NORRA '17 Questions

ACME

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We are planning our first NORRA event and our first race all the way down the peninsula. Yup, 25+ years of doing this stupid sport and we've never been south of the Bay of LA... Planning on running an EVO class type car and considering options. We had a few questions of the NORRA savvy. Yes, we've reached out to NORRA but have not yet heard back and you know how patient racers are; so... :

- How are most people handling race/chase fuel. Knowing some of the stops and diesel is sometimes scarce in certain spots, especially when a lot of crews come through and sometimes in more remote locations the Pemex varies: Carrying all your race fuel and extra diesel?

- Anyone suggest any hotel arrangements at the various overnight stops? Not looking for the Ritz but the wife is over some of the questionable accommodations we've had over the years...

- Is there anyone who handles hotel arrangements? Nikki?

- Planning a 3 day return drive home, any suggestions of must see or stay places besides the ones we hit on the way down? Been all over the northern half over the years, but want to see some of the southern parts to help plan for future expeditions...

- What are you NORRA vets thinking about on how to handle the San Felipe swing this year? Seems a tough run for the chase trucks?

Any ideas or thoughts are appreciated! Gracias!
 

scary fast hummer

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We are planning our first NORRA event and our first race all the way down the peninsula. Yup, 25+ years of doing this stupid sport and we've never been south of the Bay of LA... Planning on running an EVO class type car and considering options. We had a few questions of the NORRA savvy. Yes, we've reached out to NORRA but have not yet heard back and you know how patient racers are; so... :

- How are most people handling race/chase fuel. Knowing some of the stops and diesel is sometimes scarce in certain spots, especially when a lot of crews come through and sometimes in more remote locations the Pemex varies: Carrying all your race fuel and extra diesel?

- Anyone suggest any hotel arrangements at the various overnight stops? Not looking for the Ritz but the wife is over some of the questionable accommodations we've had over the years...

- Is there anyone who handles hotel arrangements? Nikki?

- Planning a 3 day return drive home, any suggestions of must see or stay places besides the ones we hit on the way down? Been all over the northern half over the years, but want to see some of the southern parts to help plan for future expeditions...

- What are you NORRA vets thinking about on how to handle the San Felipe swing this year? Seems a tough run for the chase trucks?

Any ideas or thoughts are appreciated! Gracias!
X2! I am in the same boat, first time in Baja. Done this type of rally racing before but need lots of Baja logistics advice. Looking forward to the replies. Thanks!!

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volks 73

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This will be our 4th NORRA 1000, We use 1 chase truck, and have it take off before the car starts each stage, we have anly waited for it once for a few minets. I put a 110 gal. aux diesel tank in my pickup. We fill up with the last ULSD in Jesus Maria or Guerrero Negro, This has gotten us back to Guerro Negro or as far north as San Quintin depending how many side trips we've had to make. We run premex in the race car, we fill the car at some Premex stations, and other stops not near premex stations we fill from cans.Race fuel is available for purchase and pick in Ensenada before the race. I think they might even haul it farther down the peninsula if enough people are interested in it. We don't use a service for Hotels,my wife make all of the Hotel reservations. NORRA puts out a list of recommended Hotels, We have had good luck with what they put out. We do the return trip in 3 days with our first stop in Loreto, lots of Hotel options without reservations. Our next stop has been San Quintin. I'm also curios about what to expect with San Felipe being added. Hope this helps
 

Josh 8

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The only place a hotel is a issue is BoL. We ran it last year and this was only town we could not find a room other than Ensenada. We made reservations for Ensenada.

As for gas it really wasn't an issue. But in BoL they will only have 87 octane. If you need better you have to haul it in. And as normal it's always a good idea to have 5 or 10 gallons of extra fuel in the chase truck for emergency.

Last year I don't think a single stage was over 250 miles so we were able to run the entire stages with out gassing. Plus the stages start or end really close to a Pemex station. When you finish a stage simply stop at the first Pemex you see going south and you will be fine. That is if you have a 250 mile range.

Then you will see your chase team. Change out a flat, gas the car, look it over and eat some thing. Then do it all over again. It's 8 separate races in 4 days. It's exhausting if you do all the stages. If your car is slow like a true vintage ride, you need to have two separate teams to do the driving or else its just too much as the secound day rolls into the third and fourth. There were a lot of class one/ buggy per-runners that had a hard time making it in during day light to BoL and Loretto. It is common for the older cars to be in at midnight. Then prep the car again and be at the starting line at 9am.

This race is billed as the "happest race on earth". And it is a great time. But that name is also misleading. It's an all out Baja point run race if you want it to be. I guess it possible that some one could show up with the idea that there just going to have a good time and not take it seriously but I can't do that. And in some ways it scarier than the B1k because there is no prerunning. So it's as fast as you can drive, blind to the course ahead. And at least last year you could race on the highway just like pre 2003 in Baja. Wide open 130 if you got it under the hood. Scary. In the towns and villages there is a 25mph limit but if the special test is on asphalt it's wide open till you get to a town or out of the town. And the roads are not closed. There's traffic coming at you around some blind corner because unlike the B1k the locals don't know there's a race invading there little world. With score the locals see and talk with all the pre runners for weeks so they know what's the deal is. With Norra, they have no idea or warning of a race coming at them. It's truly a frightening, and scary situation that can lead to horror when your on the highway or any publicly traveled road wither it be paved or gravel.

