SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - May 2019

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 47 of 92

The BFG Blazer One of The Iconic Off-Road Racing Vehicles In SCORE Baja Racing History By Dan Sanchez Photos by: Boyd Jaynes In the mid-seventies, when motorcycles and buggies were the dominant winning vehicles in SCORE Baja 500 and SCORE Baja 1000 races, auto manufacturers such as Chevrolet and Ford were looking for ways to win with their own vehicles. Ford had success with the Bronco, which ultimately led to the creation of the Big Oly Bronco that Parnelli Jones drove. It was the first time that a vehicle was purposely built for Baja racing which only resembled the original factory vehicle and had full-race components. This idea led Chevrolet to approach Jones in 1976, to help them build a Baja race vehicle based on the full-size Blazer. Jones took on the project with Dick Russell who built Big Oly, and was an early Indy Car pioneer who also worked with A.J. Foyt, the Unser family, and many other over his long career. The two built the Chevy Blazer as a full-race, purpose-built vehicle designed to withstand the rigors of Baja racing. They outfitted it with a full tube-frame chassis, a high horsepower Chevrolet small-block 350 CID engine, and a custom independent front suspension system. It even had a large wing for the roof, similar to Big Oly, and utilized lightweight fiberglass panels. One of the Blazer’s biggest advantages was the use of some new off-road tires that came into the market, the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A radial tires. Back then, BFGoodrich Tires was new to Baja racing and designed the tires though extensive testing with Frank “Scoop” Vessels on his Ford F-100 race vehicles prior to their official debut. From its official Baja racing inauguration on the Blazer, BFGoodrich Tires would go on to have a 43-year relationship which still continues with SCORE International racing and become the most winningest tire in Baja racing history. Jones and Russell also outfitted the Blazer with custom A-arms and heavy-duty hubs manufactured by Summers Brothers. A set of Gabriel shocks were used with a six-link suspension system in the rear that included a Jacob's Ladder, an axle centering link commonly used in Sprint Cars. The entire suspension system gave the Blazer eight inches of wheel travel in front, with 10-inches at the rear. Once the vehicle was complete, Chevrolet and sponsor BFGoodrich Tires went back to Vessels to drive the Blazer in the late 1970s and won the 1980 SCORE Baja 1000 in Class 2. The Blazer was also driven by Bob Gordon and Don Adams to many victories from which Adams kept and stored the Blazer until it was purchased by racing veteran Cam Thierot in 2012 and restored by Sean Hoglund in 2013. Specifications Frank “Scoop” Vessels BFG Blazer Chassis: Custom Tube Full-Frame Body: 1978 Chevrolet Blazer Fiberglass Panels Front Suspension: Custom A-arm IFS, 8-inch wheel travel Rear Suspension: Six-Link w/Jacobs Ladder, 10-inch wheel travel Brakes: F&R Lockheed four-piston calipers, 11.75-inch rotors Shocks: Bilstein 5125 Wheels: American Racing Tires: BFGoodrich Tires All-Terrain T/A Radials Engine: T.O.E. Performance Chevy 350 CID Transmission: Art Carr Turbo 400 Automatic

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