, but on average, 35 teams qualify for the big race, which ensures stiff competition and fierce desert battling.
This year, Ford is making a big appearance, with its all-star team driving special Bronco race trucks in the ULTRA4 4400 unlimited class. This class is the most extreme category, comprised entirely of custom-built trucks with bodies just barely resembling the production vehicles. The race rules allow fully custom-built chassis, massive off-road tires, special suspensions, long-travel shocks, and other unique components.
Apart from all that custom hardware, Ford has equipped the ULTRA4 4400 Unlimited Bronco with a special race engine and transmission.
We can see that Ford is very serious about this race, since it hired three of the best off-road drivers at the moment, with all of them being veterans of the King of Hammers event.
This year, Vaughn Gittin Jr., two-time King of the Hammers winner Loren Healy, and three-time Hammers winner Jason Scherer will be driving the ULTRA4 4400 Unlimited Broncos. With such highly motivated and experienced drivers on the team and extremely capable ULTRA4 Broncos, we're sure that Ford will score a big win in this year's King of the Hammers event.
For all of you racing fans, the good news is that the race will be live-streamed, so all you need to do is to click on this LINK to watch it live on Saturday, February 6th.