The Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000 travels the entire length of the Baja Peninsula; taking in some remote places along the way. Very little information is coming out of the Bay of LA after stage 2, so we can talk a little about the rally itself. “The Happiest Race On Earth!” is also one of the coolest traveling car shows on the planet. You won’t find a more diverse group of vehicles competing than during the Mexican 1000. The cars, trucks, and motorcycles that participate in the rally, represent the entire history of off-road racing. The class structure is such that the different eras are all represented.
For instance, the pioneer era is for cars that ran from 1967 to 1975. There are different types of vehicles from that era, so you have a pioneer buggies class, pioneer 4×4, etc. This allows vehicles of the same type to compete against each other, and allows enough flexibility so that no matter what you show up with, NORRAhas a class for you. The organizers also allow teams to race by vehicle type if they choose, in order to provide more competition. Racing in the Vintage Stock Production Cars class, are cars ranging from Larry Trim’s 1969 Rambler to a pair of 1989 Porsche 911’s.
Larry’s car, which was originally driven by James Garner, can fit in the Pioneer era, but he chooses to race the other sedans, regardless of the year. The same goes for Lawrence Higbee racing Vintage Stock Production Cars with his 1974 Volkswagen Thing. The main goal is to have fun, so NORRA grants a lot of leeway.
This freedom attracts vehicles that you don’t typically see racing in other events. When was the last time you saw a pair of VW Westphalia Camper Vans racing off-road? The guys from GoWesty are back this year, and competing with their VW campers in the Evolution RV class. If you think they just made that class up, think again. A Condor motorhome built by Bill Stroppe ran the NORRA Mexican 1000 in 1969. Plenty of other “out of the box” cars are in the race. Bruce Galien’s Funco Staggered Tandem car has a single front, and single rear seat. Riding in the rear seat, with limited vision out the front, is reported to take an especially cast iron stomach to resist getting car sick. Another car that stands out from the pack is Tom Bird’s 914 Porsche bodied car running in the Legend Bugs class.
There are a ton of cool trucks racing from all eras, including Evolution. The Evolution era represents modern race vehicles. There you will find high tech buggies and Trophy Trucks. The same is true for the bikes. You will see the latest offerings from all the manufacturers, as well as unique bikes like Bill Bryant’s Modern Open Harley-Davidson Sportster. Word is that the bikes had a tough go leaving San Felipe as there were many rocks buried in the sand that were not too friendly to their tires. The Busch’s had a flat and many others suffered the same fate. There were also the typical maladies like broken shifters and tip-overs in the silt. Anytime you are stopped in the silt, bad things can happen. Never put anything down, or it can be lost forever.
Speaking of lost forever, the chase crews are out there running all over too. We got a report of a crew that was losing tools and parts off the back of their trailer. Thankfully another team traveling the same route stopped and retrieved all their items. Once they caught up to the careless crew, the scavenger hunt was over. Kudos also goes out to the NORRA sweep crews who make sure everyone is accounted for. They are regularly out in the darkness helping teams that have broken down or had problems make it to the finish. While many are taking advantage of the festivities, they are still out there eating dirt and solving problems.
There is a ton of dedication and Baja ingenuity in that crew. Anyone who races knows the satisfaction you get from solving a problem that you thought was insurmountable. The ultimate goal is to get everyone to the finish in Cabo, and the adventures along the way make up the memories that last a lifetime. NORRA is all about the adventure. The rally honors the past, while forging the future. It’s a lot of fun for the competitors, and puts on a show for the fans that is unlike any other. Stage 2 had separate destinations for the bikes and the 4 wheel vehicles. Stage 3 will have them all converge in Loreto at the end of the day. We are right in the thick of things now. Stage 3 will be challenging; the bikes will run 346 total miles, the 4 wheel vehicles will do a staggering 438.
All Photos by BinkDesigns.com