Homebuilt Subaru Outback Survives 500-Mile Rally That Killed Trophy Trucks

A 500-mile off-road race isn’t something everyone’s brave enough to tackle, even in a purpose-built race truck. But if you wheel well enough, you can make the trek in almost anything, whether that be a nearly stock VW Beetle or a homebuilt Subaru Outback off-roader.

Such was achieved by John Frana and Ryan Brumund out of Illinois, who drove a modified, caged Outback nearly 18 hours to enter the longest off-road race in the United States, Best in the Desert’s 500-mile Vegas to Reno. Their vehicle arrived with few apparent mods, aside from a significant lift with a reported 12 inches of suspension travel, big all-terrain tires, and a serious rear push bar. If there’s a recipe for a breakdown in the middle of the desert, this isn’t far off it.

John Frana’s off-road Subaru Outback

But Frana, who has apparently been bouncing this same Subaru across rough terrain around the country for years, was more than prepared for his romp across the desert. This wasn’t even his first Vegas to Reno rodeo, after all, as past photos and video of his Subie at the race can be found across the web.

Here he is during the 2016 event:

While they faced fuel pump problems and flat tires during that particular race, they were still able to drive it back home to the Midwest.

This year, he did Outback owners everywhere proud by bringing his wagon to the finish looking little worse for wear, to the cheers of race officials. They cheered not just for his heroic drive, of course, but because his arrival meant they could finally go home; Frana’s was the last vehicle to finish the event, placing 165th overall.

As Frana is no doubt well-rehearsed in saying, though, to finish first, you must first finish, and finish is what dozens of UTVs and even four Trick Trucks (a variety of trophy truck) failed to do. He and his companion are no doubt the most grateful finishers to have done so, too, as their Subaru also happened to be their ride home to Illinois. And if Subaru knows what it’s doing, it’ll be waiting for them there with the keys to a 2022 Outback Wilderness, so they can run the race again next year in Subaru’s name.

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