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Parker, Arizona - Las Vegas off road racing icons, Rob MacCachren and Steve Olliges, arrived to the surrounding desert of Parker, Arizona with the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R race truck setting their sights on the podium of one of the nation's toughest off road desert race, Best in the Deserts' Parker 425.
The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R team faced some of the most treacherous elements that Mother Nature has doled out in the season opener race in over a decade. A powerful winter storm pushed across the Mojave Desert to the California/Arizona state line in Parker, Arizona. Floodgates unleashed from the sky over a 100-mile swath of land, forcing racers to overcome even more challenges than normal.
"The mud was unbelievable. The desert was very challenging and so different than I've seen it in many years of racing in the desert," said Rob MacCachren.
BITD Promoter, Casey Folks, developed a very long and demanding 142-mile race course that featured a huge crowd pleaser, the "Parker Python." Set in the middle of thousands of race teams and spectators, the Parker Python put the 275 racers through a series of looping turns and jumps before heading into the vast Arizona desert on the race course.
MacCachren , Olliges and Andy Waters rallied the impressive Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R race truck early continuing to gain momentum as the long race day went on. Navigator, Brian Lopez, kept drivers charging through everything thrown at them throughout hours and hours of rain and a race course that was eventually shut down early by BITD Officials for the safety reasons.
"It's all in a day's work," said the smiling Brian Lopez. "We have spent weeks prepping this truck and today it all paid off. We didn't have a single issue all day long. It was just a very long cold race day, but finishing on the podium is what we came here for. "
Andy Waters drove a smart first 142 miles before passing the driving duties onto Steve Olliges. Olliges later handed off the race truck to MacCachren who had started the day racing in the Corona Extra Class 1500 car that suffered a mechanical breakdown early on. After 284 brutal miles, MacCachren climbed into the standout Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R and fought off deep mud holes amid the fading light of the Arizona desert.
MacCachren commented, "It was really crazy on the race course. The holes were very deep and filled with muddy rain muck and there were cars and trucks broke down all over the place. The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R charged on without any hesitation and never missed a beat. We didn't have a single problem or flat tire all day long. BFGoodrich Tires sponsors us with the 37 inch Baja T/A KR tires and they tires took an incredible amount of punishment throughout the race."
The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R, which features modified components, was developed by SVT and Ford Racing specifically to race in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, one of the most grueling off-road races in off road racing, but this year MacCachren and Olliges will campaign the truck in the 2009 Best in the Desert season.
"Impressive was how much we abused the FOX RACING SHOX suspension on the Raptor today. This is not a truck that has big suspension, but this was a race that many other racers saw suspension failure. The FOX Shox team has once again stepped up to the plate in providing a proven suspension able to handle all of the extreme abuse," commented MacCachren.
"This is a great opportunity for everyone involved in the Raptor program to get more real-time data on how the truck performs in the most extreme contitions," stated Cliff Irey, Manager of truck motorsports for Ford Racing Technology. "We need to push the truck harder than we'd ever expect our customers would to ensure that the production F-150 SVT Raptor is the ultimate factory-available high-speed off-road truck."
"Ford's commitment to using racing as a test bed for new technologies is expanding to the off road arena with the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R," said Brian Wolfe, Ford Racing Technology director.
Prepared for racing in long distance off-road endurance events, the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R uses stock components of F-150 SVT Raptor, including the transmission, brakes and axles. The frame - the part of the truck that will take the most stress - is the same proven fully boxed frame that delivers class-leading towing and hauling in the base F-150. The race truck is powered by a specially calibrated 500 horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 engine.
"The race truck has even more suspension travel, better approach and departure angles, more horsepower, more ground clearance, and full racing specification seats, safety cage and harnesses, all of which combine to make an even faster, more visceral off-road experience," said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief engineer.
The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R not only emulates the 'Built Ford Tough' motto with its toughness and capability, but it also shows the level of high-performance vehicles that SVT develops.
"Raptor R is a natural SVT extension of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor," said Hameedi. "It's very analogous to what a race prepped Cobra R was to an SVT Cobra or what a Mustang FR500C is to a Mustang GT."
The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R in the Best in the Desert series also serves as a test bed for the development of a lineup of race-proven, desert-tested, off-road performance parts that will be available through the Ford Racing catalog.
Drivers Rob MacCachren and Steve Olliges each have impressive racing resumes, both winning numerous off-roading championships. MacCachren has won over 100 events and 15 championships in his career to date. Olliges has 30 class wins as well as seven off-road championships. Both drivers have also won their respective classes in the prestigious Baja 1000 during their careers.
Ford Truck Motorsports has a successful past in off-road racing, sponsoring the desert endurance racing series "Best in the Desert" with Ford trucks serving as the official vehicle.
The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor R returns to the desert on April 18, 2009 for the Terrible's Town 250, the second race in the six-race Best in the Desert off road racing series. Visit the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor online at f150svtraptor.com
Rob MacCachren is sponsored by Ford, BFGoodrich Tires, Ford SVT, FOX RACING SHOX, Team FORD, Mastercraft Race Seats, Nevada Off Road Buggy and ROCKSTAR Energy Drink.