If you've ever been to the Baja during the 1000 race or watched it on TV, you probably found yourself asking how they do it. Specifically, how does a group of people put together a truck to tackle the toughest terrain on earth? Professional racing in any motorsport typically takes big bucks and full-time dedication. As such, the dream of owning a Baja-worthy race vehicle and actually competing in the SCORE Baja 1000 usually vanishes as quickly as the dust after race day when you start adding up what it costs. However, let's take a look at one particular team's effort in hopes of inspiring future racers while providing a little clarity about what it actually takes to compete in a low-budget average-Joe format.
This is Bob's truck before he ever thought he'd be racing the 1000 in it. Lucky for Bob, N
After the transformation occurred, Bob's new race Titan still shared a resemblance with it
Sure everybody wants a Trophy Truck, but very few can afford to play that game. That's why SCORE created the Sportsman Truck class. In the Sportsman class almost anything goes. Originally it was intended for vehicles that didn't meet the exact criteria of other more competitive and heavily regulated classes. All the same safety rules apply, such as the use of a rollcage and fuel cell, however many of the strict technical limitations governing suspension, bodywork, engine, and drivetrain are absent. This allows those of us with smaller pocketbooks to configure a race truck with parts we have lying around or from components that are simply much more affordable and available to the mainstream.
This year we teamed up with Bob Graham of Orange, California, to walk through the process of transforming a bone-stock two-wheel drive '05 Nissan Titan into a race-ready Baja Sportsman truck. Bob has been racing Baja for 11 years and knows what it takes to take on the harsh deserts south of the border. Back in 2004, Bob placed Second in the Stock Full class in his red '04 Nissan Titan 4x4. Last July, Bob decided to step it up a notch and turn the stock full truck into a potent Class 8. However, economics forced him to put the project on hold for a while. Unhappy with the idea of missing the 40th annual Baja 1000, he turned to his daily driver/prerunner and started wrenching. The result of his hard effort was a fine-tuned low-buck sportsman class contender.
Safety is always a primary concern in off-road racing. That is why all race vehicles must
SCORE rules call for every race vehicle to have at least one "always-on" amber taillight.
Bob did indeed splurge in the GPS department. This new top-of-the-line Lowrance 9300C has
*Sponsored items include Sway-A-Way shocks, AFE intake system, VHF race radio, tires, and lubricants.
|ADDING UP THE COSTS |
|Item ||Approximate cost |
|'05 Nissan Titan ||$15,000 |
|SCORE-approved Rollcage ||$5,000 |
|Ford 8.8 Rear Axle ||$1,000 |
|Camburg Suspension ||$4,500 |
|Glassworks Body Parts ||$1,200 |
|Suspension Seats ||$1,000 |
|Lowrance GPS Unit ||$2,000 |
|11 Wheels ||$8,700 |
|Fuel Cell ||$1,200 |
|Lights ||$6,700 |
|Spare Parts ||$5,000 |
|Miscellaneous Items ||$5,000 |
|Total Expenses ||$56,300* |
Some of the most often overlooked components of a race vehicle are lubricants and other vital fluids. Bob prefers Royal Purple oil in his engine, power steering, and rear differential, because Royal Purple designs its products specifically for racing applications where they are required to last longer and hold up through greater heat cycles. The aftermarket cooling system of Bob's Titan runs Evans waterless coolant because it simply will not boil no matter how hot the engine gets. The fuel Bob uses in his truck has a 100-octane rating. This allows the fuel to burn more efficiently giving Bob increased throttle response and smoother power. Together, these items give Bob a distinct advantage over other racers who use traditional off-the-shelf products.
The rear portion of the cab, though not intended for riders, does house plenty of race nec
Up front the bumper was replaced with a tubular prerunner-style bumper and lightbar. A 1/4
Wheels and tires are one place you don't want to skimp in Baja. This package consists of C
A trusty floor jack was added to the rear of the truck between the two spare tires. This i
The cockpit is all business featuring only essential race equipment. A carbon-fiber dash k