Although the pandemic has caused some production delays, the Ford Bronco is already on its way. Not just for testing, but for active competition. We’re not just talking about the Baja Bronco R races. This year’s King of the Hammers races featured some newcomers in the form of three Ford Bronco 4400s. And the SUVs did not disappoint.
How Ford is preparing the Bronco for the king of the hammer
Road & Track describes King of the Hammers as the dirtiest race. And that’s not really an exaggeration. Combine off-road vehicles that look like extras from Mad Max with terrain that looks like both Mount Doom and Paris-Dakar, and you get King of the Hammers.
The event takes place in California’s Mojave Desert and lasts several days, although the title race is only one day, reports MotorTrend. Or, to quote Autoweek, the toughest one-day race in the world. Of course, preparing the Ford Bronco for such an event required careful planning and extensive modifications, reports The Drive.
The three 2021 Ford Bronco 4400 King of the Hammers racers. | Ford.
The three Ford Bronco 4400 drivers in the 2021 race are from the 4400 Ultra4 Unlimited class. As the name suggests, there are no restrictions regarding tyre size, engine or chassis type. Aside from safety requirements like roll cages, the only real need is a four-wheel drive vehicle with a short range and enough supplies to survive 24 hours without help, R&T reports.
As such, the Ford Bronco 4400 only superficially resembles a road-going SUV, reports Motor1. The off-road vehicles are equipped with a special tubular chassis and four-wheel drive. The latter is at least based on the standard Bronco system, reports Roadshow. Shock absorbers and off-road bikes are definitely excluded.
racer #25 2021 Ford Bronco 4400 slides in the sand | ford
Ford has not released official power figures for the Bronco 4400. The car manufacturer just says they have powerful engines. But we know that these racers are using FIA-certified Recaro Offroad seats for the first time.
Did the Ford Bronco 4400 win the 2020 King of the Hammers race?
(clockwise, from left) Jason Scherer, Loren Hauley and Vaughn Gittin, Jr. with their 2021 Ford Bronco 4400 King of the Hammers race cars | Ford
APPROPRIATE: Participation in the Baja 1000 with a mini-bot, approved by the SCG.
The Ford Bronco 4400s each had an experienced driver behind the wheel, reports R&T. Vaughn Gittin Jr, the reigning Formula Drift champion, drove. The other two were driven by Jason Scherer and Lauren Healy, both former winners of the King of the Hammers, reports Autoweek. Scherer has won three times and Healy twice.
Unfortunately, none of the Bronco drivers were able to enter this year’s race on February 6 to score a victory, Autoweek reports. Although Gittin Jr. finished fifth, first place went to Randy Slauson, who was a rival to the first-ever King of Hammers winner, Jay Reynolds. The 2021 race is his third win.
APPROPRIATE: The Ford Ranger Raptor has been spotted with a spied Bronco.
Although, to be fair, only finishing the King of Hammers race is considered an impressive achievement, reports Roadshow. This year, only 37 of the 84 participants completed the race. And all three Ford Bronco 4400 drivers finished: Scherer finished ninth and Healy 13th. And although there was no Bronco on the podium, Slauson earned a free Ford Bronco for his first place finish.
Will he be back next year?
APPROPRIATE: Ford’s 2020 construction venture is ready to go (practically).
The good news for Ford fans is that you’ll likely see the Bronco 4400 again. In a later press release, Ford confirmed that it would continue to participate in the Ultra4 4400 class. Just as the Bronco R got another shot at the Baja, the Bronco 4400 will once again compete at the King of the Hammers.
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