Behind the Scenes with Vintage Bronco Dominating the Mexican Desert

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1968 Ford Bronco

FTE chats with Devil Horse Motorsports, who prove that you can teach an old Bronco new tricks, and they have the trophies to show for it.

Some people choose to do things the easy way. Others, the hard way. In the case of Devil Horse Motorsports and their efforts in the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA), the latter certainly applies. Team owners and drivers Boyd Jaynes and Brian Godfrey have spent the last decade dominating the deserts of Mexico. Not in some newfangled high-tech ride, but in a 1968 Ford Bronco.

Sharing duties in their Bronco, affectionately known as “Caballo Del Diablo” (Horse of the Devil), the duo have racked up some seriously impressive statistics. In ten consecutive Mexican 1000 entries, they’ve notched 7 class wins, including this year, making it five in a row. This year, they also recorded their 4th consecutive Pioneer era “Steve McQueen” trophy recipient, awarded to the oldest, fastest vehicle.

1968 Ford Bronco

That’s good enough to give Devil Horse Motorsports the best record of any team in modern NORRA history, in fact. And all this was done in a 51-year-old vehicle, with a 351 Cleveland V8 (and now a 347-cube stroker). Using pump gas. And this year, they had only one set of tires for the entire 1,300-mile race.

Now that the dust has settled and the high of winning has calmed down a bit, we sat down with Jaynes to get the inside scoop on the dynamic duo’s mariachi-themed firesuits, extravagant mustaches, and 13,000 miles of desert racing success.

1968 Ford Bronco

Ford Truck Enthusiasts: First of all, why did you guys choose to go racing in an old Ford Bronco instead of something a bit more modern?

Boyd Jaynes: Not that a modern desert racer isn’t cool. It’s just that they are a bit ordinary in comparison to a vintage Bronco.

Do you think that the Bronco’s inherent simplicity can be attributed with at least part of your team’s racing success?

Boyd Jaynes: Our day jobs are photographer and marketing executive, so we aren’t all that mechanically adept. Having a vehicle that is straightforward in its design is helpful for us to wrap our heads around when maintaining and repairing it. The Bronco’s uncomplicated design also has a lot to do with how functional it is off road, it just works. The platform is as capable today as it was fifty plus years ago.

Devil Horse Motorsports Ford Bronco

We know that your old 351 had logged lots of hard miles and needed to be replaced. But what led you to choose a 347-cube stroker?

Boyd Jaynes: One of the best details about the Ford Performance X2347 crate motor is that it is based on the 302, which was original to the Bronco, but with a modern spin and more power. We like that it is carbureted (more period correct), but most of all the engine comes direct from Detroit dressed out with carb and distributor already tuned and hot tested. It dropped right in and all we had to do was add our accessories and a nice set of James Duff headers. The performance gains were unbelievable, it’s a whole different horse now.

Devil Horse Motorsports Ford Bronco

Of all the off-road races out there in the world, what attracted you to NORRA and the Mexican 1000 in particular?

Boyd Jaynes: NORRA was the genesis of off-road racing in Baja, and the natural home for vintage vehicles to be resurrected and run again. The multi-day rally format is a perfect “fun” atmosphere for a group of guys to come down and try their luck with an old truck and see some breathtaking scenery along the way. It’s particularly satisfying to look back and realize that you’ve just traversed the entire Baja peninsula in an antique truck.

What sorts of unique challenges does the Mexican desert hold that differentiate it from the rest?

Boyd Jaynes: The lack of access to many of the areas we are racing in make it challenging as you don’t want to break down out there. Your chase crew could take a half a day to get in to help you, and never mind getting you back out. The terrain is constantly changing with every mile moved south and every 100 feet of elevation. Your eyes need to constantly be evaluating the road ahead against the speed you are going. The Baja desert is a beautiful but unforgiving environment…like a cactus, it will break the skin if you come into contact the wrong way.

Devil Horse Motorsports Ford Bronco

Aside from your successful racing efforts and choice of vehicle, we’re obviously loving your mariachi-themed outfits. What was your inspiration behind this extra bit of flair?

Boyd Jaynes: Honestly, I got the idea from the 2014 Mexican Olympic ski team. They had mariachi-themed race suits, too.

Now that you’ve got a brand new engine, do you have any other plans for modifications ahead of the next racing season?

Boyd Jaynes: We’re thinking of adding a t-shirt cannon for the kids that line the roads in remote villages….

You can follow along with the exploits of Jaynes, Godfrey, and their awesome Bronco on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos: Boyd Jaynes Photography

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Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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