Desert off-road racing is one of the few forms of racing that hasn't rolled over for the sake of money. It's not glitz and glam either. The sport has a purist heart and has produced some of the greatest drivers the racing world has known. But there is more to off-road racing than just the drivers. Desert racing is a team sport, and without the unsung heroes behind the driver there would be no sport at all. The race shop fabricators, the crew, and the co-driver are just as important to the equation as the driver. All of them do it for very a unselfish reason - their love for the sport. Off-road racing is also still very much a family race team working together. Take the Baja Shop, for example.
The 1968 Baja 1000 was the beginning for the Baja Shop. This would be Pepe Rodriguez's first Baja race and the inspiration for the name of his shop. Pepe's sons, A.J. and Jesse, watched their father compete with off-road legends Mickey Thompson, Rick Mears, and Parnelli Jones. The family trio has more than 50 years of combined experience being a part of the Southern California off-road community. The Baja Shop, located in Orange, California, has since produced more than 300 off-road vehicles. In this issue of OFF-ROAD magazine, we are featuring the shop's Ranger as a reflection of their dedication and passion to produce quality off-road vehicles.
A.J. actually bought this truck from a local repo auction. Needing a daily driver and a shop development vehicle, this Ranger would kill two birds with one stone. As with any business, customers came first. He would only have time to build the truck on weekends and after business hours. Less than a year later, with many long nights and early mornings thrashing away, the truck was completed in November of 1999. After three months of rigorous testing, one final test was required. A.J. decided to enter the truck in the MDR season opener in Barstow, California. After 300 miles of racing, the street-legal truck ended up Third in Class 7 Unlimited.
The '93 Ranger is based on a 4130 chrome-moly TIG-welded chassis. The stock chassis has been reinforced using 4130 plate with strategically placed dimples to provide maximum strength. The rear suspension delivers more than 32 inches of wheel travel from a three-link design. The rear frame of the truck was cut and lifted to accommodate the large amount of wheel travel. The truck is stabilized using a Baja Shop custom-built antisway bar system adapted from a VW torsion bar. The simplicity of this sway bar system is remarkable because of the ability to change the sway bar rate for different driving conditions easily and cost effectively. Custom 4130 equal-length I-beams provide the front wheels with 22 inches of travel. The Baja Shop built an equal-length tie rod steering system to keep bumpsteer down to 1/8-inch total variation through full wheel travel. The Sway-a-Way shocks are mounted at 15 degrees for increased steering clearance and a progressive rate of suspension travel. The engine and the drivetrain of the truck remain stock because of their proven reliability. The stock rearend was replaced with a 8.8-inch rearend for increased reliability.
Dan Vance, a long-time customer of the Baja Shop, had his eye on the truck since A.J. began the project. Over the past decade he has purchased 10 vehicles from the Baja Shop. A.J. sold this truck only after he was sure the truck would stand up to Dan's abusive driving antics. Dan continues to push the limits of the truck, flying it more than 50 feet at a time and floating it over the moguls like he was speeding down the highway in a Cadillac. For 2001, Dan intends to keep driving the truck everywhere, including to all of the MDR events where he plans to compete in Class 7. Dan pushes the truck, continuously redefining what it means to be Ford tough.
|Builder: || The Baja Shop |
Make/model : ’93 Ford Ranger
|Wheelbase (in) : ||110 |
|Width (in) : ||88 |
|Suspension : ||22-inch equal-length I-beam (front); 32-inch |
|Engine : ||Stock four-cylinder with Flowmaster exhaust |
|Drivetrain : ||Stock five-speed transmission; 8.8-inch Mustang |
|Fuel cell : ||RCI 25 gallons |
|Tires : ||33x10.50 BFGoodrich Baja Terrains on |
15x8-inch American Racing with bead locks
|Other : ||Baja Shop fabrication intake system; K&N air |
filter; Sway-a-Way shocks; Baja Shop custom
antisway bar; Premier racing products seats;
RCI seatbelts; Hannemann fenders;
PSW Signworks graphics