2012 NORRA Mexican 1000 - Video
For the past two years, Off-Road.Com (ORC) has covered the Norra Mexican 1000 rally riding with Team Diablo Caballo (TDC) and their ‘68 Ford Bronco piloted by Boyd Jaynes and Brian Godfrey. In previous years, the team faced much adversity, battling through chassis and ignition issues the first year and a DNF the second year due a burnt-up transmission.
However, this year’s ORC/TDC liaison generated an entirely different outcome.Starting in border town Mexicali, the rally (created primarily for vintage off-road racers) followed its traditional route making overnight stops along the way. The first stop was at the small fishing village Bahia de Los Angeles, and then the Mexican 1000 traveled onto Loreto, then La Paz with it finally ending in San Jose Del Cabo with a gala event at Mark Post’s Cabo Azul Hotel. The entire peninsula exudes amazing landscape, so the journey was incredible.
Mexicali’s picturesque bullring set the platform for tech and contingency, providing drinks and music for the numerous off-road race fans. Our team’s spirits were high and as prepared to take on this four-day adventure.
First off, communication presents enormous challenges during Baja races. Cell service and radios function limitedly and typically fail. This year, we had an IonEarth satellite tracker on the race truck, which detected location every 20 minutes; this was a huge help. Armed with Sat phones, our chase crew vehicles leap-frogged ahead and pitted daily.
Day 1 – Mexicali – San Felipe - Bahia de Los Angeles
The town’s ceremonial launch paraded racers towards the desert and initiated stage one. With nine entries in the 1977 and Earlier 4x4 Class, we were 56th off the line and last to start. By the end of stage one, our guys quickly established the lead in our class. After a fuel stop and brief rendezvous in San Felipe, the team continued onto the last stage in Bahia de Los Angeles.
Upon arrival in Bahia de Los Angeles, we found ourselves in pleasantly unfamiliar territory by actually finishing the stages during daylight hours, and most importantly - finishing first in our class!
Day 2 - Bahia de Los Angeles – San Ignacio - Loreto
The next 389 combined miles included two monster stages; the first was 124 miles, and the second was a long 175 miles. The latter was concerning because it challenged our fuel window with a gas station deficit and overall remoteness. We made our best guesstimate and went for it.
On the opposite side of the peninsula, those of us in the chase crew had no real communication with truck and checked IonEarth regularly to see if the guys were still moving. We tracked them to what seemed to be the finish and noticed they were stopped! Panic and an immediate urgency to reach them ended abruptly with a sat phone call expressing that they were sitting at the finish line, drinking margaritas, and most importantly - they were still first in class!
The spirit of brotherhood drives this rally. Late that evening, a fellow competitor drove in needing massive repairs; we graciously volunteered our help, as we were in this same situation both years prior. Next thing you know, there was a full crew in the hotel parking lot including welders and tools getting the job done. It was a great site compared to the ultra-competitive teams at the well-known SCORE Baja races where comradery is such a rare site.
Day 3 - Loreto - La Paz
At the start of the third day, our team was euphoric from having won the previous days’ stages. The plan was to keep on doing what we were doing and keep a steady pace. We had plenty of time to spare with more than a 50-minute lead. “What could possibly go wrong?”
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Shortly after the start, the guys began passing racers from other classes. Disaster struck as they pulled out of the dust to pass "Snortin Nortin" Jim Riley and inadvertently hit a culvert, launching the Bronco into the air and nearly rolling the truck. Obvious damages were a taco’d front rim and a slightly damaged front axle. With a tire change, a quick inspection and a newfound respect for the unknown, the guys were back on the road. This was just the first of many close calls our team endured; many more challenged us as we made our way down the peninsula.
Cruising in on fumes, the guys somehow brought the Bronco in for yet another stage win. After a thorough inspection and a few repairs, the Bronco was set for the final day.
Day 4 – La Paz – Todo Santos – San Jose del Cabo
With a potential win in the horizon, nervousness with a side of excitement set in as we made our final preparations on the fourth and final day. The plan was to take it easy and cross the line just like previous days. Only 140 miles stood between our team and a class win.
At the beginning of stage one, our crew topped off the fuel and turned the boys loose. All seemed to be going well until a heavy fuel smell lingered from the back of the Bronco. "PULL OVER!" Brian yelled as he navigated, "PULL OVER NOW!” Somehow the previous day's rerouting of the fuel vent had created a siphon and was pulling fuel out of the fuel cell at a high rate. The guys made a quick repair avoiding a possible catastrophe.
Back on the road and cautious from the potential disaster, the guys kept a steady pace and lead from the nearest competitor. The disappointment of losing or not finishing still existed as a possibility and was something we couldn't afford.
Soon enough, the silhouettes of Cabo’s luxury hotels were seen against the cool blue waters of land 's end. We had made it, crossing the finish line with over an hour on our competition and 14th overall. Not only did we win, amazingly, we won every stage along the way. Contrasted to previous year's performances, this was amazing.
At the end of it all, an awards presentation and firework show was held at Mark Post’s Cabo Azul resort where all competitors got together for a little bench racing and good times. The question “Are you coming back?” was asked to many, and 100 percent of the participants answered, “Yes! Without a doubt!”
“You know it took a few years to get it right. We kept making changes here and there, and the Bronco’s fast now!” Jaynes said after the race. “Compared to the others in our class, ours is more of a rally car; the roads are more like WRC roads. But in contrast, it really handles the rough well too, and I think that is the key to being fast at this event.
“This a great event! Now we have a four-day format and it ends here in Cabo; it’s where everyone wants to be anyway. Where else do you see a desert race where someone breaks their car, puts it on the trailer and heads south? It’s where we want to be. The destination is half of what this is all about. You’re not just racing a race; you’re trying to get someplace you really want to be, and it’s a huge social event in all respects, not just the destination but in each stop every night. It’s just a great, great event!”
“It’s like ‘70s night for off-road cars! Awesome!" Brian Godfrey said after the race.
Another NORRA Mexican 1000 is in the books. We can’t wait for next year. For more information on the visit, visit http://www.norra.com/.