Walker Evans’ Baja 1000 Winning 1978 Dodge Ram Pickup

This 1978 Dodge Ram race truck driven by Walker Evans is immediately recognizable to off-road racing fans. With co-driver Bruce Florio, Walker Evans drove his Class 8 Dodge Ram race truck to the overall four-wheeled vehicle win in the 1979 SCORE Baja 1000. Walker Evans crossed the finish line in La Paz and beat all the other trucks and buggies with an elapsed time of 20 hours, 48 minutes, and 27 seconds on the run south down the Baja California peninsula. It was a historic win that would not be repeated for another 10 years by a very young Robby Gordon driving a Ford F-150 race truck.

Today’s Trophy Trucks are the most powerful and fastest things in off-road racing. The roar of their engines, the rumble they send through the ground, and the trail of dust they leave in their wake as they blaze across the desert at incredibly high speeds make them the thunder gods of modern off-road racing. However, before the Trophy Trucks took over the premier spot in desert racing, Class 8 trucks like Walker Evans’ 1978 Dodge Ram pickup were the kings of off-road racing. Their roar, rumble, and speed were a spectacle to behold. They’re no less exciting than that of today’s Trophy Trucks.

This restored ’78 pickup that won the overall four-wheeled vehicle victory in the 1979 Baja 1000 is powered by a Redline Performance 400hp LS3.

Walker Evans’ Dodge Ram was powered by a Keith Black-built 360ci V8 that made more than 700hp in its heyday. The powerful race engine was specially put together for the Chrysler-factory sponsored Dodge race truck. The truck had a cantilevered rear suspension with multiple springs and shocks and a huge progressive-ratio rocker arm system. The big fat Kuster shocks were attached with quick-release pins so they could be easily removed and replaced in the middle of a race.

Today, It features a three-link set up in the rear with Walker Evans Racing 2.5-inch adjustable coilover shocks and additional non-coil secondary shocks. Up front, the Dodge Ram truck now runs custom-built double A-Arms, and Walker Evans Racing 2.5-inch coilover shocks and non-coil secondary shocks. It’s also powered by a Redline Performance 400hp LS3 back by a Kroyer Racing 4L80 automatic transmission in its restored form.

Inside the cockpit of Walker Evans’ 1978 Dodge Ram race truck are Mastercraft seats with five-point harnesses to keep driver and co-driver firmly in place and AutoMeter gauges to help keep an eye on engine vital signs. What you don’t see is the full air conditioning system that was present for that famous Baja 1000 overall win.

The 1978 Dodge Ram pickup’s cockpit was sparse by modern off-road racing standard, but it was enough to win in those early days of desert racing. A fully welded roll cage made from 1.75-inch steel tube protects the driver and co-driver. The seats are Mastercraft Safety Sportsman models include full five-point harnesses. The AutoMeter gauges in the dash panel allowed the co-driver to keep tabs on engine vital signs.

For that famous 1979 Baja 1000 overall win, Walker’s Dodge Ram race truck even had a full air conditioning system. It was the very first truck to ever compete in Baja with complete air conditioning, and it had floor mats and plastic windows. Walker decided to take the air conditioning system out after that 1979 Baja 1000 race because of the extra weight.

Lady Luck always plays a part in any form of racing and Walker certainly had her riding with him and Bruce Florio during that 1979 Baja 1000. They crossed the finish line and then took the truck into impound. When they came back to pick it up the next day and trailer it back home, they discovered the ignition coil was laying across the top of the engine. It had come loose sometime during the race and was hanging there with only its wires to keep it from falling off and being lost. It had bounced around so much, it beat all the paint off one of the valve covers.

Watch the video to hear Walker Evans tell the whole story about the 1978 Dodge Ram race truck, his famous 1979 SCORE Baja 1000 overall win, and his long history winning races and championships in Dodge Ram race trucks.

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About the author

Stuart Bourdon

A passion for anything automotive (especially off-road vehicles), camping, and photography led to a life exploring the mountains and deserts of the Southwest and Baja, and a career in automotive, outdoor, and RV journalism.
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