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So Close, But So Far Away for NORRA Mexican 1000 Competitors on Final Stage

norra mexican

Competitors who are still running for the final stage of the 2024 NORRA Mexican 1000 experience a strange mix of feelings between wanting to get to the finish and wanting it to never end. The course had fast roads, but when the speed goes up, so does the danger. The closer it gets to San Jose Del Cabo, the tighter and more technical it becomes.

Bryce Menzies confirmed this at the finish line. He said his Dad hates the tight twisty stuff coming into town so he put Bryce in the truck. What a luxury for Steve Menzies to have. Matthew Legg said there were corners where he had to do a three point turn to get around. Even Larry Roeseler mentioned the pea gravel roads being as slick as ice so you have to take it easy. Just think what it must be like on a bike.

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Speaking of the bikes, their race for the overall had everyone mesmerized for the entire week. Two-time defending champion Matt Sutherland was locked into a battle with Alexander Smith the entire way. Smith won three of the seven special stages but was unable to overtake Sutherland who captured his third straight overall win in a row. Sutherland commented that this year’s course designed by Jimmy Lewis was very technical. He played a cat and mouse game all week with Smith and was glad to be at the final finish line with his third straight win.

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Ducati had a lot riding on Alexander Smith’s shoulders and he delivered. “We are delighted to celebrate Alexander Smith and the team’s remarkable achievement in the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally on the DesertX Rally,” expressed Jason Chinnock, Chief Executive Officer at Ducati North America. This is a fantastic result for us as we continue to explore our performance off-road. We have a lot of data to review to discuss how we win next time, but right now, it’s time to celebrate. His performance and intelligence not only underscore the power and precision of Ducati motorcycles but also fill us with pride and admiration for his success.”

Sharing the podium with Sutherland and Smith in third place overall was Amateur Rally class winner Alex Ritz. He was fast and consistent all week and pushed the pace for all the other competitors. “It was an honor to ride behind these guys,” said Ritz. “This is really cool for my first rally and my first time at NORRA.” Ritz practiced for 6 months on using road books. He said he rides in Mexico a lot and the trails that Jimmy has connected together and the places they were riding were amazing.

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Next across the line was winner of the 60+ class Larry Engwall. He loved the fact that the course allowed him to haul, um, donkey. Eric Simensen won the 50+ class and said he had high expectations and his expectations were exceeded. “Jimmy made it hard!” The level of competition is really heating up and the road book navigation has brought out some serious riders who want the ultimate challenge. Jimmy Lewis’ bike only course went places that cars are not even allowed. Even the experienced Baja racers commented that they had never seen some of those areas. Ducati is already talking about coming back, who else will challenge Matt Sutherland next year?

The Menzies truck was first to finish for their third overall win in a row. When you can come out on top of “Mr. Baja” Larry Roeseler you know you’ve done something. Roeseler and the VMC racing crew of Kevin Murphy made team Menzies earn it. Larry discovered that Bryce took over driving for Steve somewhere for the final special stage and commented “No wonder I couldn’t catch him. Larry’s comment about the race, “It was Tough.”

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Dave Mason Jr. was the third car across the line. He has won the NORRA 500, but this is the first time they have finished the Mexican 1000 in three attempts. He finished third overall and won the Evolution Unlimited Buggy class. Dave had his 11 week old son in his lap and was already talking about him becoming a Baja racing champion when he grows up.

From a future racer to an icon; Larry Ragland won the Historic Truck and Truggy class. Larry had the best line ever when Pam Hall asked him if he had anyone he wanted to thank for getting him here. Larry said “You don’t have enough time for that.” It was incredible for the fans to see Larry behind the wheel of his truck Arnold again. He said they know the truck more than they know him. Larry has always been such a humble man, even while crushing his competition. He is a Baja icon.

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Wayne Matlock had a flawless race which he was frankly overdue. To top it off he was in a basically stock Polaris RZR Pro R. He commented that it still had the factory radio in it. The debate of who’s faster the UTV’s or the class 10 cars goes on. Eric Duran finished second overall in his Alumicraft Class 10 car. Justin Lambert and son Jaxx were third overall in Evolution Pro 2000 UTV/Class 10.

Another Father and Son team were not as successful, but will not be defeated. Sean Barber and Son Owen finished second place last year, but suffered a roll over in their Legend 4x4s class International Scout Terra. “We are ok, said Sean. “Owen and I are thankful for Brian and Arnie #737 for helping us in our time of need and all the racers who helped and sent messages. It was a simple 10-12″ wheel placement error in a spot where there was little room for error. I’m learning that that’s racing. One of a 1000 little right or wrong adjustments which normally we just drive out of. We’re down but will rebuild and return!”

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The spirit that everyone has exists in boatloads. At the finish line Brad Bauder was beaming. He said “We had one chase truck, six tires, four dudes and some fuel. We used all our tires, burned all our fuel, we got nothing left.” Now it’s time to celebrate the adventure and pay tribute to those who excelled. The awards celebration will be the perfect cap on an amazing race.

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 you join NORRA in Baja. NORRA events honor the past, while forging the future. Don’t miss out on the fun and action.

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