When you’re a race-winning veteran of Baja, you aren’t expected to show up to the desert in a run-of-the-mill lifted pickup decked out with the latest lightbars or fancy artwork of one of the handful of caffeine energy drink sponsors. When you’ve conquered Baja as a racer as well as a builder for most of your life, you can show up in anything you please because odds are that it’ll be far faster than most flashy rides out in the dirt.
This Chevy Silverado luxury prerunner you see here doesn’t quite jump out at you as a high speed desert monster but the reality is that it’s a menacing wolf in sheep’s clothing. Underneath the steel and fiberglass skin lives a Mirage Racing Products–built street-legal trophy truck with all the modern amenities anyone could ever want while prerunning the brutal deserts of Baja California, Mexico.
We first caught a glimpse of this luxury prerunner while on the Baja HID Excursion a few years ago, and we knew right away that there was something very special about the metallic gunmetal gray Chevy, but it wasn’t until we saw it rip through the whoops at high speeds that our suspicions had been confirmed. A street-legal trophy truck is just about the ultimate off-road vehicle most of us could ever aspire to own, and the Mirage Racing Prerunner definitely leaves more than a few jaws dropping. After getting a little chatty with the owner, Bill Varnes, owner and founder of Mirage Racing Products in Santee, California, it was pretty clear why he built this luxury prerunner the way he did.
Bill didn’t want a truck that ran on high-octane race fuel or required support trucks to keep it going through Baja. As a long-time veteran of Baja, Bill has won and lost everything he’s ever wanted to win, and he’s been doing so since January of 1968, so it’s no surprise that he leaned toward a no-nonsense build philosophy when it came to his leisure go-fast prerunner. Bill needed a good reliable prerunner to help chase, pit and support his customers in Baja for some of the race cars he builds. His only requirement was that the truck needed to be comfortable, safe, and, most importantly, it needed to be fast!
We think Bill hit the nail on the head and built one hell of a prerunner that can speed across the deserts of Baja all day long while sitting in a nice and cushy climate-controlled cab. Sure, the truck is fast but more than that, it’s simple and reliable. It features nothing too extravagant that would otherwise compromise the reliability of this luxury prerunner out on the backroads of Baja.
Since we shot the truck a while back, Bill Varnes has since sold the truck and moved on to build his next ultimate prerunner. The truck is now owned by Hollywood stunt driver, Rich Minga, who is a Baja Champion himself with three SCORE Baja 1000 class wins. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume the Mirage Racing Prerunner is in great hands.
Year Make Model: 2010 Chevy Silverado 1500
Engine: 606hp 7.0L LS7 Corvette EFI crate V-8 engine with 16-quart dry sump oil system, LS7 headers, Bob Butler–built 3-inch exhaust, UMP air filter system
Transmission: Ken Mogi–built 4L80E automatic transmission with full manual valvebody, TCS 1,800-stall torque convertor Transfer Case: None
Front Axle: None
Rear Axle: Dirt-Tech Trophy Truck full-floating fabricated 9-inch race housing, Mark Williams custom spool, Sandy Cone axleshafts, Chrisman Full Floating hubs, 10-inch ring gear, 5.43 gears
Weitzel Motorsports 4130 chromoly boxed lower A-arms and 4130 chromoly twin boxed upper J-arms mounted on a Weitzel Motorsports Trophy Truck platform, FOX Racing 4.4 five-tube bypass shocks with FOX Racing 3.0 coilovers with hypercoil springs and Fox Racing 2.0 hydraulic bumpstops, 65-inch 4130 chromoly Dirt-Tech trailing arms with Mirage Racing Products four-link, Fox Racing 4.4 five-tube bypass shocks, Fox Racing 3.0 coilovers with Hypercoil springs and Fox Racing 2.5-inch hydraulic bumpstops, Geiser Brothers sway bar
Tires & Wheels
39×13.50R17 BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR Projects in front and KRT’s in the rear mounted on six-lug forged aluminum 17×8.5 TrailReady Trophy Truck beadlock wheels
Howe 2.75-inch power steering Trophy Truck rack, 17-inch Schroeder steering wheel, custom Mirage Racing Products steering column
Coleman 14-inch rotors at all four corners with six-piston CNC calipers
Vision X HID lights
Racepak 250-KT UDX digital dash display, custom tweed upholstery done by Darren Brandvig of Autofab, Mastercraft Safety Suspension seats and harnesses, rear storage box and refrigerator that can be swapped out for a Mastercraft Safety rear bench seat, Mirage Racing Products custom aluminum dash, dual Lowrance Baja 540 GPS units, dual Yaesu FM race radios, Racer X intercom systems with headsets, Art Carr shifter, Vintage Air Hot Rod air conditioning system, iPod input
Mirage Racing–built one-piece fiberglass lift off front end with Corvette hood bulge, Mirage Racing–built fiberglass bedsides, C&R Radiator and with internal oil coolers and heat exchangers, dual 16-inch Spal electric fans, Twin C&R Transmission coolers with Spal electric fans, two-piece forged driveshaft, Argo aluminum race jack, built-in spare fluid trays, Mirage Racing built 85-gallon aluminum fuel cell with Harmon bladder, metallic gunmetal gray paint by Chuck Hogan at Balboa Auto Body