You've heard of the Baja 1000 off-road race (if not, you should—they have been staging that race since 1967). There's also the Baja 500. Originally, those races were aptly named because they covered 1,000 or 500 miles, respectively (actual mileage may vary, as the course changes from year to year, but it's close).
Racing in that event takes months of preparation and typically includes a "pre-race run" to check the conditions of the terrain. That's important, because the Baja peninsula is prone to wicked storms, and roads that were there one week can be gone the next.
Imagine a Baja race driver, TRD's own Ted Moncure, sitting around with the editors of Motor Trend and Toyota PR guru Craig Taguchi, and the talk turns to what it would be like to drive the Baja peninsula—for fun. Someone throws out the idea: If 1,000 miles is good, then 2,000 miles is better!
So the gauntlet was thrown down: Plan a trip to drive from Toyota's headquarters in Torrance, California, down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (at the tip of the Baja peninsula)…then drive back again!
The timing for this adventure was perfect: The vehicles of choice would be a new 2015 TRD Pro Series Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner—all in white—which earned them the nickname: Baja Stormtroopers.
As Ted Moncure, TRD's product development manager, said, "We knew it was a long way there and back. A lot of dirt. A lot of pavement. Conditions that have been known to crush lesser trucks. So what did we choose? Three stock trucks. The only additions we made: Each truck got a race radio, courtesy of Long Beach Racers, and a motion GPS system. I also created detailed ‘pit books' for each truck that contained maps of the route, the hotels where we were staying, names of our next of kin…you know, the usual stuff."
The key is the fact that each was a TRD Pro Series model. That meant features like TRD alloy wheels, aggressive tires, and complete TRD suspension upgrades, so the trucks were ready to face the challenges of Baja.
The reality is that most owners never take their 4-wheel-drive vehicle off-road, so they have never enjoyed that aspect of their Toyota. This trip would put these Toyota TRD Pro Series vehicles to the test—and one of the toughest tests was surviving the drive down the freeway from Toyota's headquarters in Torrance down to San Diego, where our team met Baja legend Ivan "Ironman" Stewart at his favorite coffee shop. One of the crew even brought along an original version of Ironman's Nintendo game to get autographed—now that's legendary.
With Ironman behind the wheel of his personal Tundra, the four vehicles headed south of the border. Once they passed through Ensenada and Santo Tomás, Ivan was kind enough to spend time with each of the journalists, giving them some off-road driving tips on how being smooth also makes you faster. This was also the perfect time to showcase the capabilities of these new TRD Pro Series models.
One of the highlights of San Ignacio is the fact that it's an oasis. The city actually boasts more date palms than residents. And, no, date palms are not indigenous to Baja; they were brought there in 1728 by the Jesuits, who built a mission there. They also brought along citrus trees.
Next on the agenda: Todos Santos, where you can drive on the beach, and it's famous as the location for Hotel California, the song that inspired The Eagles song of the same name.
On the trip back, in a little town north of Loretto, while our adventurers enjoyed fish tacos at a "shack on the beach" they were entertained by a dog "fishing" by jumping on the fish in the surf.
Everyone made it back to Torrance in one piece and filled with a lifetime of tall tales. The most amazing feat: The TRD Pro Series Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner made the entire trip with no flat tires! No mechanical failures! And no squeaks or rattles! They handled everything thrown at them and were ready for more!
Toyota and TRD are entering a lightly-modified 2015 TRD Pro Series Tundra in the 47th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, which is being held this November 12-16. TRD and Toyota Trucks Chief Engineer Mike Sweers said, "My job is to ensure that the Tundra exceeds the expectations and demands of every single one of its owners. With over 1,000 miles of harsh terrain, the Baja 1000 is the ultimate proving ground for research and development that helps us to continuously improve our trucks."
"Competing in the Full Size Stock class allows our team to test the Tundra TRD Pro as close to stock as possible and showcase its strength and durability in the Mexican desert's treacherous terrain," said Andrew Franceschini, Toyota Truck Marketing and Communications National Manager. "Our goal is to finish this grueling race and to showcase just how awesome the new TRD Pro Series trucks are."
All shock absorbers look alike on the outside. Inside, TRD Bilstein Shocks are quite different from aftermarket Bilstein Shocks. The 2015 Tundra TRD Pro Series, for example, has 60-millimeter shocks with 18-millimeter shafts. This design allows for an additional 2 inches of front wheel travel. At the rear, the 60-millimeter shock absorbers include a remote reservoir for improved heat dissipation and provide an additional 1.25 inches of wheel travel.
TRD Shock Absorbers are designed specifically for our vehicles and are manufactured to Toyota's stringent specifications. Once installed, they change the extended and compressed length, which results in superior wheel travel while doing a better job of keeping the tires in contact with the ground for excellent traction. So when you're in the market for new shocks, check out what TRD has to offer.