May 7, 2018 (Agua Dulce, Calif.): The 2018 Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000 presented by Method Race Wheels was bigger and better than ever. 245 competitors on 2 wheels and 4 accepted the challenge of traversing the length of the Baja Peninsula. The NORRA Mexican 1000 honors the past, while forging the future by grouping competitors according to the different eras of offroad racing. Each era has a commemorative trophy awarded to the winner that pays tribute to an icon of the sport. The Pioneer Era trophy (1967-1975) honors Steve McQueen. The legends Era trophy (1976-1982) honors Frank “Scoop” Vessels. The Challenger Era (1983-1988) honors Manny Esquerra. The Vintage Era (1986-20 years old) honors Corky McMillin. The Historic Era (Must be at least 20 years old) honors Nye Frank. The Evolution Era (Modern cars and UTV’s) honors Larry Plank, and the Motos trophy honors Danny Hamel. Not only are teams competing for a class win, but they all want to get their hands on an era trophy.
(ALL PHOTOS: BINK DESIGNS)
Another unique feature of the Mexican 1000 is its rally format. Instead of flying down the peninsula at a frantic pace, each day has an overnight stay at a unique location where competitors have a chance to take in the sights, get a great meal, and prepare for the next day’s stage. Thanks to Cerveceria Transpeninsular, ice cold “Baja Blonde” beer, in special Yokohama cans, was available at the finish line each day. Cerveceria Transpeninsular is so particular about their beers that they drove a refrigerated truck the entire way to make sure their beer was perfect. Days one and two were spent in Ensenada getting all the vehicles through technical inspection and training the teams to use the AlerTraX system which tracks the vehicles through the Iridium satellite network. For the drivers/riders, the RaceTraX displays pass request notification, virtual check point indicators, speed zone indicators with posted and actual speed comparison. It’s amazing technology that helps to make the Mexican 1000 “The Happiest Race On Earth!”.
The first day of competition had the 2 and 4 wheeled competitors both travelling from Ensenada, on the Pacific Coast, to the fishing village of San Felipe on the Gulf of Mexico. There was 162 miles of timed special stages, 31 miles of transit, which is off the clock, for a total of 193 miles. It was a good chance to knock the dust off of some of the drivers, and put some dust on the cars, trucks, and motorcycles competing. Day 2 of racing had the bikes split off and run a total of 265 miles to Guerrero Negro, and the cars went south to Bay Of Los Angeles, 220 miles in total. The competition was hot on day one. On day two, the desert started to take its toll. Some teams had to do a little extra work after the stage. It is a fun race with plenty of parties and fun events along the way, but it’s also a challenge; Baja is as tough as it is beautiful.
Day three was the toughest. Both bikes and cars would meet up at the end of the day in Loreto. The bikes would run 346 miles, the cars would do 438. Not only was the distance great, but the silt beds took a toll on many. The silt is very fine sand that has a consistency of talcum powder. It clogs filters, grinds metal into submission, and is like quicksand for cars and bikes. If you keep moving, it feels like you are floating on air. If you stop, it can take hours to get free. To make matters worse, once it gets kicked up, it creates a blinding wall of dirt. Everyone in Loreto that night earned it!
After day three some might have felt invincible but there were still many miles to go. Day four had a course for the bikes that travelled 283 miles to LaPaz. The cars wound up in LaPaz as well, but they drove a little farther at 337 miles. That final night of pre-race preparation for day five took place that night. Some teams were still running strong; others were having to dig into their bag of tricks and use some Baja ingenuity to patch their cars or bikes together. At each stop along the way, the local taco stands, and the repair shops were packed with racers. The final day might have seemed short at only 181 miles for both cars and bikes, but the final stage still dished out plenty of challenges. Several positions were swapped in the closing miles of the rally. The goal is always to get everyone to San Jose Del Cabo for the big celebration, so teams who could not finish in their race vehicles will most times continue on in order to take part in all the fun.
After celebrating on the finish line everyone was able to get a good night’s sleep before the best party of the event took place. The very first adventurers who attempted to break the record down the peninsula would celebrate the feat with a party in Cabo and that tradition continues today. The awards ceremony at Club Campestre San Jose on Friday had live Classic Rock played by the Top Catz, 4 food stations catered by Rogerio Ampudia of Stella Cucina al Forno Cabo, 4 bar stations, and 4 beer and margarita stations to serve everyone. More “Baja Blonde” beer from Cerveceria Transpeninsular was on hand as well as wine from Roganto courtesy of STEEL-IT. The ceremony also included sponsor giveaways, additional sponsor trophies, and awards. Title sponsors Yokohama, and Method Race Wheels played an integral part along with official sponsors South Point, Walker Evans Wheels and Shocks, STEEL-IT, Multitool USA, Rigid Industries, VP Racing Fuel, Bilstein, Timberline, and Proturismo De Ensenada. Our Era winners are Pioneer Boyd Jaynes, Legends Mark Stahl, Challenger Spencer Low, Vintage Ryan Arciero, Historic and Overall winner Mark Post, Evolution Greg DiStefano, and Moto Steve Hengeveld. The incredible evening was then capped off with a fireworks show on the beach. Some will head back home, while others plan fishing trips or spend a couple days meandering around the Peninsula. The NORRA Mexican 1000 is the adventure of a lifetime, and many don’t want it to end. The stories of this year’s race will be inspiration for those who participated to return next year, and hopefully serve as motivation for others to join in on the fun. For complete results from each stage, go to norra.com. You can also find tons of information about the rally and how you can participate.