We had the chance to head out to the Rally Ready Ranch in Dale, Texas for the second RaptorX which ran January 20-22. This is one unique event not only was it a timed Raptor race, but it was also an opportunity to see the all-new 2017 Ford Raptor get put through its paces by some of the most hardcore customers Ford has.
The Raptor was a big gamble for Ford in 2009. With an economy deep in recession and automakers feeling the pinch, the Raptor was a truck that Ford didn’t have to build. Luckily for all of us, they did. The truck had 35-inch BF Goodrich tires, an electronic locking differential, and a big 6.2-liter motor, just to name a some of the unique features of this truck.
Fast forward to today, and the second generation Ford Raptor has just been released with a specially tuned six-cylinder twin-turbo powerplant, 10-speed automatic transmission, and upgraded three-inch Fox Racing shocks. The choice to go with the new EcoBoost motor had many previous generation owners scratching their heads.
This event was an opportunity for them, and us, to get some up-close-and-personal time with the capabilities of the new Raptor while also having a blast flogging the first-generation one trucks, prerunners, and highly modified custom rigs. Making things even more interesting was the weather for this particular event.
Hitting The Dirt
RaptorX is only one of several events throughout the year put on by Trey Palreiro, owner of Texas Raptor Runs (TRR). Almost every time a TRR event is planned, there just happens to be some rain in the forecast. Trey reports, “It seems like every other event has a weather issue. Our staff is great though, and we always work through it and put on a good event.”
The amount of rain received prior to this particular event was exceptional. This led to a wet track with plenty of sloppy Texas mud for participants to contend with. The fact that RaptorX is timed also made for some interesting circumstances, as all participants raced against the clock in muddy conditions for the fastest overall lap time.
In order to record track times and keep things accurate during laps, organizers used a transponder and timing loop system. However, with weather and track conditions making it necessary to close some track areas during the race, of two separate groups were created.
Group A ran a 1.25-mile track, which was cut down from the original 3.1-mile track planned before the race began. Once conditions became too difficult, resulting in multiple trucks getting stuck in the mud, part of that was cut as well.
That left Group B, which ran a more condensed version of the track. This versatility and improvisation were a great example of how TRR remains one of the premier organizers of Ford Raptor events. Stock, modified, and unlimited classes were available (as well as practice) laps to get to know the course prior to timed laps being initiated.
Overall, 30 of the 40 registered participants braved the conditions, including three brand new 2017 Raptors. While some registered participants chose not to run the timed laps due to track and weather conditions, not a single participant took Palreiro up on an offer to complete a refund for the event. In fact, several individuals went so far as to speak up on social media and, at the awards ceremony, to commend the TRR and Rally Ready staff on their efforts to maintain the track during exceptionally difficult conditions.
The Rally Ready Ranch in Dale, Texas sits on 140 acres and is run by Dave Carapetyan. Not only is the Rally Ready Ranch a first-class facility for education and training related to performance driving, but it also features one-on-one instructional classes and hosts some pretty awesome events like RaptorX.
Dave and his crew were top notch during the event and shared that, “It is exceptionally rewarding to spend months working on a track layout and watching guys come in lap after lap with huge grins on their faces. We look forward to having everyone back soon for testing, time trials, and Trophy Cart Racing!”
This event truly reminded us not only of all the fun that can be had at a competitive off-road event, but also what a joy it is to be a part of this community. Attendees spent time with participants camping in tents, enjoyed the luxuries of campers or hotels, or even hung out with the resident ranch dog, Mondo.
The positive attitudes and willingness to get dirty and help one another fix race day carnage was a pleasure. Event participant and two-time winner of the stock class, Kenner Coon, stated: “The TRR group is like one big family. Everyone helps each other, and they are all-around great people. It’s kind of like hunting and fishing; only half the fun is the actual shooting and catching, and the rest is the camaraderie among friends.”
Triumph For Both Generations
In the midst of all of these challenges, both the first generation and the latest generation of the Ford Raptor performed brilliantly. Generation 2 Raptor owner and overall fastest lap time (minus penalties for hitting cones at the end of his run) finisher Seth Boutin noted, “The truck performed phenomenally! It was smooth, quick and powerful. The weight reduction difference over the first-gen was noticeable, and the increased travel and three-inch shocks made a big difference.”
Generation 1 Raptor owner and Modified class first place finisher, Tim Jackson, was thrilled. “My truck performed flawlessly,” he said. “The only thing I broke was a torn CV boot and a guide clip for the rear brake pads. I truly enjoyed the entire four-mile track that was laid out. Trey and the TRR crew made the necessary adjustments to ensure we all enjoyed ourselves without endangering the truck or driver and the final track, while short, was fast-paced and truly exciting.” When asked if he would return, Jackson’s response was an absolute yes, adding: “Being the defending champ this year makes me want to go even bigger and badder next year!”
As with all TRR events, not only is there an opportunity for some good old-fashioned fun, but that fun also benefits others. For this event representatives from the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF) were on hand selling T-shirts and raffling items like mugs and a Yeti cooler to benefit service members and veterans in need.
MWSF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, founded in 2007 and with a mission is to provide support for our nation’s combat wounded heroes and Gold Star Families as they transition out of the military and into their new civilian life. Their programs include home donation, academic and employment assistance, and recreational activities.
TRR hit a home run with this event. If you are interested in more information about upcoming events, or want to learn more about the services offered by the Rally Ready Ranch, be sure to check out their website.