Wild Horses: Inside the 2021 Ford Bronco 4400 Race Team
With the all-new Ford Bronco platform rolling out in 2021, Ford is doing a serious deep dive into the off-road world. While we fully expect the aftermarket to embrace the new Bronco two- and four-door SUVs later this year, Ford Performance is starting 2021 off strong with Bronco 4400 race vehicles. The unveil of the off-road race team happened just a few days before the race flag dropped at the 2021 Ultra4 Racing King of the Hammers event. While each one of the custom Bronco 4400 vehicles has its own unique identity, all of the Ford-powered machines have the same bold-styling cues from the 2021 Ford Bronco platform.
When it came to driving talent, Ford backed some of the top racers in the history of Ultra4 Racing. With multiple off-road racing championships and KOH wins under their belts, the all-star team of Loren Healy, Jason Scherer, and Vaughn Gittin Jr. all have earned their place in the off-road history books. In addition to battling in the 4400 class this year, it’s also worth mentioning that long-time Ford racer Vaughn Gittin Jr. will spend 2021 defending his Formula Drift Championship title. We’re excited to see Ford going all-in for Ultra4 Racing and can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the new Bronco platform very soon.
Starting from left to right, you have 3x World Drift and 2020 Formula Drift champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. In the middle, is 3x KOH winner Jason Scherer. On the right is 2x KOH winner and past Ultra4 Series Championship winner Loren Healy. While all three will be running the Bronco 4400 race vehicles this season, Healy and VGJ will also be getting behind the wheel of the 4600 class Ford Bronco as well.
Body By Bronco
The 4400 class of Ultra4 Racing is fully unlimited. This means you rarely see any production-based looking vehicles in the race field. The Bronco 4400 cars are changing that in a big way. While each racer sports their own livery for the car, the two-door resemblance to the 2021 Ford Bronco is most certainly unmistakable.
The last iteration of the Ford Bronco sported a Twin Traction Beam front end and solid-axle rear. The 2021 Bronco on the other hand has a more modern independent front suspension and multilink rear suspension holding the live rear axle in place. All of the Bronco 4400 cars are built with long-travel independent front suspensions and solid-axle rears. This IFS/solid-axle rear combo has proven extremely effective off-road, especially in high-speed desert sections of the race.
Each one of the Ford Performance 4400 Broncos is using a Ford-based engine. Healy’s is a 460ci D3 Ford Windsor-based small-block that’s built by Jeff Ginter Racing Engines, while his Fun Haver teammate VGJ is using a 427 Ford Performance engine. Scherer is also using a Ford Windsor based engine, which was built by Dougans Racing Engines.
One of the biggest surprises to come out of Hammers was the official race debut of the new 42-inch-tall Nitto Trail Grappler. Healy’s car was the only one of the 4400 Broncos to run the larger 42-inch-tall treads on race day with his Fun Haver teammate VGJ opting to remain on 40x13.50 Nitto Trail Grapplers. The 42-inch Grappler is an exciting addition to Nitto Tire lineup and something we expect to see more of in both the racing and recreational side of the hobby.
Gittin It Done
While Vaughn Gittin Jr. is one of the most accomplished drift car racers on the planet, his move over to off-road racing has been equally impressive. A long-time Ford racer, VGJ’s first purpose-built Ultra4 Car was actually a Bronco based platform as well. Though the rig he calls Brocky serves as the base for his new Bronco 4400, his car and Scherer’s are the only ones setup to have a co-driver. This can be especially helpful in the technical rock sections of the Hammer trails where having eyes outside of the car can prevent you from making a big mistake.
It’s known as the most grueling one-day race in the world. Just finishing King of the Hammers is a serious accomplishment. Not only did all three of the 4400 Bronco cars finish, but they all placed extremely high in the pack with VGJ nabbing 5th, Scherer getting 10th, and Healy taking home 13th. An impressive first showing for the Ford team for sure.
With King of the Hammers behind them, the Ford team is now looking towards Moab, Utah, for their next Ultra4 Race. To find the full racing schedule, visit Ultra4Racing.com.
More From Driving Line
- Find out more about the 2021 King of the Hammers race.