I've been exploring with 4x4 vehicles for over 20 years. My wheeling experience began on the backroads in northern Michigan and includes everything from mud to rocks, sand, and hard-core crawling.
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.
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:
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The event that helped start our original FJC Magazine - FJ Summit - happens this week, for the 10th time!
The Toyota Cruisers & Trucks team has been preparing for the event for quite some time, so we thought a little preview of what's going down this year may be useful.
It's time for your Toyota Fix!
We're excited to publish the Spring 2016 Issue of Toyota Cruisers & Trucks!!
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We've just learned that Toyota has signed a multi-year deal with Ballistic BJ Baldwin! The team will be racing a TRD Pro Tundra Trophy Truck in both the SCORE International and Best in the Desert (BITD) series.
When we built the TCT Explorer Tundra last year, part of our goal was to create an amazing truck with a 'TRD Pro' look. Judging by the fact that most people think ours is a TRD Pro, I think we've succeeded.
In this sponsored video, Stephen Elmer from AutoGuide.com takes a stock Limited Tundra, adds all the appropriate TRD Pro parts, and compares it to an Inferno TRD Pro Tundra.
With a long successful history in the mud-terrain tire market, Cooper has finally found an adequate replacement for their renowned Discoverer STT. After years of R&D, Cooper released their newest mud-terrain option, the Discoverer STT Pro. Cooper takes great pride in the STT Pro and they have every right to.
I've loved the 4x4 and off-road industry for as long as I can remember. After running this magazine for almost 10 years though, I've realized something. With little exceptions, none of us gets to explore as often as we'd like.
The desire to get on dirt, explore new places, and find adventure around every corner is not something that's easy to quench. Luckily, I've finally found an outlet that allows me to play...with a toy...and quench that thirst, for just a little while.
Overlanding through Utah’s backcountry should be on everyone’s bucket list. Utah’s overlanding routes enable the traveler to experience the land like no other. Not only does “ eye candy”—spires, towers, canyons, mesas, etc.—surround the traveler; but the many dirt roads lead to some of the best adventures in North America. One can canyoneer down a slot, mountain bike an epic singletrack, or hike in a desert oasis stream. It’s all available...in Utah. My friends, Dave, Barb, and Sam, joined me on this 12-day overland adventure into the wilds of southern Utah.
You read about the all new 2017 TRD Pro Tacoma back in February when Toyota announced it. As it turns out, Ryan Millen, Andy Bell, and a team from Overland International took the truck to the Arctic Circle (and beyond). Then they made a film.