It's nuts and brutal. It's old school Baja racing. I love it and it not for the faint of heart.
 
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43mod

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it is not wide open on asphalt sections. speed limits still apply. so does common sense a trying not to kill anyone innocent or not.
 

yachtman

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Is there a good road from San Felipe to LA Bay WITHOUT going back to Ensenada????
 

ACME

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Thanks for the input and suggestions & keep the coming!

We always carry extra chase fuel so it sounds like an Ecotec powered car with a Pemex tune shouldn't need to worry about the fuel farther south and the Diesel supply not an issue?
 

Rory

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- How are most people handling race/chase fuel. Knowing some of the stops and diesel is sometimes scarce in certain spots, especially when a lot of crews come through and sometimes in more remote locations the Pemex varies: Carrying all your race fuel and extra diesel?

I have a stock tank in my 2013 Ford truck and have not run into diesel issues as of yet. I think the longest stretch you have to go between gas stations is El Rosario to Guerrero Negro (if not going to BOLA). Catavina has fuel but usually out of diesel. I've never had to pack a 5 gallon can for emergencies but it wouldn't hurt, especially if you have an unexpected side trip.

- Anyone suggest any hotel arrangements at the various overnight stops? Not looking for the Ritz but the wife is over some of the questionable accommodations we've had over the years...

I've reserved all our rooms on Trivago or Expedia with no issues. BOLA is another story.

- Is there anyone who handles hotel arrangements? Nikki?

- Planning a 3 day return drive home, any suggestions of must see or stay places besides the ones we hit on the way down? Been all over the northern half over the years, but want to see some of the southern parts to help plan for future expeditions...

I'm not the guy to answer these questions, I'm usually just trying to get home. My buddy Sean Hoglund who does all the prep for Baja Bob Gordon usually takes 3-4 days and plans out new stuff to stop and check out on his way home. I say this is the way to do it, especially if you have the family with you, exploring Baja is fun, take your time on the way home and enjoy it more.....this is something I have to keep telling myself because I'm always in a hurry to get home.

- What are you NORRA vets thinking about on how to handle the San Felipe swing this year? Seems a tough run for the chase trucks?

The San Felipe HWY is almost complete to Coco's and HWY 1. When I went through there in June to pick up the Toyota there was only 22 miles of dirt left. They were working on it pretty heavily and LOTS of crews on site. I'm guessing it will be close to complete by the time NORRA shows up next year. It took me 1 1/2 hours to do 22 miles in the dirt but i was really taking it easy and towing a trailer. San Felipe to HWY 1 was 3 hours. I'm guessing it will be 2 hours by April 2017. Looking for ward to the new layout, San Felipe will be a welcomed site, we should all be drinking adult beverages by 2pm on day one and possibly the same time for day 2 in BOLA.
 

scary fast hummer

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There's traffic coming at you around some blind corner because unlike the B1k the locals don't know there's a race invading there little world. ...they have no idea or warning of a race coming at them. It's truly a frightening, and scary situation that can lead to horror when your on the highway or any publicly traveled road wither it be paved or gravel.
This is the way we rally race in North Africa. The rule is simple; never, EVER, drive faster than you can see. No trophy is worth running over a kid.
 

scary fast hummer

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For those of you who have done this before, are there camp areas each night where you can bivouac around a trailer as a HQ/repair shop/feed trough/crash for the night? My group does not necessarily need hotel rooms, just a place to circle the wagons. Any info greatly appreciated.
 

Chris_Wilson

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At the Bay of LA stop there is a bivouac area because there are not enough hotels for the norra circus. The other stops do not have a formal camp area but there are many places you can camp including parking lots. Easy to figure it out as you go, and maybe someone will ask $5 to camp on their parking lot. Ensenada has a couple formal campgrounds, not sure of the costs. San Felipe you can camp at Pete's Camp for a fee or just go out in the desert and camp for free. Loreto and La Paz, hotel parking lot probably best bet but if you drive out of town far enough you can just camp in open land.

And best advice ever, and repeated many times by Sal Fish. Drive only what you can see!!!
There is no prerunning for NORRA but even at SCORE, your prerun does not tell you if there is a cow or a local vehicle or a spectator/child on the track over that blind rise.
 

Zambo

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Every year I go down there and am amazed at how many racers are off the course, on their lids, suspension arms broken off, etc. If that is your thing, have at it. Me? I drive as fast as I can see and don't break the truck. Steady progress is the name of the game in a 1400 mile race. No, I'm never going to overall this thing, but yes, I have won my class the last two years in a middle-of-the-pack truck. Mainly because everybody else breaks something IMO.

If your chase truck can go 300 miles on a tank you should be good if you just stop at the diesel stations. You won't need to plan a 250 mile range is my guess this year. I've done it with a single chase truck every year and fill up at Pemex between stages. I take one dump can just in case, which is always smart in Baja.

