What’s better than a tour of the Mexican Baja Peninsula? Racing the entire length of it in classic cars at 110 miles per hour off road over a 1000 mile course… of course. The NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally is exactly the ticket if you like the idea of high speeds in the middle of nowhere, without support, in cars that are older than many of the competitors.
The Baja Peninsula is a place full of adventure with a lawless feel and epic desert landscape. Ever since the late 60s there has been a race in the area, but what that race has been called has changed over the years. Currently known as the SCORE Baja 1000, the race started as a hodge podge of cars, trucks and motorcycles in the infancy of off road automotive technology. Over the years new technology has given birth to trophy trucks that are known for their big air jumps and high speeds in the most rough and rugged off road terrain.
Now, starting in 2010, Michael Noval and Mike Pearlman, the nephew and son of Don Francisco and Ed Pearlman, the godfathers of the original race, decided to bring it back to the original roots: their vision was the NORRA Mexican 1000. This race has some distinct modifications from the well known BAJA 1000. First, the vehicles must be from 1989 or before. Second, the course is rally style, intending to test the skill of the drivers instead of the technology of vehicles. The course is considerably less technical than the BAJA 1000, so the real treat with the race is seeing all of the drivers arriving in all kinds of beautifully restored and modified classics from Edsels to classic Ford Broncos. Whether competing or just heading south of the border to watch the race, it is an epic recreation of the original and a true walk through history.
I raced a 1968 Ford Bronco with my good friend Chad Niernberg at the inaugural 2010 race. I have put together a selection of photos below, but you can see even more on my website at www.stevenshoppman.com.