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UTV Qualifying Goes To The Max At NORRA Mexican 1000

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While the celebration continues during day two of contingency for the NORRA Mexican 1000 in downtown Ensenada, the UTV Pro Turbo & Pro 2000 UTV / Class 10 competitors were qualifying for starting positions at Rancho Nelson just outside the city. With 20 thousand dollars in prize money up for grabs, the intensity was high and the drivers were pushing hard to get a top starting position. Some took the more cerebral approach and held back on their aggression. After all, there are 1371 miles that still need to be covered over six full days of competition. Others were more willing to let it rip. We saw lots of two wheeled antics in the turns, a couple roll overs and plenty of big time air over the jumps found at Rancho Nelson. Most who crashed simply dusted off their cars and egos after suffering little to no damage, but Benjamin Button did tear a front corner off his Can Am. Both he and his co-driver were OK which is everyone’s biggest concern. It looked like something that can easily be fixed with a little work. Despite the setback they were all smiles. This is part of the adventure of off road racing and builds the comradery that every team needs when the going gets tough.

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The driver that took the top spot and the highlight of the day was Max Gordon. Max flew off the big jump sideways as if he was doing a whip and did everything possible to keep from rolling after a hard landing. The most amazing part of this is that it didn’t slow him down for even a second. He made it look easy, but anyone who’s ever gone that far over the edge was clearly impressed. That’s the kind of driving that is credited to natural ability and can’t be taught.

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Others who possess that type of talent and refused to give Max any leeway were the top ten qualifiers that surrounded him. Second fastest was Thomas Purcell who is always found out front. The gap between first to second place was just over 5 seconds. The gap between second place Purcell and third place Beau Briggs however was only 32 tenths of a second. Fourth place Nick McPhee was less than a minute behind Briggs and fifth place Robby Gordon was less than a minute behind McPhee. In sixth place was one of two class 10 cars racing in the Pro 2000 class. Eric Duran had a great run to land in the top ten. Seventh fastest was Jake Versey followed by defending UTV overall champion Kristen Matlock in eighth. Bob Briggs was ninth place and Wayne Matlock in tenth. Interestingly we have Max and Robby Gordon, Beau and Bob Briggs and Kristen and Wayne Matlock all in the top ten. We talk about the NORRA family a lot and it’s manifested in many different ways.

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This first glimpse of the UTVs in action set the stage for what happens over the next week. Those who ran fast clearly have the speed, but we’ll see who has the stamina and fortitude needed to come out on top. NORRA is much more than simply a speed contest. It challenges every bit of strategy, skill, mechanical prowess and driving talent imaginable. It’s not “pin it to win it,” it’s about being consistently fast, overcoming challenges and racing with precision. It is entirely different than all other events in Baja. That’s why people who love competition are drawn to it. The celebrations and experiences along the way are just icing on the cake.

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Speaking of celebrations, those who were not grinding it out at Rancho Nelson were doing last minute preparations or enjoying all the sights and sounds at day two of contingency. There was the interesting history lesson found at Mack Johnson’s Classic Car Round-Up, great food at the BILSTEIN Mexican 1000 Welcome Fiesta and plenty of incredible vehicles that were still filing through.

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The list of off road icons, characters and notables present was mind boggling. Winnie Meyers is traveling down with the Manx contingent; riding with Mike Dario and Scott Bussard in a 2016 Meyers Manx Dual Sport Baja Edition. Typical attendees like Larry Ragland, Ed Herbst, Steve Montana, Mark Post, Lyman Scherer, John Kieslich, Justin Dawes, Boyd Jaynes, Rhys Millen, Jon Steinhilber, Jim Greenway, Rich Minga, Matt Sutherland, Sol Saltzman, Dave Westhem, Randy Salmont, Robby Gordon, Dave Mason Jr, Steve Barlow, Larry Roeseler, Jesse Jones, Bryce Menzies, Tom Bird, Zak Langley, Pat Dean, Lyle Tonelli, Our Grand Marshals Randy and Ronny Wilson, the DuTemple’s Travis, Dylan and Mike, Rick Hurricane Johnson, Austin “fish” Farner, Eli Yee, Alexander Smith; it goes on and on, just look at the entry list. There are countless more we could mention. Even the G.O.A.T. Rob Mac is racing the Jimco Fastball truck with Bobby Patton and Barry Karakas. They all hold the same abilities to stand the test of time and to overcome all the challenges that make off road racing the pinnacle of motorsports. NORRA is the place they want to be.

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Day one of racing commences in the morning and everyone is anticipating the outcome. Who will take the early lead? Who will be trying to overcome the greatest challenge? Who will be having the most fun? The answer to the last question is everyone; including the fans. Don’t miss the NORRA live feed coverage on Facebook and YouTube. Check the schedule at www.norra.com. Everything else you need to know about the Mexican 1000 and NORRA 500 can be found there. Go to the site and find out for yourself why NORRA has exploded in popularity. Don’t miss out on the prizes, competition and total Baja racing experience found at all NORRA events.