Let us take you back into racing history some 41 years. It's 1969, and the Mexican 1000 race has just ended and the overall race winner is a Bronco built by Bill Stroppe and Associates from Long Beach, California.
Now, zip forward 41 years to today and look at this vintage race Bronco that just completed the 2010 NORRA Mexican 1000 race. Both Broncos are one and the same, as a classic racer comes back to life after being absent from the course for 35 years.
The '68 Bronco started life as an engineering truck at Ford Motor Company. It was later turned over to the Bill Stroppe crew, who modified and race prepped it for its debut in the 1969 race. Larry Minor and Rod Hall drove it to the overall win that year, making it the only 4WD vehicle to ever grab the title for fastest completion of the race. It continued to be raced for a number of years, including a stint with Hall and Jim Fricker from 1972 to 1975.
After that, the history of this Bronco turns a little fuzzy for about 15 years or so. The truck is known to have popped up in the Boulder City, Nevada, area in the early '90s, but was mostly in pieces at that point. Over the next few years, it would change hands a few times until a Bronco enthusiast in Phoenix acquired it and built it up for play in the Glamis sand dunes in southeastern California.
Fast forward to 2008. This is when Bronco fanatics Andrew Norton and Todd Zuercher heard whisperings there might be a classic treasure for sale locally. The rumors proved to be true and the two race fans soon had a dusty piece of history on its way to Todd's house in a toyhauler. Along with the Bronco, they acquired a number of boxes filled with original parts for the truck.
They set about piecing it back together to restore it to nearly its configuration from the early 1970s. Andrew and Todd had already compiled a lot of original magazine articles on the Bronco along with personal accounts about the truck from those who were close to the race action back in its heyday. The rebuild was approached methodically, checking the parts against many vintage photos to try to accurately capture the originality of the truck as it stood nearly four decades ago.
When the rebuild was complete in the spring of 2010, the Bronco rose to the race occasion one more time, piloted by Glen Straightiff and Chris Wilson. After completing 1,107 miles down the Baja Peninsula, they crossed the finish line in La Paz, Mexico to finish in first place in Production Class 5C in the NORRA Mexican 1000. To add to the nostalgia of the race, the pair completed the course in open face helmets, using no GPS receiver or race radios.
Most of the credit for the rebuild goes to Glen and Chris who labored many hours to bring this Bronco back to life. At race time, excellent prep work paid off for the team, with the only real malady being a failed fuel pump problem during the first day of racing. The truck saw speeds up to 105 mph and ran reliably to once again tackle the challenge of the peninsula.
It's fun to see a race truck win again after straying from desert competition for so many years. We always love to hear success stories about vehicle buildups and the challenges the final build overcomes. We figured you'd enjoy it too!