Subaru returns to the Baja 500 with the 2019 Crosstrek Desert Racer.
Just to be clear, this thing has about as much in common with an actual Subaru Crosstrek as it has with the space shuttle. For starters, the chassis is entirely built around a lightweight tubular frame that has those enormous struts in mind. And that suspension looks more like it was designed to keep a building standing during an earthquake than to smooth out an occasional pothole.
But Subaru calls it the Crosstrek Desert Racer, so that’s what we’ll call it too. Built in collaboration with Crawford Performance and Grabowski Brothers Racing, the Crosstrek Racer is Subaru’s official, factory-supported entry into this year’s Baja 500 endurance rally.
As you can see, Subaru is already getting great mileage out of their reborn blue-and-gold starscape livery that was unveiled earlier this year. It harkens back to Subaru’s proud history of rally racing and its many victories, although last year Subaru finished in second at the Baja 500. This year they plan on improving their performance.
Under the hood (or more like slightly obscured by sheet metal) is a 2.5-L naturally aspirated boxer engine that Subaru says is “lightweight and reliable.” Power is rated at 300 horses even without the benefit of forced induction.
“Subaru is best known for its success in rally, but Subaru engines have been used in off-road buggies for years,” said Quirt Crawford of Crawford Performance. “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!”
The Crosstrek Desert Racer will begin its Baja 500 journey on June 1st, crossing 487.11 miles of the Baja Peninsula. Later this August it will take part in the Vegas to Reno rally before completing the year with the Baja 1000 race in November.