February 16, 2012: In celebration of his love affair with off-road motorsports and the exotic Baja peninsula, the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) today announced that television star and racing journalist Dave Despain will be honored as the official Grand Marshall for the upcoming NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. Scheduled for April 28-May 2, this unique off-road event will cover 1,100 miles over four days beginning in Mexicali, Baja, Mexico and finishing in the world-class resort destination of San Jose Del Cabo.

Despain, a longtime off-road racing and Baja enthusiast, joins a growing list of distinguished Mexican 1000 Rally Grand Marshalls. Iconic Parnelli Jones, overall victor in the original NORRA Mexican 1000 in 1971 and 1972, enjoyed that title in the inaugural 2010 event, while Baja record setter and fiberglass dune buggy inventor Bruce Meyers was named Grand Marshall last year.

“I’ve been in love with the Baja Peninsula since the first time I covered a race there so to be named Grand Marshall for this year’s Mexican 1000 is both an honor and great thrill for me,” explained Despain. “Baja racers are special people but when they’re racing and I’m working TV there’s never a chance to socialize. The Mexican 1000 offers an opportunity to hang out with these folks after we all take our helmets off. I can’t wait!”
As part of his Grand Marshall duties, Despain will host the “Welcome Fiesta and Driver’s Meeting” at Mexicali’s historic bullring the night before competition begins. An avid motorcyclist, Despain will chase the event on the highway riding a Yamaha Super Tenere and also spend one day as a co-driver in a vintage off-road race car.

Already gaining a reputation for bringing fun and a shared sense of adventure back to Baja off-road racing, the one-of-a-kind, once-a-year rally spotlights vintage off-road vehicles, motorcycles and ATVs, as well as rally cars, a limited number of modern desert racecars and classes for prerunner-type trucks and buggies.

Perhaps best known today for his weekly hosting role at SPEED’s top-rated Wind Tunnel program (a job he has held since 2003), Despain has a long history of off-road and motorcycle broadcasting including hosting a number of highly regarded ESPN programs covering the SCORE Trophy-Truck series.

“NORRA is pleased to honor Dave Despain as our 2012 Mexican 1000 Grand Marshall and celebrate his many contributions to the heritage and coverage of our sport, both to the two and four-wheel world,” stated Pearlman. “Our objective for the 2012 rally is communicating the Mexican 1000’s unique story to a larger audience, and Dave is the ideal Grand Marshall in that regard. His influence on the motorsports universe cannot be overstated.”

Dubbed the “Happiest Race on Earth” by Dirt Sports magazine, the unique vintage-flavored Mexican 1000 off-road rally was co-created by promoter Mike Pearlman in 2010. The one-of-a-kind, once-a-year, four-day rally includes vintage off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rally cars, a limited number of modern desert racecars and classes for prerunner trucks and buggies. Registration is now open to automobiles and motorcycles that meet basic safety standards as outlined in the new NORRA rulebook (currently available www.mexican1000.com).