December 18, 2014

NORRA To Bring International Rally Raid Format to North American Via New "Cortez Challenge"
At 2015 General Tire Mexican 1000
-- Sanctioning Body Partners With Two-Time Dakar Winner Darren Skilton --
-- Unique Event Designed As Prelude to Epic 2016 NORRA Cortez Rally --

(Agua Dulce, Calif.): Looking to bring top level, international-style Rally Raid motorsports to North American soil, the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) has announced plans for a new three day “Cortez Rally” event for 2015 to be run in conjunction with next year’s General Tire NORRA Mexican 1000. Competitors can run each race separately, or for enthusiasts seeking to take on a longer trans-Baja Rally Raid experience, the two events can be combined to comprise the aptly named seven-day “Cortez Challenge.”

The Cortez Challenge will start in Mexicali, Baja Mexico and is comprised of three days of competition at the Cortez Rally followed by a rest day that precedes another four days of Mexican 1000 competition.

To aid NORRA in making their expanded vision a world-class reality, the sanctioning body has partnered with Rally Raid veteran Darren Skilton, a two-time winner and former American envoy to the Dakar Rally. In addition, Skilton will serve as NORRA’s official “Rally Master” for the Mexican 1000’s Evolution, Rally Raid and new Historic Trophy classes for 2015 and beyond.

Dakar Rally veteran and two-time winner Darren Skilton has joined the NORRA organization as "Rally Master" for the General Tire Mexican 1000 and the "Cortez Rally." For 2015, entrants can compete in both events back-to-back that comprise the new NORRA "Cortez Challenge."

While NORRA’s highly popular four-day Mexican 1000 run down Baja’s scenic peninsula from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas is the sanctioning body’s main focus, the new Cortez Rally will follow an international style of rally raid competition that includes on-road “transit stages,’ off-road “special sections” and overnight stops. NORRA has perfected this format over the past five years of hosting the Mexican 1000, and for 2015 has introduced changes to its Evolution, Rally Raid and Historic Trophy categories by mandating road book and odometer-only navigation that falls in line with international Rally Raids and future Cortez Rally events.

All motorcycle classes will race on separate starting dates and courses to greatly enhance the level of safety for the two-wheel crowd, and will run road book navigation for both the Mexican 1000 and Cortez Rally.

NORRA’s trademark Vintage truck, car, buggy, and sedan category entrants competing in the Mexican 1000 rally will cover different sections of Baja that are better suited for limited suspension travel and will run using traditional GPS and road book navigation. As has been NORRA tradition, the 2015 rally routes will be kept secret until just prior to the event’s start, with no pre-event course reconnaissance (pre-running) allowed.

Motorcycle and car competitors who wish to take on the Cortez Rally in 2015 will start their adventure in Mexicali April 22nd and will tackle three Dakar-inspired stages that will see the bikes and cars finish in Ensenada April 24th. All Cortez Challenge teams will be pre-registered for both events in Mexicali so they have time to work on their bikes and cars before resuming the Challenge with the start of the Mexican 1000.

This announcement comes in preparation of a new and truly unique motor sports event being planned for 2016, called the NORRA Cortez Rally, which will combine the traditional Mexican 1000 with the first-ever off-road competition that follows the Sea of Cortez north in Mainland Mexico before finishing back in Baja.

“It has always been in my mind that we need a real multi-day, cross-country rally for the off-road racing community,” said Skilton. “Every continent in the world puts on a first class Rally Raid except North America. It’s time to change this. Aspiring Dakar teams from Canada, Mexico and the United States all need an event to fine-tune their cars and bikes, while Dakar dreamers need a cost-effective way to follow their passion. Together with NORRA and my partner Scott Whitney, my goal is to create North America’s premier Rally Raid.”

While NORRA's Vintage classes enjoy much of the spotlight, in 2014, NORRA attracted these two unique Dakar Rally race vehicles to participate in the four-day Mexican 1000 rally. Next year, the Mexican 1000 and Cortez Rally will comprise seven days of on and off-road competition that can be combined as the Cortez Challenge. (Trackside Photos)

For NORRA, today’s announcement for 2015 and 2016 is filled with excitement and promise,” added NORRA President Mike Pearlman. “Now our mission to promote a vintage off-road event is combined with a new way for our Evolution, Rally Raid and Historic Trophy categories to compete at the same time – and in a totally unique and complimentary way.”

“We know the off-road world is ready for something like this,” Pearlman added. “NORRA has been running a rally-style format since our rebirth in 2010, and our intention is to continue producing world-class events that offer our racers hospitality, camaraderie and, most importantly, an adventure based on having fun.”

Known as the “Happiest Race on Earth,” the NORRA Mexican 1000 is scheduled to take place from Saturday, April 25 through Wednesday, April 29, 2015 and will run the length of the Baja peninsula from the seaside city of Ensenada to the land’s end near Cabo San Lucas. In keeping with NORRA’s tradition, registration for the 2015 NORRA Mexican 1000 and Cortez Challenge will open online on New Year’s Day at 12:00 noon (Pacific Standard Time).

2015 NORRA Cortez Challenge -- Dates

April 21:Rally School, Registration and TechMexicali
April 22:Rally Day 1 San Luis Rio Colorado
April 23:Rally Day 2 San Luis Rio Colorado
April 24:Rally Day 3 Ensenada
April 25:Prep and rest day Ensenada
April 26:Rally Day 4 (Mexican 1000 Day 1) Bahia de los Angeles
April 27:Rally Day 5 (Mexican 1000 Day 2) Loreto
April 28:Rally Day 6 (Mexican 1000 Day 3) La Paz
April 29:Rally Day 7 (Mexican 1000 Day 4) San Jose Del Cabo
  • No GPS tracks to be provided
  • No maps
  • No pre-running
  • Competitors can choose to run the Cortez Rally, Cortez Challenge or the Mexican 1000 only.
  • All NORRA Evolution, Rally Raid and Historic Trophy classes will compete under an international rally-raid format beginning in 2015.

The motorcycle crowd is a growing part of NORRA's racing family, representing an integral part of the planning for both the NORRA Cortez Rally and the Mexican 1000. In 2015, NORRA will once again offer an additional measure of rider safety by using a proven format that separates the two and four-wheel competitors as much as possible. (Chris Collard Photo)

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