COBB25 Raptor: Adventures with Baja Raptor Runs

We talked about the COBB25 Raptor build back in January, but we’ve been putting it through its paces since then.

After we finished up with the Eibach install (thanks to their team in So Cal!), we took it straight out to Johnson Valley for the 2024 King of the Hammers.  It was a long weekend full of desert shake out time, and we wanted to make sure we were ready to hit the trails, because we had big plans coming for March – in Baja!

baja raptor run crosses into baja california

With the team from Baja Raptor Runs, our Gen 3 Raptor ran the Baja peninsula from Tecate in Baja California Norte to Bahia de los Angeles in Baja California Sur. The group raced on wide open lakebeds, checked out some Baja-famous locations, saw some whales, and never skipped a stop for tacos.

After 5 days of fun in the dirt, we caught back up with Kirstin, COBB trucks lead, who got to go meet some of our existing COBB fans, make some new ones, and got to personally put the COBB25 machine to work in the desert.  These are her journal entries from the Baja Rayo Run with Baja Raptor Run.

Raptor Run Day 1 – Tecate to San Felipe

The first day we all met up bright and early in a parking lot in Tecate, California.  We met up with the whole group, and learned who all of our new friends would be for the week.  While the trips do focus on Raptors, they’re not limited to just Raptor owners.  On our trip, we had a couple of TRXs and a couple of Broncos (including one Bronco Raptor).

Once the whole group had picked up visas and done the required paperwork, we crossed into Mexico, and the adventure really got going.  Driving in Mexico can be a really…unique experience, but the Baja Raptor Runs team makes sure everyone’s comfortable and safe along the way.

raptor run safety meeting happening in a parking lot

We also got the first taco stop of the trip on this day.  Maybe the best tacos in the entire world.  The rest of the tacos we ate all week got ranked against these – I’m not sure I’m allowed to share Baja Raptor Run’s secret spot, though.

COBB25 raptor racing on a dry lakebed
flowchart for cobb raptor intercooler vs stock
We know from testing back at HQ, that this FMIC maintains 92%+ cooling efficiency all the way to redline (compared to 50% efficiency at redline on the stock intercooler). To get more on the efficiency testing, you can check out all the data here.

After we hit the dirt, the BRR team knew just the spot to have us open up the trucks a bit – on a perfect dry lakebed, in the shadow of Picacho Del Diablo – the tallest peak on the peninsula.  The COBB Raptor took on every race we could, and thanks to the COBB Front Mount Intercooler, the truck stayed perfectly cool through the lashings.

To be clear – I was hot lapping the COBB25 Raptor for much longer than I probably should have, and it barely ticked above ambient temps.  Data from controlled testing is one thing, but this is pretty incredible real-life performance.

Plus, with the COBB Stage 2 Power Package, we’ve got the Accessport, intercooler, and an off-the-shelf pump gas tune, the truck handled almost every other truck out there. Even before tuning for the upgraded intake, the COBB stage 2 kit that we’ve got means we’ve got almost 50 extra horsepower on tap, and over 70 lb-ft of torque to get that heavy truck off the line.

We pulled into our hotel in San Felipe that night and had a minute to clean up before we headed out for another Baja landmark for dinner – the Chenowth Legacy Lodge and Museum.  The history in this place is incredible.  If you’re a fan of off-road racing, you already know the impact that Lynn Chenowth has had on the sport, as an innovator in tube frame racing chassis.  The very first winning single-seat vehicle from the Baja 500 is here, and there are so many other incredible vintage rigs to check out, as well.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, where the Baja Raptor Runs team was helping one of the participants (anonymized to protect the innocent, of course) sort out a pretty major mechanical dilemma.  Their team is committed to leaving no person, or truck, behind – which is one of the real benefits of seeing Mexico with them. The BRR guys have all the tools and mechanical ability to help you out of a sticky situation.  If they can’t (and that’s unlikely), they’ve got a trailer at the ready to help you get back to the border.

COBB25 raptor on a desert trail

Day 2 – San Felipe to Vizcaino

Leaving San Felipe, we had the longest stretches in dirt so far.  We cruised through Ensenada, and got our first good look at the pacific coast line before a stop at the famous Coco’s Corner.  The lore around Coco is worth reading up on – Coco was a staple in Baja, an eccentric (and generally cantankerous) man who the community lost just a couple of years ago in 2022.  While the place he used to call home has mostly been disassembled and destroyed by weather and vandalism, it was an honor to be in a place that has seen so much Baja history.

raptor run lunch break at the beach

After a stop for lunch on the beach, it was back to the trails, where we got to check out some of the Baja 1000 racetrack from this year.  The cactus that grows here is super cool – unique to the area, and it looks like it’s straight out of Dr. Seuss book.

This was an afternoon of fun, fast dirt.  Once we got checked in to our hotel, I made sure to open up the COBB Redline intake and shake out the air filter, but the filter sock seems to really be doing its job – there was hardly any dust or silt, and quick knock cleared up all of it.

gen 3 raptor intake, built from carbon fiber

Day 3 – Vizcaino to San Ignacio

We got up early to get out of the hotel in Vizcaino, because the Baja Raptor Runs team had a unique experience set up for the group.  We happened to be in town right at the perfect time to go meet a bunch of Gray Whales before the left the area to migrate north for the summer.

