The Subaru Crosstrek Desert Racer earned its first-ever class win at the 2019 Baja 500 off-road race, pushing through difficult conditions to dominate Class 5. The father/son team of Neal and Dusty Grabowski persevered through an especially tough Baja course that ensnared even some of the fastest competitors; with its victory at the legendary Baja race and last year’s win at the 2018 Vegas to Reno, the Crawford Performance/Grabowski Brothers Racing (GBR) program has now secured Class 5 victories at two of the four major U.S./Mexico desert racing events in less than 12 months.
Desert racing is known for being hard on vehicles, and this year’s Baja 500 was no exception. The area near the start and finish of the event featured several silt beds which slowed the early vehicles and led to backups and delays further down the field. Driver Neal Grabowski pushed hard after clearing the start area. By the midway point of the 487-mile event, son Dusty had moved into the driver’s seat and the team had built a substantial gap over the other Class 5 teams. The remainder of the event was not without drama – following a competitor’s tire tracks a mere 15 miles from the finish, the Desert Racer team ended up taking a wrong turn and had to extract themselves from a ravine – but they were able to cross the finish line first in class after sixteen hours of racing.
“Winning at Baja is a dream for anyone who races in the desert,” said Dusty Grabowski. “This was a tough one – the conditions were a major challenge.”
Paired with Subaru Motorsports USA’s 1-2 overall finish at Oregon Trail Rally, the Baja class win also completed a double victory for the Subaru factory racing effort in a single weekend. The Subaru team will look to build on that success at the season kickoff of the Americas Rallycross (ARX) championship at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, June 8- 9.