The company is lending support to an enthusiast team to honor 50 years of Beetle and dune buggy racing in the desert.

Volkswagen has decided to sponsor a unique racing team that will be heading to the Baja 1000 in a 47-year-old Beetle.

Headed by designer Josh McGuckin, the Denver-based ProjectBaja.com team last attempted the grueling desert race in 2014 but failed to make it to the finish line. Now, after six years of development and with a bit of help from Volkswagen, the team will head back to Baja California for the 2017 race.

The team is not just using a Beetle body on a trophy truck frame, instead making extensive but seemingly minor improvements to better cope with the off-road environment. Changes include a new rear torsion bar adjuster, Fox external-reservoir shocks, stiffer springs, wider BFG all-terrain tires and necessary safety provisions.

"For decades, Volkswagen Beetle vehicles, Beetle-based racers and Dune Buggies have been competing in this epic event," said VW North America communications chief Pietro Zollino. "We felt it appropriate to sponsor this team of eager enthusiasts who are following in the wheeltracks of Volkswagen desert racers over the past 50 years."

The race stretches across 1,134 miles of challenging Baja California terrain.