If you want to see just how durable a vehicle or its components are, I can’t think of a better proving ground than desert racing. Ford agrees with me, since they’ve entered a race prepped F-150 in the 2010 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, but here’s the catch: they’re fitting it with a bone stock 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 motor, good for 365 horsepower and 420 ft lb of torque. Better yet, they’re fueling it with pump gas, not racing fuel.
Don’t think that this was a special, one-off stock motor blueprinted to exact specs, either. In fact, the motor was pulled at random from Ford’s Cleveland Engine Plant assembly line to ensure that it was a true production motor. Ford will run the truck in the full-size stock class, so the EcoBoost will be up against unlimited displacement V8 motors. In desert racing, fuel economy is almost as important as maximum horsepower; what Ford gives up in performance, they’ll likely recoup in range. Reducing fueling stops will give Ford a competitive advantage over rivals running higher horsepower V8 motors.
The Baja 1000 will subject the EcoBoost motor to temperatures ranging from freezing to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and to elevations ranging from sea level to over 8,500 feet. If I remember correctly, the race has about a 40% attrition rate, and that’s for hand-built, race-prepped vehicles. I can’t wait to see how Ford does with a stock motor, and the results will go a long way towards establishing the EcoBoost V6 as a legitimate choice for truck buyers. I wish them the best.