This VW ID.4 by Tanner Foust and Rhys Millen Racing is challenging the Baja peninsula

German automaker Volkswagen is fielding its newest ID.4 electric crossover in the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) Mexican 1000 race in the Mexican Baja peninsula. Most people are not aware that a Meyers Manx – an off-road dune buggy based on the iconic VW Beetle – won the inaugural NORRA Mexican 1000 back in 1967. And now, it's the VW ID. 4's turn to prove its merits in the harsh Mexican terrain.

Of course, this Baja-ready VW ID.4 has a set of off-road mods to make life easier for the driver and co-driver. It starts with a stock 2021 VW ID.4 1st Edition model with a single rear-mounted 201-horsepower electric motor and an 82 kWh battery pack. Next, the wizards at Rhys Millen Racing gave it a set of rally-style coilover struts, tubular lower front control arms, and boxed lower rear links. With the mods in place, the VW Id.4 sits two inches higher off the ground than stock.

Rhys Millen Racing relocated the radiator several inches higher to improve both the vehicle's cooling capacity and approach angle. You'll also find additional skid plates and 8/8-inch steel reinforcements in the undercarriage. Finally, it has a nice set of 18-inch OZ. Racing off-road wheels wrapped in 255/70R18 off-road tires to complete the Baja-conquering vibe.

"It takes great confidence and preparation to present a stock-based vehicle to the starting line of a race like this, especially an electric one like the ID.4," said Rhys Millen. "We've been pleasantly surprised at how well the ID.4 has taken to the terrain."

While the electric powertrain was left untouched, the blokes at Rhys Millen Racing focused on safety. They gave the power electronics some extra protection against the harsh desert elements. Inside, the cabin has a roll cage, safety racing seats, and new screens to display basic powertrain and battery data.

The NORRA Mexican 1000 race is running from April 25 to 29, 2021. Professional racing driver Tanner Foust is piloting the VW ID.4 accompanied by fellow writer and industry colleague Emme Hall as co-driver. This year's route covers 1,141 miles of varying terrain, with approximately 893 miles of challenging off-road pavement.

The team will deploy a portable biofuel generator powering a 50 kWh portable fast charger to replenish the ID.4's batteries. Due to COVID travel restrictions, the race will run in loops, but Foust will attempt to complete 98-percent of the stages in each loop event without recharging the vehicle.

"We worked closely with Volkswagen engineers to find the right driving style for various types of terrain that could hit the balance of speed and battery consumption," said Foust. "It's early days for competing with electric vehicles, but we already have several ideas of what we'd like to do next year."