Righteous Red: Steve Lewis’ Bronco Prerunner

The 1991 Ford Bronco is a beast of a vehicle. While Ford is bringing the Bronco back in 2021, it is one of the most-utilized prerunners in off-road racing. The Bronco was Ford’s first SUV, and it was quite unique. Its bulky cab in the mid-1960s made it stand out, but its fourth generation, which kicked off in 1987, really became a hit. The reshaped Bronco just looked awesome. It didn’t seem like another SUV, and it appealed to off-road racers.

Steve Lewis, who is the team manager of Vildosola Racing, took his 1991 Bronco and completely revitalized it for the recent Toyo Treadpass event in Los Angeles. Lewis, who has raced off-road vehicles since 1998, has “always had a knack for mechanical things.” But there might not have been any challenge greater than redesigning his Bronco into a prerunner. This particular SUV is specifically designed to race with the look and feel of the street version of the vehicle.

Lewis has worked with Vildosola Racing for about 15 years, previously volunteering with the team owned by his now father-in-law, Gus Vildosola. The goal in refurbishing this vehicle was for the team to have a spare prerunner, as well as a chase vehicle for the race they enter in. To that end, it’s been stretched and features a roll cage for extra protection. It will likely be used in the SCORE International division, plus the Best In The Desert Racing Association (BITD), designing it to be as light as possible.

King coilovers and bypasses, 39-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts, and Ocho Fabrication twin-traction beam suspension are some highlights of this Bronco build.

“I bought it in November of last year,” Lewis said. “It was just a cage and a Bronco cabin. Victor Dok of Dok-Tech Motorsports took it to his shop and basically made it a roller. He took care of the wheels, tires, engine, transmission, transfer case, and so on.”

“Then, we brought it to our shop and my manager, another employee, and myself, we did the wiring. We wired up the A/C, GPS, radios, and more. We also plumbed it. The goal was it had to be done within a year of purchase, so we took it out for its first run just recently.”

Lewis inserted a turnkey LS3 engine into the Bronco, as well as a four-speed Cole Haines 4L80 transmission. To make the rearend of the Bronco stronger, he used a Currie 10-inch full-floater, giving it some more strength compared to the nine-inch version. The Bronco also includes King shocks, and its suspension was tuned by Sameday Tuning.

“Right out of the box, it was excellent,” said Lewis. “I passed through whoops at 121 miles an hour.”

The rear wing of the Bronco was created by Alloy Studios, boasting carbon fiber. And the crossover steering was designed by Desolate Motorsports. Alloy also made the fuel cell, which holds up to 60 gallons. “All told, I think it was finished for under $150,ooo,” Lewis said. “Not bad for a fully built prerunner.”

Lewis plans on revealing his next Ford Bronco Prerunner, a non-stretched 4×4, next November. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for that upcoming build!

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