Heading out to the whale watching launch point, we drove through the largest open-air salt mine in the world, and got to learn more of the history of the partnership (Mitsubishi and the Mexican government).  It’s a mindbogglingly huge operation, and allows for a cut through to some of the wildest slot-car style driving you’ve ever seen.

Thanks to the connection that the Baja Raptor Runs’ team has built in Baja, when it came time for the whale experience, we had our very own marine biologist on the boat, answering all of our questions and importantly – teaching the group how to properly pet a whale so that they didn’t get mad and capsize us all into the depths of the bay.  She was kidding, I think?

You can’t overstate the size of a gray whale, especially from the seat of what’s essentially a rowboat in the open ocean.  Having a professional on-hand also helps to ensure that we’re not negatively impacting the whales – the bay here is a UNESCO-designated whale sanctuary, so keeping the wildlife safe comes before anything else.

taco truck

After the whales, we stopped for, you guessed it – tacos!  This time, they were from a great truck in the Vizcaino business centro – a hole in the wall with two choices: fish or shrimp.  Consensus from the group: you have to try both.

Then it was back to the trails, where finished out a shorter day, landing in San Ignacio for the evening.  We had margaritas at Rice and Beans (yet another must-see Baja establishment), and had dinner on the San Ignacio town square, in the shadow of the Mision San Ignacio Kadakaaman.  If you’re familiar with trips that take you along the trail of missions, this is one of those missions.  It was formed in 1706, and still stands at the center of San Ignacio today.

Also – the mayor of the town is a dog, and he met our group with his entourage of dignitaries.  10/10, would visit these important government officials again.

Day 4 – San Ignacio to Bahia de los Angeles

This was the longest dirt-day of the entire trip, and it took us through some beautiful stretches of desert trails.  As we came through the trails, we’d frequently get a little update from the BRR team on the history of the area – calling out ghost towns, revitalization efforts, and often – learning that the sometimes-abusive trail we were travelling is actually the old highway.

You’d have enough time to think “that must be a mistake,” and then a farmer pulling a trailer full of cattle would be in oncoming traffic.  No really, it’s the old highway.

Dan, a COBB fan for years – he’s got a COBB intake, exhaust, intercooler, and an Accessport tune.

There was a stop for another cultural site – a short, steep hike into a cave full of paintings hundreds of years old.  The BRR team shared some info on the carbon dating that had been done there, and how historians and archaeologists were researching to better understand who had created the paintings, and what significance they might hold.  My favorite of the bunch: they were created by the (probably mythological) race of 12-foot-tall giants that used to inhabit the region.  I want to believe.

raptor run attendees listening to the history of a cave

We stopped for another lunch break on the beach, and did some exploring and bench racing while we took in the sunshine in our last full day in Mexico.  Then it was back to the trails, knocking down major mileage and high speeds while struggled to beat the sunset into the Bay of LA.

There was a quick stop for fuel before checking into the hotel for the night, and it got a little sketchy for some of the other trucks when they realized they’d only be able to get 87 at the pump.  Thankfully, having an Accessport made that a really easy process.  While some of the trucks had to collect octane boosters and exist on prayer until the next fuel stop, the COBB25 Raptor just switched tunes, and kept the party going with no stress (and no check engine lights or limp modes).

If you’re going to Mexico, it’s pretty common to not have access to premium fuels. There’s also a real risk that premium-labeled fuel has degraded from low use before it ever makes it to your tank.  Having a backup plan (that isn’t flammable and taking up space in your truck), is a big win.

The last dinner with the group was at Roca Vela – a great dinner spot with unmatched vibes, and Instagram-worthy décor.  It was a bittersweet dinner, like the last night at camp with all your new friends.  We all called it pretty early, knowing we had a long commute back to the border in the morning.

End of the Baja Raptor Run – Day 5 – Bahia de los Angeles to Mexicali

The 6am call time was dark, foggy, pretty dreary. And then, we popped over a mountain….

desert trail at sunrise

Sunrise over the most incredible cactus forest.  What a way to wrap up this trip – cruising the coast line, and winding through the desert at sunrise.  It’s a wild thought that a few short days ago, I was nervous about driving in Baja.  Being with a qualified and experienced group lead really does make a difference, and I’m ready to go back soon.

Coming back across the border was a straightforward process, and we didn’t have any problems within our group.  The wait in line was there, but it wasn’t too bad.  Once we crossed, we clicked the radio off, waved goodbye to the last of our group as they came through, and headed east.

Some final thoughts, from after the trip:

Thank you again to the COBB team that helped with the final panic-prep before the trip, and got all the last-minute stuff out of the way.  SDHQ helped with the radio install to make sure we were all set for crystal-clear comms on the trail. You might have noticed the bumper upgrades since the original COBB25 launch – all credit there goes to Addictive Desert Designs.  They’re aggressive, they’re functional, and they look great.  Can’t ask for better than that.

Stay tuned for where the COBB25 Raptor is headed next!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *