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Wide Open Baja Challenge Cars

  Photo: John Rettie



Baja Vocabulary


Baja – a name that conjures up adventure, both for nature seekers who enjoy the outdoors and for fans who follow auto racing.


Baja California – the full name for the 775-mile-long peninsula that runs along the western side of Mexico south from its border with California. It's regarded by many as the longest in the world.


Photo: Boyd Jaynes Photography

Baja 1000 – the famous off-road race that has taken place the past 42 years. Although not quite as famous as the Indy 500 or Daytona 500, it's close. What's more, anyone can enter the race. It's not just for experienced professional race drivers.


Baja Buggies – wonderfully unique off-road vehicles that first appeared in the mid-1960s and won the earliest Baja races.


Baja Challenge – a special class of race car that competes in the Baja 1000.


Wide Open Baja – that's where Subaru enters the Baja picture.


Off-road racing enthusiasts know how all this ties together. If you don't follow off-road racing, a bit of history is in order.


A Short History of Baja Racing


Motorcycles were the first vehicles to set times racing down the Baja Peninsula in the 1960s. However, when the first official Baja race was run in 1967, the fastest time was set by a buggy built on a floor pan of a VW Beetle and powered by a VW engine.


Within a few years, specialized tube-framed race buggies took top honors, and that remained the case. Buggies won most Baja races well into the 1980s.


As race speeds increased, the need for greater performance grew. The highly modified VW engines reached their limits, so race teams switched to Porsche engines. Then they switched to V8 Chevy™ and Ford® engines, and eventually these engines found their way into the giant Trophy Trucks that have been winning major events consistently for the last decade or so.

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