The Mexican Baja 500 race is so named because the endurance race is just over a 500-mile long loop, starting and ending in Ensenada on the Pacific coast. The off-road race attracts some rather off-road desert-specific vehicles as you might imagine, and the Subaru Crosstrek Desert Racer is such a vehicle.
The Subaru Crosstrek is a collaboration between Subaru Motorsports USA, driving cousins Dustin and Parker Grabowski, AKA Grabowski Brothers Racing, and Crawford Performance. You would expect that with this sort of pedigree the Crosstrek would be something to behold, and it is very much that. Running the classic Subaru blue and gold rally livery famously used on the company’s Impreza, the Crosstrek runs a 300bhp 2.5-litre (non-turbo-charged) Boxer engine built by Crawford Performance – all powering a very lightweight vehicle. Quirt Crawford has said that he is looking to show the world what a naturally aspirated flat-4 Boxer engine is capable of in the unlimited class of this gruelling Baja 500 desert race.
Subaru Motorsports USA is looking to go one better than last year’s second place, and if looks alone are anything to go by, they’ve already won. The blue and gold livery is an indication of how Subaru is continuing to recognise and expand its racing programme into other areas – the blue and gold pulls everything together seamlessly. We have already been shown the colours on the STI rally car at the Detroit Motor Show earlier this year.
Dustin and Parker Grabowski have both been racing since the ages of 12, with a wealth of experience, including Pro Lite, TrophyKart, go kart racing and UTV’s. Crawford Performance on the other hand, is also keen to point out that it is perfectly happy as a company to upgrade your very own vehicle, offering better oil consumption and improved engine life, whether you are a racer or not – very down to earth.
Subaru debuted the Crosstrek Desert Racer in the Baja 500 in 2017, before picking up a prize for second place the following year. That same year of 2018, the Crosstrek also picked up a first place in the Class 5 Unlimited of the Las Vegas to Reno – which at 550-miles, is the longest off-road race in the USA.
The Subaru Crosstrek Desert Racer looks like a cross between a classic beach buggy and something from the film, Transformers; that mass of suspension looks set to rear up at any moment. It’s safe to say that Subaru Motorsports USA, Grabowski Brothers Racing and Crawford Performance are quietly confident heading into the Baja 500. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on.