Trucks at Work

Raptor racing time

Rough-and-tumble off-road racing is one method vehicle manufacturers use to demonstrate the capabilities of their light truck models, and Ford Motor Co. is no exception.

Ford is sending out its 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor to do battle in the new “factory stock class” division of the “Best in the Desert” off-road racing series this year, putting the new Raptor through what Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer at Ford Performance, describes as a “grueling stretch of races” to demonstrate how this truck can take on the very toughest of terrain.

“The all-new Raptor has the DNA of a Baja race truck, with a purpose-built engine, chassis and suspension that enables it to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes or crawl over rocky terrain,” he explained.

[Here’s a look at some of the performance testing Ford conducted with the production version of the new 2017 Raptor last year.]

The key, though, is that this racing Raptor is mostly a “stock truck,” meaning that much of it uses production-level components and materials, though with some modifications.

Here are a few of the “Racing Raptor” specs to chew on:

  • The F-150 Raptor is six inches wider than standard F-150 for improved stability off-road.
  • Torsen front differential boosts off-road capability further, significantly increasing grip for the front end and allowing the truck to pull itself over obstacles and up steep grades – even when traction is split between the front tires.
  • First-ever dual exhaust and new Ford Performance 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels with next-generation BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires enhance off-road performance.
  • Race-optimized three-inch-diameter external-bypass front and rear Fox Racing Shox similar to Raptor’s segment-exclusive internal-bypass Fox Racing Shox.
  • Race-optimized front and rear springs raise ride height to gain additional ground clearance and provide increased compression rate to handle extreme terrain.
  • Custom-fabricated roll cage.
  • MasterCraft seats with five-point harness safety belts and window nets.
  • Light emitting diode (LED) light bars, racing fuel cell, Lowrance GPS, RacePak digital dash and data logger.

Yet this Racing Raptor is powered by a stock engine and transmission: specifically a 3.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline V6 engine – which reportedly cranks out 450 hp and is exclusive to the 2017 Raptor line – paired with an all-new 10-speed transmission.

Ford noted that its “Racing Raptor” also sports a new transfer case, which manages power distribution between the front and rear wheel.

That ends up combining what the company said are the best attributes of clutch-driven, on-demand all-wheel drive with durable, mechanical-locking four-wheel drive to send power to the wheels in slippery conditions.

All of its of-road racing experience helped Ford develop its new Terrain Management System as well, the OEM noted.

That new system offers six preset “modes” to align the truck with specific different terrain and conditions:

  • Normal mode for everyday driving
  • Street mode for higher-performance, on-road driving
  • Weather mode for rain, snow or ice
  • Mud and sand mode for muddy, sandy trails and terrain
  • Baja mode for high-speed desert running
  • Rock mode for low-speed rock crawling

In the end, the “Racing Raptor” just one example of how such competitions spark design enhancements for the everyday pickup user.

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