Photos: Durka Durka Photo
On October 11, just eight days from now, over 100 off road cars, buggies, trucks, bikes – even an ATC – will take the green flag to start the 2019 NORRA 500. The NORRA 500 is similar, but different, than the famed NORRA Mexican 1000.
While the Mexican 1000 takes place over five days and starts in Ensenada and finishes in San Jose del Cabo, the NORRA 500 is a two day race that starts and finishes in Ensenada both days. Each day will consist of approximately 250 miles. One day the cars will race into the pine forest, a unique area of Baja, and the other day they will race down the Pacific Coast – one of the most beautiful sections of the Baja Peninsula.
While cars and trucks will race on one loop, the bikes will race the other loop, and they will swap on day two. Personally, I think it is a great idea and it keeps all of the participants safer eliminating the chance of a car or truck making contact with a dirtbike. NORRA President and CEO Mike Pearlman commented on the separate loops, ” I made a rule, we work really hard at it, but no car will ever touch a bike again. Safety is very important to us.”
The NORRA 500 also features a race within the race for the first time – The NORRA 500 King of the Mountain. The King of the Mountain is a sub race of sorts for the racer with the fastest time from Highway 3 to Mike’s Sky Rancho. Mike’s Sky Rancho has been part of Baja racing for over 50 years and was a checkpoint for the original NORRA Mexican 1000.
NORRA races are not just about racing though. The 500 will span 4 days including Technical Inspection on Thursday Oct. 10, nightly fiestas with drinks and an awards ceremony and buffet on Sunday the 13th.
Trophy Truck driver and NORRA racer Zak Langley of the COPS racing team enjoys NORRA and how the format promotes camaraderie with other drivers. “I love the NORRA format” Zak said. “The rally format lets us race hard, but at the end of the day the guys you just raced against are there and you end up talking all about what happened that day on the course.” The Cops team will be racing three trucks at the 500.
4 time NORRA 1000 (Vintage Class 5) winner Bill Hernquist is bringing his new racecar. “I enjoy the race, the rally format is a lot of fun” Bill said. “The rally format allows me to spend time with my team and crew, working on the car, racing and hanging out. What I enjoy most is the strategy of it, the game. There is so much to this game on how you play it. Timing, how you start, when to stage, it really makes it a lot of fun. It comes down to how you stage and where you are in the lineup.”
There is still time to sign up for and race the NORRA 500. Online registration will close on Sunday Oct. 6, but you can also sign up in person at Tech in front of the Riviera Convention Center in Ensenada on Thursday Oct. 10.
Visit NORRA at www.norra.com