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Day One Of The NORRA Mexican 1000 Delivers Incredible First Look

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Day one of the 2024 NORRA Mexican 1000 began in Ensenada with an incredible array of race vehicles on display at contingency. It’s only the first day of two for Bilstein tech inspection before the teams head out for 6 days and 1371 miles of rally style stage racing that will take them all the way down the Baja Peninsula. There was everything from vintage race vehicles like the 1968 Funco Wampuskitty of Timothy Martin and Aaron Belchere that races in the pioneer era, to the Scarbo SV Rover of Joseph Scarbo and Riley Robbins with it’s crazy pushrod shock set-up that’s racing in the Ultra4 category of the Evolution Era. The Wampuskitty has its own unique suspension design with center pivot arms in the front.

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There were early broncos with license plates and the brand new unlimited truck built by the HP Helicopters team that was only finished last month. The truck was designed and built entirely in-house by the team. No mention of Broncos would be complete without talking about Caballo Del Diablo. Boyd Jaynes’ Early Bronco has won 9 out of 11 trips down the peninsula; an incredible record. Boyd isn’t the only one looking for more NORRA gold. After a DNF (did not finish) in 2021, Steve Menzies has taken the overall win in 2022 and 23. He is going for three in a row this year in his state of the art Mason all-wheel drive truck. He has an all-star crew as well featuring Oren Anderson, Jesse Jones, Son Bryce Menzies, Todd Tenbroek and Willie Valdez Jr. It won’t be easy though. He has to contend with not only the rest of the unlimited truck field but also a stacked field of Unlimited Buggy class drivers which includes Dave Mason, Butch Jensen, Beau Johnson, Greg Goltz, Bill Zemak, Greg DiStefano, Kevin Reardon, Christian Weber, Pat Dean and Charlie Peltzer. Also in that mix will be the 6100 trucks, Heavy Metal and the fast unlimited prerunner buggies and trucks.

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The fight for the overall is going to be intense, but we also have an incredible battle in the Historic Era Truck category that may consume the race for the overall. The Black Diamond of Mark Post is back. Mark is always a threat for the overall win, but he will be locked into a battle this year with two other iconic trucks. First is the number 80 named Arnold of Larry Ragland. Ragland just finished the restoration of the truck that has won the Baja 1000 four times. Also racing is the former Simon & Simon number 16 of Pedro Perezpliego. The Russ Wernimont built truck has a secret weapon in co-driver Carson Wernimont. Carson is an accomplished driver who has off road racing in his blood.

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Bilstein Tech Inspection at the Mexican 1000 is always a rolling museum and sensory overload for every racing enthusiast. Part of that overload is from all the hand painted artwork on the restored race cars and the incredible graphics on their more modern counterparts. The Tormenta race team looked especially incredible with their two race UTV’s and matching team truck. When it comes to graphics, the Speed UTV cars are at the top. The colors and patterns are so bold and creative, just when you think you’ve seen them all another car will pop up in a unique color that’s never been seen. The UTV classes are so competitive that the UTV Pro Turbo & Pro 2000 UTV / Class 10 competitors will qualify for day one starting positions on Saturday. The two classes will each be racing for 10 thousand dollars in prize money so every bit of the race will be crucial to their effort.

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The competition will be fierce in every Era and every class. New for this year is the “Leyenda De La Baja” trophy presented by the Off-Road Motorsports Hall Of Fame (ORMHOF). The “Leyenda De La Baja” trophy will be awarded not to a driver, but to a historically significant race vehicle that finishes the epic Mexican 1000. NORRA’s founder Ed Pearlman created ORMHOF in 1978 to recognize and honor those who had greatly contributed to the sport of Off Road racing. Be sure to stop by Mack Johnson’s Classic Car Round-Up. Mack has assembled cars from the Pioneer, Legends, Challenger and Vintage eras of off road racing that demonstrate the different classes and concepts that have evolved over the years. He will have signage that describes the different classes and living, racing examples right there to study. All those categories are eligible for the “Leyenda De La Baja” Trophy. Bilstein also awards the coveted “Madonna” award The Madonna award is given to “an individual who wins a championship in a major American racing series, displays sportsmanship and positive character traits on and off the track, and possesses an intense desire to win while overcoming adversities.” Off-road racing champions such as Ivan “Ironman” Stewart, Mark McMillin, and Mark Stahl, have all been past recipients of the Madonna.

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The competition for prize money and trophies will be tough, but NORRA has even more for fans of Baja racing. The Meyers Manx Safari Expedition has just as much diversity when it comes to entries. Modern prerunners, Meyers Manx’s, Jeeps, Raptors, even a Mercedes G wagon and INEOS Grenadier are coming. The Safari is open to all street legal vehicles. They follow the race down the peninsula but also take in many sights and soak up the culture found along the way. The Mexican 1000 stops at a different town every night so competitors and Safari participants become familiar with everything Baja has to offer. You don’t need a race car to be a part of the NORRA Mexican 1000.

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Stay tuned for daily reports every day and check out the live feed broadcast on the NORRA YouTube page and on Facebook. After experiencing the Mexican 1000 just once, you too will be hooked. Everything you need to know about the Mexican 1000 and NORRA 500 can be found at https://norra.com Go to the site and find out for yourself why NORRA has exploded in popularity. You can experience the same wonder and sense of achievement those pioneering thrill seekers sought in 1967 when NORRA created sanctioned off road racing in Baja. Don’t miss out on the prizes, competition and Baja experience found at all NORRA events.

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