April 25, 2016

First Stages of NORRA Mexican 1000 Test Competitors


(Bahía de Los Ángeles, Baja California): The opening stages of the NORRA Mexican 1000 were like beauty and the beast for competitors. Both the bikes, and the four wheeled competitors ran along the Pacific Coast; taking in spectacular scenery. The ocean contributed to the show with huge surf that crashed onto the jagged coastline. Just off shore, whales could be seen breaching out of the water. Much of the coast section runs along towering cliffs that drop to the surf below, but drivers got a chance to dip their treads into the water as they ran right on the sand in some spots. Don’t think that it was all fun in the sun; the beast would be found on the second half of the 456 mile long course. As they turned east and crossed the width of the peninsula on their way to the Bay of LA, there was plenty of silt and whoops to endure.

“That section where the Trophy Trucks have been running for the last ten years was not the place to take back time; I think my neck is broken,” said Mark McMillin jokingly. He was racing “Macadu” the 1979 Porsche powered Chenowth that took him to many Baja wins in the late seventies and early eighties. Mark may have been commenting about how rough it was but he was already at the finish line relaxing with a margarita in hand while much newer and more technically advanced cars and trucks were still coming across the line. He’s still a master in the dirt; even in a vintage era, beamed front end buggy.

Mark wasn’t the only one talking about how rough it was. “Lightning” Larry Ragland was the first across the line driving Jimmy Smith’s Ultra Wheels car. “The young guy over there beat me on time,” said Ragland, pointing towards the younger Pierce Herbst who is only 14 years old, “We tried to hold him off but we could have used some more wheel travel.” No Trophy Truck driver, especially one as accomplished as Lightning Larry, will ever be satisfied with the wheel travel on a transaxle car.

“We've been driving all day,” said Herbst, “We had no flats; we didn’t even get out of the car. There is not much to do on the truck tonight.” When asked if he had some good battles during the day he replied that it was a good day and was really fun. Ed Herbst was piloting the number 3 truck of Mark Post. “We were running in the top three but I missed a corner,” said Herbst, “When I spun around, it was dusty and I slipped into a deep rain rut. It seemed like an hour before we got out. It’s all good, we had a fun day.”

Steve Olliges had a good showing in the Zorro truck. Steve’s truck usually has a huge FOX shocks logo on the side. Apparently, Zorro means fox in Spanish so they put a special wrap on for the Mexican 1000. “It was a great day,” said Olliges, “It was left, right; you had to be on your toes all the way. It was very technical. We were chasing the Herbst Truggy and Apdaly (Lopez). There were some penalty zones so we’ll have to see how that plays out, but the truck ran perfectly today.”

Greg DiStefano admitted he was playing it safe. “We just kept moving all day,” said DiStefano “I have a great navigator. He was amazing and didn’t miss a thing. It takes patience. We want to win but you have to finish. I wanted to huck it sideways in some of those sweeping corners but there were some big holes out there. We saw trucks stuck in those holes! There was a lot of whoops and silt too.”

Jonathan Brenthel had a great day behind the wheel of his Brenthel Industries class one car. “It was fast, it was fun,” said Brenthel, “We had a few little issues but overall it was really exciting. We never got passed. We started 27th and finished 6th over the line.”

Notably absent at the finish line was Walker Evans who broke something and is coming in on a trailer tonight and Robby Gordon who had a pin come out in his axle, causing the splines to twist. It took him 4 hours to clean it out and put it in the other way. He was able to continue on and finish the day. He wasn't tracking today but we have his official times, and he will be racing tomorrow. Penalties need to be assessed so all results are un-official at this point but here is the way the top 11 will start tomorrow based on corrected time.

  1. 119- Herbst
  2. 100- Smith
  3. 72- Acer
  4. 7- Bult
  5. 803- Westhem
  6. 5- Clyde Stacy
  7. 56- DiStefano
  8. 827- Olliges
  9. 8173- Brenthel
  10. 34- Losch
  11. 1515- Reardon

The bikes started racing on Saturday so they have a full other day under their belts. It was no surprise that after stage one, Steve Hengeveld was the leader; he has won the overall before. What was surprising was that he blew an engine on stage two. That left Ricky Johnson at the top of the leader board. RJ’s bike credentials are second to none but what many thought was just a fun run for RJ has turned into a great chance for Ricky to get his name on another trophy. Also noteworthy is Jennifer Morton. Our only female bike rider is currently running in the top 10 after two days of riding. Sixth place belongs to Ed Price a 50+ Vintage Dude and fellow 50+ rider Kevin Busch is in seventh place. The highest placed triumph rider is Julian Heppekausen on a 1966 Triumph T120 in 14th place. Results are as follows:

  1. 48- Ricky Johnson modern open
  2. 320- Steve Grieb modern open
  3. 727- Darell Pitts modern open
  4. 212- Mark Jenkins modern open
  5. 99- Christopher Hart modern open
  6. 4- Edd Price 50+ Vintage Dudes
  7. 2112- Kevin Busch 50+ Vintage Dudes
  8. 707- Tibi Imbuzan Modern Open
  9. 10- Jennifer Morton Modern Lites
  10. 35- Mauricio Uribe Modern Open

Bikes started from Mama Espinosa's yesterday.

The thousands of fans who lined the race course, and those who watched the highly entertaining live feed all day, were treated to some incredible action and amazing looking historic vehicles at speed, in the dirt like they should be. Today they will head back across to the Pacific coast before zig zagging across the peninsula as they travel 435 miles south to Loreto. If you missed it on day one, go to and hit the link to live event coverage. The cars leave the line at 9:30 am mountain daylight time. You can watch the live streaming video and check out live tracking of your favorite drivers. Don’t miss a minute of the action!




Beginning in 2010, the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) began promoting a rebirth of the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally. The unique off-road rally was co-created by promoter Mike Pearlman to consist of special stages (unlimited speed timed stages in the dirt) linked together by controlled speed liaison / transit sections (highway). The one-of-a-kind, once-a-year, four-day rally includes vintage off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rally cars, a limited group of modern desert racecars and classes for prerunner trucks and buggies.

Pearlman’s late father Ed and others established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November of 1967, which eventually became internationally recognized and evolved into the Baja 1000 in the mid-1970s.

The NORRA Mexican 1000 is supported by American Racing Wheel, South Point Hotel Casino, Walker Evans Racing, Azunia Tequila, KC HiLites, Bilstein Shock Absorbers and Mastercraft/Impact Safety.