Stage 3 of the Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000 presented by Method Race Wheels was the longest of the rally. Mark Post is still on top of the 4 wheel vehicle standings, and Steve Hengeveld leads the bikes, but there were major position changes to the field in both categories. Also noted in both categories are the vintage class competitors who occupy positions in the top 5.
In the bikes, 50+ (aka Vintage Dudes) competitor Ben Shuckburgh has moved up to 2nd overall. 3rd overall and also in the 50+ (aka Vintage Dudes) class is Andrew Haddon. Chuck Harvey is 4th overall on his Vintage Open class Honda XR600R, and Carlos Gracida rounds out the top 5 racing in the Modern Open class. Kevin and Michele Busch are riding in 6th place, and 3rd in the 50+ (aka Vintage Dudes) class.
In the 4 wheeled categories, a pair of Chenowth buggies have climbed to the top of the field. It must bring a lot of pride for Grand Marshall Lynn Chenowth to see his handiwork out front after all these years. Running 2nd overall is Ryan Arciero running in Baja Bob Gordon’s famous Chenowth class one car racing in the Vintage Open Buggies class. 3rd overall belongs to the Chenowth DR-2 buggy driven by Ryan Thomas, and Mike Lund. Their car has only a 4cylinder engine, racing in the Vintage 4-cyl Buggies class. 4th overall is the rock racer of Dave Cole. No doubt his 4 wheel drive was a big help in the silt, but his Evolution Ultra 4×4 class car is also super fast. The 5th spot goes to Lightning Larry Ragland racing Jimmy Smith’s Ultra Wheels car. Ragland is a Baja racing icon, having won the Baja 1000 overall 5 times.
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The team will certainly be celebrating tonight; they are sponsoring a casino night party in Loreto. They tried to do it last year in Bay of LA, but the winds came up and blew it away. 6th through 10th overall are all Evolution era cars.
The Baja terrain began to take a toll on competitors, and the silt beds were a major factor in the day’s outcome. Silt is made up of tiny particles of dirt that are the consistency of talcum powder. It’s amazing that something so light and insignificant, when concentrated in the millions, can bring a purpose-built race vehicle to a grinding halt. Not only does it swallow vehicles whole, but those who make it through without getting stuck have silt clogging their air filters and grinding away at the moving parts. One of the worst things about the silt beds is the lack of vision. When it gets whipped up, visibility is zero. Often times a stuck car will collect the next racer coming down the course.
That’s what happened to the Pioneer 4x4s, early Ford Bronco of Andrew Norton. Coming through the silt, a car popped out of the dust next to them. They swerved to avoid them and got high centered in a deep rut. Before the dust would clear, #339 Dave Moore slammed into them from behind. Moore’s 1995 Ford Bronco got the better end of the deal as the damage to the early Bronco was extensive. Luckily, nobody was injured, and both trucks made it to Loreto. The NORRA Mexican 1000 might be “The Happiest Race On Earth!”, but it’s also the real deal when it comes to the challenges of racing in Baja. It’s all part of the incredible adventure.
Stage 4 will be traveling further down the peninsula to La Paz. Each day gets everyone closer to the ultimate goal; the finish line in Cabo.
All Photos by BinkDesigns.com