April 24, 2017 (Agua Dulce, Calif.): Day 1 of racing kicked off at the 50th anniversary of the NORRA Mexican 1000. Today’s course that travelled from Ensenada to San Felipe had a little bit of everything. Even before the bikes and cars left the line there was an incredible atmosphere. Watching every type and year of vehicle approach the line was a treat for anyone who loves offroad racing. So many unique vehicles compete in the Mexican 1000. Interesting bikes included the sidecar entry of Chris Kemp with monkey Joe Delucie, and the couple riding double again this year, Kevin and Michelle Busch.


As the #1 FLYER Light Strike Vehicle of Brian Trotter pulled off the line he came to a stop. That’s when you noticed a strap attached to the #22 FLYER Light Strike Vehicle of Robert Blanton. Trotter had to wait until it was Blanton’s time to start so Mike Pearlman walked in front of Trotter to wave the green flag for both cars. “We had catastrophic transmission failure on Thursday but we came anyways,” says Blanton, “We are truly one for 22 now!” 1 and 22 signify the amount of military members that take their own lives every day; 1 active duty and 22 vets. The pair of Flyer military vehicles are bringing attention to the terrible problem that exists for our military members who have difficulties coping with injuries and returning to society. It seems they are also exemplifying the military credo of “leave no man behind.” Also having trouble with the transmission was the Method Race Wheels F-100 but they will have the truck ready to go in the morning for day 2.

The first part of the course was technical but fun with lots of dust. The dust and tricky mountain trails took a toll on a few. The stock Volkswagen of Greg Piraino slipped off the edge of the road and was stuck there until the Sweep crew came along to pull him back to safety. Also falling victim to the dust was Kash Vessels and Kevin Murphy who were in Shane Earn’s beautiful new 6100 truck. They went a little wide in a turn and fell into a hole. “I had to relieve Kash of driving duties today due to lack of talent,” says Earn, “We got going after 40 minutes; the truck has a bent tie rod but is fine. We are having a wonderful time.” "The Happiest Race On Earth!” is all about having fun, sometimes at your friend’s expense. Everyone knows that Vessels has tons of talent, but Earn could not pass up the chance to razz him a little.

The 1969 Ford Bronco of Andrew Norton broke a brand new steering box after only 8 miles in the dirt but his seasoned crew had him back on the road in no time. The General Tire class 5 team of Bill Hernquist had no problems besides the tough competition. “We had lots of fun and no problems but the class 5’s were gittin it today,” said Hernquist, “It was technical and rocky in the canyons but really fast. I was skeptical of the Stella system but not after today; it worked really well. It allowed us to make a safe pass on another car that could have been dangerous without Stella.” Hernquist has won the Mexican 1000 3 times and finished 2nd last year. He is looking to get back to the top of the podium this year.

For all the difficulties that plagued some teams, there was also plenty of success. Palapa Boy Racing got a 10:00 minute penalty for arriving early at check 13. Their beautifully restored former Spencer Low Nissan 4x4 race truck is apparently too fast. Interestingly, Spencer Low is also competing in Challenger Trucks with a 1988 Nissan King Cab. Ed Maurin and Rory Ward had a solid day racing in the former Larry Ragland Woodstuff Porsche powered car. According to Ward, the rear suspension was gone through by Collins Motorsports and the car has never handled better. He and “Fast Eddie” are excited about the rest of the rally. Another famous race car competing this year is Bob Gordon’s former class one car. Frank Arciero Jr. was behind the wheel with Robyn Gordon and Sean Hogland co-riding. “I Held back too many tears today,” said Robyn, “Words cannot express how much this race means to our family and how much we appreciate all the hard work it took for it to be possible. My dad's best friends and teammates will race his car down the Baja peninsula in his honor and hopefully come back with another win with 'ol Betsy. We all know he is looking down and smiling and making sure everyone comes home safe. No one loved Baja more than him. He would be extremely proud of us being 10th overall and first in class against the Trophy Trucks and prerunners.”

Countless other stories are being told about the day’s happenings, these are merely a few. On day 2, they will travel south to Bay Of Los Angeles through some spectacular Baja scenery. Be sure to follow the tracking and live feed so you can be a part of the action. You can find the live feed here: There will also be daily race reports that include personal quotes from competitors and insider information from people on the ground. The nightly race report, and additional information about NORRA, can be found here:



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, as well as modern desert Rally Raid cars, pre-runner trucks, buggies and motorcycles.

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-1970's.

The 2017 NORRA Mexican 1000 is supported by Yokohama, Method Race Wheels, Walker Evans Racing, South Point Hotel Casino, Bilstein Shock Absorbers, Multitool USA, Mastercraft/Impact Safety, P.C.I. Race Radios, BajaUnited Group and many more.