SAN DIEGO, CA, Jan 13, 2016 – In yet another epic Baja 1000, Team KORE (Kroeker Off Road Engineering) not only battled the most challenging and technical Baja 1000 in recent years, KORE also threw down the gauntlet and took on 46 of the best Unlimited Class teams in the world of professional off road racing – doing so in a production-based pickup truck called Minotaur™.
Before the race, Kent Kroeker said, “Our decision to race a production-based vehicle in the Trophy Truck class was driven by two questions – how good is our engineering and how good is our team? Where would we place if we put a Minotaur™ in the ring with with the fastest, most aggressive, and technologically advanced off-road vehicles ever built.”
Product development has always been the hallmark of KORE’s race program. The punishing terrain of Baja is KORE’s proving ground for suspension designs, motor programs and tuning ability. Some companies simply design and then sell products. KORE races with the parts they sell, putting KORE designs to extreme tests that a consumer could never imagine. The ultimate expression of this process is a truck anyone can buy at a Chrysler/Dodge dealer – The Minotaur™, a custom Ram 1500 built in Detroit by Prefix Corporation, equipped with KORE’s race-inspired suspension.
Before the race, KORE’s Crew Chief, Josh Nelson said, “Just like the Minotaur™ you can buy at the dealer, we built the race variant to Class 8 standards from a stock, Ram 1500 chassis – because our race truck is production-based, it lacks some advantages of a tube frame chassis Trophy Truck or Class 1 race car. Regardless, we believe that we will put on a good show at the 1000.”
The KORE race Minotaur™ is a formidable beast. Powered by Arrow Racing Engine’s 980 horsepower, “512 Gustav” V10 motor, this pickup is capable of attacking the roughest off road terrain at speeds up to 145 mph.
The Baja 1000 is known as “the worlds toughest race.” The 2015 Baja 1000 stood out as the toughest yet. The course was tight, technical and loose due to numerous silt beds and endless stretches of deep sand over much of the course. Out of 239 entrants, only 124 made it to the finish line.
“This is Baja racing, so we always expect problems,” said Mike Nelson, Kroeker’s Navigator, “But there was no way we could predict the weird stuff that happened to us.”
At the start, while waiting for the green flag, Kroeker and Nelson lost the ability to transmit on the radio and had to rewire the cab using tape, zip ties and a pocket knife. Then after the first 30 miles, the GPS failed and provided no course data for the rest of their section.
Nelson said, “When everything works perfectly for hundreds of miles of testing, these glitches can be frustrating. Without GPS, we missed checkpoints and strayed off course, resulting in hours of penalties, but the weirdest thing was the axle seal.”
Kroeker and Nelson had a good run, bringing what they thought was a functional truck to the driver swap at the halfway point. As they arrived at the pit, Kroeker mentioned to Nelson that he could smell differential fluid. Inspection revealed no visible leaks. As the crew was changing the rear tires, Chase Driver John Scripps noticed a small leak in the right axle seal. This could have caused a brake fire, ending the race – or worse. The team jumped into action, disassembled the hub and bearing assembly, revealing that a wooden stick had punctured the seal, a one-in-a-million chance.
“In all my years of racing, I’ve never seen a failure like this,” said Josh Nelson, “I couldn’t duplicate this if I was trying to put a stick in there by hand. It cost us about an hour to fix, but it could have ended our race if we hadn’t addressed it.”
During the pit, KORE team members went to work. Chase driver Tim Gatto repaired wires that had been damaged by cactus, disabling the driving lights, James Lamb repaired the GPS, and Ian Kelbly helped remove the hubs and drive plate.
Darren Skilton and Josh Nelson then got into the race Minotaur™ and drove off into the night, immediately tackling the most difficult section of the race – the silt beds prior to El Crucero. Darren had spent a week of prerunning to find the correct lines through the deep silt that claimed the race of many competitors. A remote pit staffed by KORE team members Nick Baroldi and Josh Schoenfeld pre-staged in the danger zone with extra fuel and tow equipment, but they may not have been able to help.
“It was like a graveyard in there,” said Skilton. “Stuck vehicles littered the course everywhere. Having almost 1000 horsepower to pull you through certainly helps, but one wrong decision and we would have been in there all night.”
Driving and navigating flawlessly, Skilton and Nelson never got out of the truck during their entire section of the course. The next morning, after 12 hours of punishment, they brought the the first Minotaur™ in history across the finish line of the Baja 1000.
“This was a tremendous Baja 1000. We had some bad luck with the GPS and axle seal causing many hours of penalties and downtime. Nevertheless, beating the winning Class 8 truck by 10 hours and getting 19th in the most competitive class while racing the toughest race in the world is a great accomplishment – and an authentic statement about the DNA of the Minotaur™, the KORE Race Team, and the dedication and commitment of our partners,” said Kroeker.
Meet Kent Kroeker, see the KORE race truck and get an off road ride in the Prefix Minotaur at the Barret Jackson auction next week in Scottsdale, AZ from Jan 23-31. Click here for more information.
KORE Racing (www.koreperformance.com) is comprised of Military, Police, Professional Mechanics, Entrepreneurs and the best volunteers that America has to offer. KORE RACING is proud to be partnered with Prefix Corporation, Arrow Racing Engines, Ole Buhl Racing, Baja Designs Lights, U.S. Optics Rifle Scopes, McRee’s Precision Rifle Stocks, Kelbly’s Precision Rifles, Jamar Brakes, FST Filters, Fox Racing Shocks, BFGoodrich Tires and Barrett-Jackson Auctions.
The Minotaur RAM truck conversion from Prefix Performance was engineered from a Baja Racing heritage, designed from the same DNA found in championship desert race trucks. The Minotaur conversion elevates the RAM off-road truck to a new level of excitement, capability and style.
Click here to find a Minotaur dealer near you.