It ain't your typical Costco-bound crossover.
Yes, this is really a Subaru Crosstrek, although we fully admit it doesn’t look much like the one sitting at your local Subie dealer. No, this one is seriously modified for one very specific purpose: off-road racing. Presenting the Baja 500-bound Subaru Crosstrek Desert Racer. The automaker has just announced it has renewed its partnership with Crawford Performance and Grabowski Brothers Racing. This Class 5 Unlimited off-road buggy (as described by Subaru) comes powered with the familiar Boxer engine and debuts a new livery in the famous blue and gold competition colors of Subaru Motorsports.
Last year, Subaru’s entry came in a respectable second-place in its class at the 550-mile Vegas to Reno Race. Subaru has been competing in factory-supported desert racing since 2017 and it’s pretty impressive it scored a second-place finish in only its second competition year.
The Baja 500 itself is a grueling 487.11-mile race in a single loop on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Although the engine is a 2.5-liter Boxer four, it’s actually a non-turbocharged unit built by Quirt Crawford of Crawford Performance and produces 300 hp. Cutting out the turbos help to reduce weight and improve reliability.
"Subaru is best known for its success in rally, but Subaru engines have been used in off-road buggies for years,” said Crawford. "My goal with the Crosstrek Desert Racer program was to show what was possible with a non-turbocharged boxer engine in an unlimited class, and the results so far have been very strong. I’m looking forward to bringing the car back to Baja this year and showing what it can do!”
Subaru is keen to continue with its off-road racing program because it wants to expand beyond rally and rallycross. We have no complaints about that. "The Crosstrek Desert Racer’s results over the past two seasons speak for themselves,” said William Stokes, Motorsports Manager for Subaru of America. "We’re proud to renew our support for Crawford Performance and Grabowski Brothers Racing, and bring our iconic blue and gold motorsports colors to the off-road racing world.”
The Baja 500 kicks off this Saturday, June 1. Grabowski Brothers Racing will next compete the Crosstrek Desert Racer at August’s Vegas to Reno event before taking part in the ultimate off-road race in November: the Baja 1,000.