Not all heavy duty pickups are used for towing and hauling. Some get to live the racing life. Chrysler's Mopar Performance division has teamed up with off-road suspension component manufacturer Kroeker Off Road Engineering (aka KORE) to unveil the new Baja Stock Class 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 at SEMA.
The three-quarter-ton Ram 2500 has been hardened to compete in the annual Baja 1000 race, down Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, from Ensenada to La Paz.
In the Baja Stock Class, trucks are required to maintain near-production form. The sheetmetal and frame can’t be changed but engine and suspension components can be modified as long as the mods are based on original factory designs. It's kind of like NASCAR used to be back in the seventies and eighties, before all the rules and regulations turned the cars into the plastic bodied cartoons racing today. For amateur Baja racers, without big racing budgets, the Stock Class helps level the playing field against better-funded, factory-backed professional drivers and teams.
What makes KORE such a good partner for Mopar is that KORE's founder, Kent Kroeker, became famous for taking third place in the 2004 Baja 1000 driving a near factory condition 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9-liter Cummins-powered diesel pickup in the Stock Class. Kroeker did it using self-built suspension components and a few other minor tweaks to the truck.
John Clark, from Mopar Performance, says, "Our thing at Mopar is authentic grassroots motorsports, and nothing represents that more than the Stock Classes in Baja. Now we’ve teamed with KORE to lend them engineering assistance and underhood performance parts, like wiring harnesses, a third-generation HEMI engine controller and stock replacement driveline parts."
Of course, the Stock Class Ram is fully outfitted with KORE’s suspension bits too. Its first racing appearance will be in November.
But the Stock Class Ram is only half the story in Dodge’s off-road motorsports initiative. Mopar Performance also took the sheet of its Baja 1000 Trophy Truck. It's Mr. Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll Stock Class Ram 2500.
Trophy Trucks are the Baja 1000's unlimited class. They're equipped with rear-mounted 800-horsepower engines, 39-inch tires, and massive custom-engineered suspensions built to fly over the Baja's brutal dirt trails. The bodies only resemble stock trucks in the shape of their headlight and grille decals – assuming the teams decide to add those stickers to the plastic molded bodies.