Elmore Toyota

This Battle-Tested Pickup Earns Raves, Both Off Road and On Showroom Floor
by Dan Miller
May/June 2017
Elmore Toyota
Keep on Trucking
Elmore Toyota customer Brady Helm (left) is happy to display Service Manager Mike Horner’s 1990 Toyota pickup at the dealership when it’s not seeing racing action.
If Mike Horner’s 1990 Toyota pickup truck could talk, it would probably say, “Why are you still doing this to me?!”

You’d cry uncle, too, if your owners had subjected you to dozens of grueling off-road desert races, such as the Baja 1000 (7 wins) and 500 (3) and the Mint 400 (3). In between, this rugged rig rests in the relative calm of the showroom at Elmore Toyota, the Westminster, California, dealership where customer Brady Helm bought it 28 years ago and where Horner — the current owner — now works as the service manager.
 
“Brady and I figure it’s competed in at least 60 races covering more than 70,000 miles,” says Horner. “While the stock engine has been replaced with a bigger motor and the transmission and shocks have been upgraded, the frame and most of the cab are still original. It’s an amazing machine.”
 
Horner got hooked on desert racing when he went along for a ride with Ivan “Iron Man” Stewart in 1985. So perhaps he should give his pickup the nickname “Iron Truck.” In 2000, to commemorate the start of a new millennium, the Baja race was doubled to 2,000 miles. This truck went the distance.
 
Also noteworthy: It claimed three Toyota Milestone Awards, presented to teams that complete every mile of every race for a full season. How remarkable is that? Horner figures the attrition rate when going full bore amid cacti, scrub and broken terrain is at least 50 percent.
 
The best, though, might still be yet to come.
 
“People love taking pictures and selfies with it, and kids dig it,” says Horner of the customers’ interaction with the truck. “But I’m not done racing it. Hopefully, it and I still have a couple more years of competition left in us.”
 
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