VW of America has announced that it will be sponsoring the ProjectBaja.com Class 11 VW Beetle in the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 race in mid-November. The race team is based in Denver, Colorado and plans to take the old-school Beetle out into one of the toughest races on the planet.
Made up of enthusiasts and racers with plans to check one off their collective bucket list,the ProjectBaja team is led by industrial designer Josh McGuckin.
McGuckin says the team was inspired by seeing the little Beetles bouncing through the desert as all of the big trophy trucks flew through the course, making it look easy and taking the glory.
"The Class 11 Beetle harks back to the origins of desert racing," he says.
The ProjectBaja team has already tried one Baja 1000 race, back in 2014, and failed to make the finish line. They've spent the years since perfecting their rig.
The race vehicle is a 1970 Beetle they've named "Tope." It's been restored for desert racing, running with a stock 1.6-liter air-cooled horizontally-opposed engine and a type 1 transaxle, with limited modifications for the rigors of the desert race.
Those limited mods include a heavy-duty rear torsion bar adjuster, external-reservoir dampers, stiffer springs, and a 22-gallon safety cell fuel tank. Tires are now 15-inch BFG All Terrains, of course, and the rear trailing arms have received reinforcement. Skid plates were added for underbelly protection and the interior accoutrements and upholstery were removed for weight reduction and safety. Racing communications equipment and navigation aids were added, as was auxiliary lighting. All modifications are per Baja 1000 requirements for stock rigs.
Volkswagen got involved because VW Beetle and Beetle-based racing vehicles have been a fixture at the Baja 1000 almost from its beginnings. The company decided to sponsor a team that was holding fast to that 50-year tradition. "We felt it appropriate to sponsor this team of eager enthusiasts who are following in the wheeltracks of Volkswagen desert racers over the past 50 years," said Pietro Zollino, Chief Communications Officer, North American Region, Volkswagen. "We're looking forward to tracking ProjectBaja.com's progress over the course of the event and wish them luck!"
The Baja 1000 is a point-to-point race that begins in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico and runs through to La Paz, Baja California Sur. The total route is 1,124 miles (1,825 km) long. The 2017 race runs from November 14 to the 18.