I flat tow my race truck home with the chase truck and a tow bar. I leave mid-morning and go to San Ignacio, usually get there in time for a late dinner without hauling ass like a donkey. Get up early and make it across the border and back into San Diego by dinnertime the next day. I have a friend go with me and again, steady progress, don't stop. I took the dirt thru Coco's and it was about 1.5 hours to do the 26 miles, which I'm guessing will be much shorter if not completely gone by race day. BTW, the new paved road is like the autobahn compared to the highway up the Pacific. I think there are 2 traffic lights between Coco's and Mexicali. Perhaps when its finished there will be more traffic but there certainly won't be the stop and go traffic or the hill climbs of Highway 1.

Another avenue for rooms is VRBO.com (vacation rental by owner) or AirBnb. There will be a cleaning fee attached, but you can find whole houses or condos that are big enough for your whole team for less money than buying several hotel rooms. In Cabo we had one condo right on the ocean an easy walk from the party that was awesome and it was less money than buying two hotel rooms at a middling place across the street.
 

scary fast hummer

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Thanks Zambo, great stuff. Related question to you flat towing your beast; does your racer have plates? Or does it matter?

I am completely ignorant of how pure race/non road vehicles are treated in Mexico. My buggy has an AZ non-road RV plate. Any info on any of the race car legal issues (registration/plates/insurance/towing/towing/etc.) greatly appreciated. TIA
 

bajaxp

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Also Zambo...where did you get the tow bar for your truck?
 

scary fast hummer

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Zambo

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The biggest hurdle, if you want to call it a hurdle, is getting your race car across the border. I actually drive mine across the border as it has plates on it and is properly registered. I think as long as you have the original registration that is current (paid up) and the matching plates or stickers that you will be okay.

As for driving down the road in Baja you won't be harassed if you're not driving like a donkey. One of the beauties of going down there is that its pretty much the wild west, but don't think that the wild west is a place where you can act out. In the real wild west, if you were an ass they put you in the dirt. So I just remain respectful down there and save the racing for race day on the course.

As for flat towing, the first year I just used one of those el cheapo tow bars you can buy at pep boys or autozone. It comes with brackets you can bolt or weld to the front of your car. They are rated for 5k pounds. My truck is right at 5k and it handled it fine. I think if you were worried about it you could get one and beef it up a little by welding on some extra material and reinforcing the pivot points, etc. Or buy a heavier duty model but those are $400 bucks or so and bulky. Last year I just built my own tow bar out of steel tubing and heim joints, which also works fine but probably in the end isn't much better than the store bought one. It is a little longer and articulates more. Just remember that you can't back up when flat towing, and have some sort of general plan in mind if you wind up doing serious damage to your car in the race how you're going to get it home. There will be plenty of guys down there to help in such a situation and point you in the right direction.

Credit to Mark Stahl for suggesting the tow bar idea, which is what he does too. Sure has made the trip a lot easier every year.
 

Mark Stahl

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The biggest hurdle, if you want to call it a hurdle, is getting your race car across the border. I actually drive mine across the border as it has plates on it and is properly registered. I think as long as you have the original registration that is current (paid up) and the matching plates or stickers that you will be okay.

As for driving down the road in Baja you won't be harassed if you're not driving like a donkey. One of the beauties of going down there is that its pretty much the wild west, but don't think that the wild west is a place where you can act out. In the real wild west, if you were an ass they put you in the dirt. So I just remain respectful down there and save the racing for race day on the course.

As for flat towing, the first year I just used one of those el cheapo tow bars you can buy at pep boys or autozone. It comes with brackets you can bolt or weld to the front of your car. They are rated for 5k pounds. My truck is right at 5k and it handled it fine. I think if you were worried about it you could get one and beef it up a little by welding on some extra material and reinforcing the pivot points, etc. Or buy a heavier duty model but those are $400 bucks or so and bulky. Last year I just built my own tow bar out of steel tubing and heim joints, which also works fine but probably in the end isn't much better than the store bought one. It is a little longer and articulates more. Just remember that you can't back up when flat towing, and have some sort of general plan in mind if you wind up doing serious damage to your car in the race how you're going to get it home. There will be plenty of guys down there to help in such a situation and point you in the right direction.

Credit to Mark Stahl for suggesting the tow bar idea, which is what he does too. Sure has made the trip a lot easier every year.
Zambo, why do you drive across the border? My truck is street legal and all that and we just tow it. At the inspection they just want to see the registration to check vin numbers and were in our way. As for the tow bar we made our own for less then $100 It's made from 1 X 3 rectangular tubing with some 1/2 in. plate for the trailer hitch pins that go thru the frame of the truck. We have thick wall tubes welded in the frame and the chase truck has the same mounts just in case. We have complete spare suspension for the race truck in case of a major mishap so we can make the truck roll to get home.
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Zambo

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Hey Mark, I drive the truck down for two reasons....first is just to put a few road miles on it and listen/feel for anything going wrong. Second and more importantly I don't have enough room for everybody to sit in the chase truck!


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