Off-Roading

Ford confirms Bronco's return to off road racing, announces Baja 1000 entry

Ford has confirmed that the Bronco will return to off road racing this year, as a prototype.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford will mark the new Bronco's return to off road racing in this year's Baja 1000. AutomotiveMap's first reported that Ford was working on an off-road racing variant of the SUV earlier in October.

Today, the automaker unveiled the Bronco R next to the 1969 Baja 1000 winner Bronco, which was piloted by Rod Hall and Larry Minor. The new Bronco R will be driven in part by Shelby Hall, Rod's granddaughter, who will drive in honor of her grandfather.

The top-secret event took place at the start of SEMA week in Las Vegas, on the day that Rod Hall is being honored at the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, located nearby the dry lake bed where the new race vehicle was revealed to a small contingent of the automotive press.

The one-off tribute vehicle will test the powertrain and suspension of the forthcoming Bronco model, which will officially debut in the spring of 2020. It features numerous tributes to the Hall Racing history including the No. "2069" on the rear quarter panel wing. The "20" tells of the class of the vehicle while the "69" signifies what year Hall Racing first won the race, which was then known as the Mexican 1000.

Ford Bronco R

2019 Ford Bronco R

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The model has a distinctive blue roll cage.

"I am so excited and so honored to be a part of Ford's team to bring the Bronco back to off-road racing," said Shelby Hall as the dust settled and she stepped out of the restored Bronco that her grandfather Rod Hall drove in the 1969 Baja 1000. That legendary win spawned a career that bestowed him with the accolade of "winningest racer of the Baja 1000" and made him one of the most-renowned desert racers in the world.

Shelby Hall is a third-generation Hall family racer, who was trained by and had raced with her grandfather many times, and now will be part of Ford's team when this year's Baja starts in Encenada, Mexico later this month. "The adventure continues for my family—and for Rod, even though he passed away earlier this year. It will be his 50th birthday the day the race starts and the 50th anniversary of his Baja 1000 win, when we strap into the new Bronco R race truck. We will be taking the Bronco back to the Baja and I can imagine him sitting in this new race Bronco—and whooping it up!"

The Bronco R's story all began in July, hidden behind a security door in a Ford studio basement. Led by Paul Wraith, Bronco chief designer, the Bronco R was co-developed by Ford Performance in collaboration with builder Geiser Bros. Design and Development and Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steele.

Ford Unveils Bronco R, Will Return to Baja 1000 | Ford Performancewww.youtube.com

"For me, it's an awesome opportunity to step into the new Bronco R in the upcoming Baja 1000 and follow in the footsteps of a famed racer that I got to see and know as a kid growing up, " said Cameron Steele, one of the country's top off-road racers who started watching the Baja races at age 2, began navigating for his Dad 36 years ago and started his own career 32 years ago. "It's mysterious to be in these shoes."

The team created a design that is informed by Ford's Bronco heritage and modern off-roading equipment requirements. The team used cutting-edge tools including virtual reality, polygon modeling, and 3D printing to develop parts. Low-fidelity prototyping and role-playing aided their problem-solving during development.

Ford says that this model has a compressed body height, long-travel suspension, and ultra-wide stance, giving a few solid clues about what to expect from the forthcoming Bronco.

It has a slightweight composite body that includes a clamshell hood and roof. There are also clean body panels that are reminiscent of the first-generation Bronco. Washers inscribed with the Bronco name are can be found around the exterior.

Recaro seats provide the interior accommodations for three. There is also a MoTeC data acquisition system.

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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