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Get ready for the mighty Mexico 1000
Old cars, epic scenery and an emphasis on fun, TG's flown to Mexico to experience it
You join us in Ensenada, Mexico. Where, tomorrow morning, 200-ish cars, trucks, buggies, truggies, UTVs, bikes and pretty much anything else that wants to scramble over Baja’s boulderous terrain will point their wheels southbound and blast down the peninsula.
But this isn’t the famously unforgiving Baja 1000. We’ve been there and done that. It hurt. And those deep-tissue scars have only just healed. So this time we’re taking it a bit easier, by covering a potential hidden gem of the motorsport world: the NORRA Mexico 1000.
The Mexico 1000 was actually the original race down Baja. Conceived by a chap named Ed Pearlman back in the late Sixties, he wanted to show that four wheels were better than two at smashing it from the tip to the toe of this estranged finger of land.
In 1967, Ed set up the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) in order to sanction a race that allowed him and 60 of his mates to race from Ensenada to La Paz. There was one stipulation: each entrant had to throw one hundred bucks into a pot to be spent on the mother of all parties at the finish.
This happened annually for a few years, until SCORE (another race organiser), took control of the event in 1973 and made it into what we now call the Baja 1000.
As we found out, the Baja 1000 is now a very serious event. With around 1.5 million coming out to watch it, it’s the biggest single sporting event in the country. The racing is also incredibly cutthroat – which can be a fun sponge of sorts.
See, chasing every last tenth, beefing with other competitors and trying to sniff out cheaters can take the enjoyment out of off-roading. That’s why in 2010, Mike Pearlman – son of Ed – put some sticky defibrillator pads on his Dad’s NORRA Mexico 1000 and brought it back to life.
He had one goal: fun. So instead of being a flat-out point-to-point race, the NORRA breaks the 1,400-mile route up into four legs in order to celebrate the history of off-roading.
It starts in Ensenada, before snaking to Bahiah De Los Angeles, down the east coast to Loreto, on to La Paz before the chequered flag and kazoos come out at San Jose Del Cabo. It’s still against the clock, and there’s silverware to be won, but not in such a fighty way as its other Baja brother. Plus, at the end of each stage there’s a massive party. Just like old times.
The four-wheeled entry list is also pretty spectacular. Being more affordable than most races, and with a spectrum of cars that spans half a century, there’s a proper mish-mash of awesome machinery duking it out against Mexico’s maddest rough stuff. We’ll give you a full guide to all the cars tomorrow, so pop back when you can.
For the event, we’re chasing the nomex coattails of the Gentlemen’s Guide To Racing. They’re a team of racers that’s spearheaded by two Brits and are going about racing the right way.
They’re trying to redefine what it means to be a modern day gentleman racer, while inspiring people from all backgrounds to go out and get behind the wheel of competitive cars – all while having a laugh doing it. It sounds right up our street. So once we’ve been initiated properly (which may or may not include tequila), we’ll bring you their full story.
For now, we’ll keep you guessing as to what they’ll be racing. Let’s just say it’s proper. And if all the official paperwork goes through, we’ll be riding shotgun at points – chowing down on nothing but dust and in charge of god knows how many radio channels and an utterly befuddling sat nav system.
So stay tuned for updates from the road. We’ll try our best to keep you in the loop as to what’s going on over the first few stages, but bear with us, as the desert isn’t known for its 4G signal strength and things are known to get a bit crazy around here. Wish us luck!