Alexander Rossi’s cheerful disregard for the concept of an off-season will continue next month when he suits up for his second run in the Baja 1000.
Fresh from his debut in the Bathurst 1000 two weeks ago, Rossi will drive a Baja Ridgeline Race Truck as part of the Honda Off-Road Racing Team.
“I am more than excited to get back in this Honda Ridgeline off-road truck for the Baja 1000,” Rossi said. “It’s safe to say I decided last year, within five minutes of testing the Ridgeline for the first time, that I was going to do this again.”
Rossi finished second in Class 7 in his first appearance at the iconic desert race last year, picking up some internet notoriety along the way for a near-miss with a non-competitor vehicle that had strayed onto the course.
The seven-time IndyCar Series race winner will again share driving duties with team owner/driver Jeff Proctor and Baja veteran Pat Dailey. Proctor won his class in the Baja 1000 in both 2015 and 2016 with the Ridgeline, finished second in class in 2017 and 2018, and won the companion SCORE Baja 500 race both in 2016, 2018 and again earlier this year.
“We are stoked to have Alexander back racing with us in Mexico for his sophomore attempt at this iconic off-road race,” Proctor said. “This year’s 52nd annual Baja 1000 course covers all of the toughest terrain and areas in Baja Norte….as always, it will be tough. Alex is one of the brightest motorsports minds I’ve worked with, and he is a great asset to our team.”
Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 produced by HPD, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas’ Los Angeles Design Studio, with inspiration taken from the current Honda Ridgeline, also designed and developed by Honda R&D North Americas.
Making approximately 550 horsepower, HPD’s 3.5-liter HR35TT engine uses the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production V6 engine that powers the all-new Ridgeline. Additional, custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom ECU programming.
Rossi is the sixth Indy 500 winner to take part in the Baja 1000. Other Indy winners who have raced in the SCORE Baja 1000 include Parnelli Jones, a two-time race winner (1971 72); fellow Honda IndyCar Series driver and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay; Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan and Buddy Rice. IndyCar season champions who have raced in the Baja 1000 include Mears, Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy.
“The Honda off-road guys and my co-driver/navigator Evan Weller make it so easy for me to just jump right in and go to work,” Rossi said. “I can’t wait to share the seat with Jeff and Pat once again, and hopefully, bring home a win.”
The Honda Off-Road Racing Team has had an outstanding 2019 season, including class wins for the Baja Ridgeline Race Truck at the Parker 425, the Mint 400 and the Baja 500 – where the team successfully debuted the second-generation “TSCO” chassis – and a second-place Class 7 finish at the Vegas-to-Reno event.
The oldest, most prestigious and longest continuously held desert off-road race, this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 on Nov. 19-24 will be a loop race of 799.1 miles, starting and ending in Ensenada in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The car, truck and UTV classes will start at 10:30 a.m. PT on Friday, Nov. 22, with the first finishers expected to complete the race in approximately 13 hours.