When you’re making plans to run a 1,000-mile race down the entire Baja peninsula for the NORRA Mexican 1000, you have to possess a lot more than a race vehicle and the desire to beat yourself up for a week. Planning and preparation are paramount. This year, when this editor and five friends decided to do it in Allan Lindsay’s four-seat prerunner, we also decided we were going to run a bare-bones crew with just one chase vehicle, towing the enclosed trailer. This meant the truck needed to be ready for just about anything, like putting in untold miles on the race course should the race car have an issue.
We chose our buddy Linka’s ’13 F-350 4x4 for obvious reasons. While we could tow the trailer down to the next pit in style and comfort, it was still limber enough to head out on the course if need be. But the stock wheel and worn-out tire combo weren’t much to look at, and the stock stance and clearance left a lot to be desired up front.
After talking to Casey at SoCal SuperTrucks, we went with the tried-and-true Stage 1 leveling kit from Icon Vehicle Dynamics. Besides giving the truck the needed 2.5 inches to clear 35-inch tires, the Icon kit is about as simple as they get. A pair of Icon-engineered dual-rate coil springs with match-tuned 2.0 Aluminum Series shocks alignment cams is all that’s needed to level the F-350 out. And a matching set of 2.0 rear shocks is thrown in the rear to keep things uniform.
| Running the 50th anniversary NORRA Mexican 1000 is no easy feat, but with equipment like this, we managed to do it with no issues and a respectable finish. This was in no small part due to our well-outfitted tow/chase ’13 Ford F-350.
For rolling stock, we were already working with Ultra Motorsports, using its Xtreme 103 beadlock wheels on the race car. So it was natural to use one of its dualie wheels on the F-350. We chose the Predator in satin black, knowing the monochromatic look would give the black dualie a quick makeover. For tires, we followed suit. Since we were already running General Grabber X3s on the car, it only made sense to get another six for the truck. It was also pretty cool that both vehicles were running 35/12.50R17s, giving us more options if we had any issues deep down in Baja.
Another quick item we wanted to take care of was the faded chrome factory steps that hung down way too far on either side of the Ford. We happened to have a set of N-Fab AdjustSteps sitting over at Bud’s Diesel that fit the F-350, so we made a stop by there for one last install before hitting the road. Follow along as we make quick work of the installs, and check out the manufacturer websites for more info for your ride. And if you’re wondering how we did in the race: Third in class behind two veteran racers out of 14 cars, and 14th overall out of 260 vehicles. Not bad for a group of friends and a 10-year-old prerunner buggy!
| We started out with a clean, clean slate, but the tires were toast, and the hot rod stance had to go. The stock steps were way too close to the ground, as well.
| The Icon Vehicle Dynamics K62500 Stage 1 leveling kit was just the ticket for our upcoming adventure. It includes dual-rate coil springs and match-tuned 2.0 Aluminum Series shocks for the front and rear, as well as vehicle-specific alignment cams.
| Ultra Motorsports dualie wheels were just what we needed and would match the race car that was running Ultra’s Xtreme beadlocks. We chose the Predator in satin black and a 17-inch size, which enabled us to retain the stock inner rear wheels, keeping things simple and leaving us with plenty of spares.
| The 35/12.50R17 General Grabber X3s are the exact same tire we put on the race car, making this decision a no-brainer. This is a tire we reviewed online not long ago, which you can find at truckin.com.
| Once we had the truck up on the lift at SoCal SuperTrucks in San Bernardino, California, we jumped right in by disconnecting both the sway bar end links and the track bar.
| Next, we removed the brake line bracket from the steering knuckle. We also sprayed that crusty alignment can with penetrating oil so we could get it off in a few minutes.
| Now we were ready to remove the old shocks, top and bottom, to make way for the Icon components.
| With everything out of the way, we could droop the front axle enough to simply remove the stock coil.
| An air chisel was used to break the upper knuckle loose.
| Then the factory alignment cam could be removed and tossed.
| The Icon alignment cam was dropped into place with the proper index and locked back down with the top nut and cotter key.
| Something to remember before reassembly: The factory coil spring isolater needs to be reused on the Icon coil before it is installed.
| Now the Icon coil is squeezed back into place.
| It is extremely important that the coil is clocked correctly into the lower pad.
| Next, the Icon 2.0 aluminum-bodied shock was installed into the lower mount.
| And the upper mount quickly followed. This install moved along pretty quick and easy!
| We reinstalled the brake line bracket and the sway bar end link but saved the track bar for when the truck was back on the ground for alignment.
| We were looking pretty good under the fenderwells at this point but still had a little way to go.
| Installing the rear shocks was a simple remove-and-replace affair.
| We began the tire mounting and balancing with the factory 17-inch inner rears.
| A 1.5-inch adapter was needed to keep the 12.50 Generals from making contact in the rear. SoCal SuperTrucks uses a local company called Bronson Investments. They were located and installed in the matter of an hour.
| Finally, the rest of the Generals were mated to the Ultras and mounted, balanced, and installed, then the SoCal crew finalized the alignment and testdrove the truck. Soon, we were on our way to Bud’s Diesel in Midway City, California, for one more upgrade.
| The stock steps had already taken a beating and hung too far down for our liking anyway.
| Lucky for us, we had a set of N-Fab AdjustSteps waiting for us at Bud’s that would be perfect for our tow/chase truck.
| The Bud’s Diesel crew made quick work of getting the old steps out of our way.
| And the installation of the new steps didn’t take much longer; they use the same mounting holes, making things as easy as possible.
| We threw the adjustable steps on for all you loyal readers to see. It was another easy, basic, bolt-on affair.
| They look and work great, but for the trip and the final photos we decided to leave them off the truck.
| In less than a day’s work, we took an F-350 that was looking a little tired and gave it new life, and we also readied it for its 2,000-mile trip to Cabo and back.
| After that 2,000-mile trip, we had zero complaints about the killer Ultra-General combo or the Icon leveling kit. Everything performed flawlessly. We can’t wait to do it again!