As a kid, growing up in the 90’s, I was mesmerized by off-road racing and the legend of Ivan “Ironman” Stewart. Stewart, driving under the Toyota banner, racked up an impressive seven Baja 500 and two Baja 1000 Unlimited Class wins between 1991 and 1999. In addition to dominating the Baja races, Ivan won a host of High Desert Racing Association, SCORE, and Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group stadium races for a total of 37 wins and six Trophy Truck Driver’s Champion titles.
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It has been 17 years since Ivan secured a first-place finish for Toyota in the Baja 500, and 18 years since his last Baja 1000 victory. In fact, it has been XX years sinceit was 2000 when Toyota even last participated in SCORE races with an Unlimited Class entry. Toyota has instead chosen to wander the desert, focusing the last few years on the Stock Full Class with the team’s Lexus LX 570 (2009-2013) and Toyota TRD Pro Tundra (2014 to present).
That all changed on May 7 when Toyota announced they had signed a multi-year sponsorship with “Ballistic” BJ Baldwin. “BJ’s successful racing record, his adventurous attitude, and his ceaseless dedication to honing himself and his craft speaks volumes to Toyota’s core ‘Let’s Go Places’ and kaizen philosophies,” said Cooper Ericksen, Toyota vice president of , vehicle marketing and communications. “We look forward to having BJ and his Tundra involved in this next chapter of Toyota’s desert racing story that so far includes 11 Baja 500 and two Baja 1000 wins.”
Only one other driver, Larry Ragland, has won back to back first-places finishes in the Baja 1000 under the Ironman Spec, completing the grueling race as the single driver. BJ has a proven track record of winning but are his credentials enough to get Toyota to the promised land, a first-place finish? Toyota thinks so, investing heavily in Baldwin’s new flagship race truck, a new Tundra TRD Pro based Trophy Truck. The truck, built by ID Designs, is powered by a custom engine built by Kroyer Racing Engines specifically for this Trophy Truck applicationfeatures 26" of front and 30" of rear travel and a top speed of 145mph.
Not only is Toyota banking on BJ’s driving record, but they hope to tap into his media influence. BJ’s brings an added boost of energy to the Toyota team, which already supports drivers in the Lucas Oil Off Road Race Series, NASCAR circuits, and NHRA Top Fuel/Funny Car series. He has starred in Monster Energy’s #RECOIL series of videos, with the first two in the series racking up a combined total views of nearly 24 million.
His broader appeal as a driver reaches beyond the truck racing scene. Toyota chose to make the announcement at the Monster Energy AMA Supercross FIM World Championship for a reason. The event, co-sponsored by Toyota, saw in excess of 36-thousand fans braving rain and hail to watch the races. Most of these fans showed up in pickup trucks and countless stood in line to have their photo taken with BJ and Ivan. Toyota wants to leverage BJ’s name recognition in the market to help bolster sales of their Tundra and Tacoma platforms in a heavily saturated market.
BJ Baldwin’s Trophy Truck Specs:
- Year built: 2016
- Chassis: ID DESIGNS
- Wheelbase: 124"
- Weight: 6100LBS
- Engine: V8 built by Kroyer Racing Engines
- Front Suspension: Twin A-Arm
- Front Travel: 26"
- Rear Suspension: Triangulated 4-link
- Rear Travel: 30"
- Tires: 39X13.50X17
- Steering: Sawgnall Steering Box
- Brakes: Alcon 6 piston
- Trans: Albins Sequential ST6
- Top Speed: 145 MPH
- Wheels: 17-in Method Race Wheels
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