The 41st running of the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 this weekend will open a new era in its grueling endurance competition when a pair of VW Touareg TDI Trophy Trucks introduces clean diesel to the powertrain technology mix. This environmentally-friendly off-road warrior will be driven by two veterans of the Mexican desert run, Mark Miller, of Cave Creek, Arizona and Ryan Arciero, of Foothill Ranch, California. Collectively, they have racked up seven career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins, including three when driving together. Willie Valdez Jr., another seasoned off-road racer and Baja competitor will be navigating for Miller while a similarly well-credentialed Benny Metcalf Jr. is being teamed with Arciero. Like the Touaregs that contested this year's grueling Dakar Rally, this strain of VW desert duelers will run in the familiar Red Bull sponsor livery. Unlike the Dakar versions that were powered by a 280-horsepower/five-cylinder TDI turbodiesel, the 5.5-liter V12 TDI engines in these mid-engine/rear-drive Trophy Truck variants crank out some 550 ponies and loads more torque.
While outright victory in the event isn't likely during this maiden outing, Volkswagen hopes that a respectable finish would expand on the burgeoning reputation of its newest engine package in competition as well as on the street. It would also help put the spotlight on something a bit more contemporary than the iconic VW buggies and desert Beetles that have managed 13 outright Baja wins and hundreds of class victories since 1967.
"We've had success running our clean diesel TDI powered vehicles at the Dakar Rally, Baja 500, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and also in our Jetta TDI Cup series," said Clark Campbell, motorsports manager, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "This entry of a new, purpose-built Touareg TDI Trophy Truck is the next step in the evolution of our motorsport program and showcases our commitment to racing clean diesel vehicles and to SCORE International."
Sal Fish, president and CEO of SCORE International, is equally enthusiastic about welcoming this new level of manufacturer involvement and the potential for advancing the nature of the competition. "Over the past 40 years, Volkswagen's vehicles and technology have had a significant impact on how the SCORE Baja events basically developed. We look forward to the future of this partnership and also to clean diesel technology making its way into our sport."