April 27, 2016

Unbelievable Day Three At The 2016 NORRA Mexican 1000, Loreto To La Paz


After rolling over on his lid yesterday, Robert Acer crosses first in La Paz on Day 3.

(Loreto, Baja California): One thing that really sets Baja apart is the diversity found everywhere you go. One minute you are in a rocky, bone dry desert and the next you turn a corner onto a pristine beach with azure blue water. Today, the Mexican 1000 rally took a crazy turn when the overall leader and hands down favorite to win, the Terrible Herbst Landshark Truggy, caught fire on the course. They got out of the car safely but the iconic car was burned rather severely; not a complete loss but enough to put them out of the rally. The brush fire it created stopped the race for 90 minutes while it, and the car, were extinguished. Despite some heavy hearts from many who saw the car after the fire, it did not slow anyone down; there were fierce battles raging in every class. Out front, Robert Acer had one goal in mind, to beat Robby Gordon who has been quiet until today when he had the pedal to the metal. At the line, it was Acer first followed by Gordon, Mark Post and then Jim Bult. Dave Westhem was the next finisher, rounding out the top five.

It’s easy to get caught up in the big, fast, unlimited cars that are battling for the overall win, but many of the fans on the course, and those watching the live feed on the internet, are in love with the vintage and historic cars and trucks in the race. Many of those competitors finish late at night after the cameras have left and the parties are over. “You don’t have to spend one hundred thousand dollars,” says Brian Dague, who is competing in a 1971 Ford F100 with his Brother Dana and their friend LJ Kennedy, “You can build an old Ford and have just as much fun. Today I got to pass Rod Hall and other legends during a race. That’s something really bitchin’ to add to your life’s memory banks.” The #23 Ford was built by Dana who is no stranger to the Mexican 1000 and has restored several historic race trucks. “We have been using IPad Nav with the GPS and it calls out the turns, the race miles, even the dips,” said Dana, “Besides some alternator problems the truck has been perfect. We lost a couple alternators and had one rebuilt in insurgents for 30 bucks by a gentleman that was so happy to help us out.”

The wear and tear of running over four hundred miles on days one and two started to show during today’s run from Loreto to La Paz. “We discovered a broken leaf spring when we got up this morning,” said Brad Lovell, who is racing a 1968 Ford Bronco with Brother Roger in the Vintage Short Wheelbase 4x4 class, “We put hose clamps around it and wrapped it with tape and bailing wire. We checked it after mile 67 and it was holding but noticed the other side was broken too. We wrapped a ratchet strap around it and tape on it too. We went over 200 miles today with broken leaf springs. Our GPS was not working so we were following the dust trail ahead of us. I had a scare when I was at the end of a stage and downshifted the transmission; the truck died. One of the locals ran to his shop and pulled an MSD coil off his own truck and got us going again. We insisted he take our money but just wanted to help; you know how it is down here. When we came into the finish, there was a Bronco club, (Bronco Club of Baja Sur) all lined up that started revving their engines and gave us T-shirts. It was so cool! Roger and I are not getting much sleep but we are having so much fun. We are excited to get to the finish tomorrow but at the same time we don’t want it to end.”

Art Eugenio is usually taking photos during the races but had a chance to ride today in the vintage class 5 unlimited of Bill Hernquist. “I was so busy with the road book and GPS, I didn’t have time to think about much but this car is just like the car my Dad taught me to race in, it brings back a lot of memories,” said Eugenio, “The terrain was incredible, It made me wonder how some of the vintage guys get through there. Bill is an amazing driver, we were going 98% pace trying to make time but I never felt uneasy.”

Usual Photog Art Eugenio helps guide Bill Hernquist across the Baja peninsula while being caught on the other side of the lens.

PJ Jones and Bill Whittington have teamed up to run two UTV’s; one an unlimited and the other a stock RZR. “We have to watch our belt temps on the long straight sections but when it gets twisty, we can fly, “ said Jones, “I got held up by some big trucks during one stage; they don’t like getting passed by a UTV. Mexico is just outstanding. That canyon we went down today was gorgeous, you would think it was the Grand Canyon but then you see that beautiful ocean. It takes a lot of parts to keep us going; I’m glad I own a parts business (PJ’s Performance) but I think we are leading both classes.”

Usual Photog Art Eugenio helps guide Bill Hernquist across the Baja peninsula while being caught on the other side of the lens.

One car that has performed flawlessly during the first three stages is the Car of Ed Maurin. The Woodstuff car was raced by Larry Ragland in the 1980’s. Larry won the Mint 400 race overall in 1986 driving this same car. Larry and Ed drove the car at the Mexican 1000 last year. This year Ed and Rory Ward are taking turns behind the wheel. “We have had no issues, “said Ward, “We need to hold it together tomorrow. We are leading our class and with some luck, hope to take the overall in the Challenger Era.” Literally, the car looks brand new, it’s absolutely beautiful.

Cars Unofficial Top 10 Positions Overall

  1. Jim Bult
  2. David Westhem
  3. Greg DiStefano
  4. Kevin Reardon
  5. Steve Olligies
  6. Mark Post
  7. Gay Smith
  8. Robert Acer
  9. Jogn Gable
  10. Hap Kellogg

In the motorcycle divisions, Ricky Johnson is still holding onto the overall lead but second place Steve Grieb is giving him a run for his money. Third overall is Christopher Hart followed by Mauricio Uribe and Jennifer Morton who is now in the fifth spot. The couple riding tandem, Kevin and Michelle Busch, had a much easier ride today and are actually in the top ten in ninth place. Another competitor was overheard saying how incredible it was to realize they just got passed at speed by a couple riding double. Tomorrow is the final stage heading into the finish in San Jose Del Cabo. Go to and hit the link to live event coverage or click the button below. The cars leave the line at 9:00 am mountain daylight time. You can watch the live streaming video and check out live tracking of your favorite drivers.

Bikes Unofficial Top 10 Positions Overall

  1. Ricky Johnson
  2. Steve Grieb
  3. Christopher Hart
  4. Mauricio Uribe
  5. Jennifer Morton
  6. J. Dean Hilbert
  7. Tibi Imbuzan
  8. Mike Kunz
  9. Kevin/Michelle Busch
  10. Domenic BierOverall bike standings are:





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.