The On-Going Adventures of
2013 Mexican 1000
April 28 - May 1, 2013
I'm still not entirely sure why, but during the summer of 2012 I decided I wanted to participate in the NORRA Mexican 1000 - a 4-day navigational rally that runs down the entire peninsula of Baja, from Mexicali in the north to San Jose del Cabo in the south.
I was a pretty good motorcycle desert racer in my younger days, but that was 30+ years ago. But I've always loved desert riding, and generally I can still keep a pretty good pace riding offroad in the desert. The Mexican 1000, organized by the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA), is a tamer version of the infamous Baja 1000. In fact, NORRA was the founding organization that started the Baja 1000 in 1967, although it has been ran by SCORE International for about the last 40 years.
The Mexican 1000 divides the race into sections, that are competed on over 4 days (instead of an all-out non-stop race). There are multiple racing sections each day, called specials, where you are racing as fast as you can (primarily offroad). The specials are timed, and the fastest combined time for all of the specials is the winner. Between the specials, there are usually liaison sections which are typically paved sections to connect the offroad racing special sections. You typically have a time window in which to complete the liaison. If you are either early or late to the checkpoint at the end of the liaison section, then you accrue penalty minutes which are added to your racing time, and can thus affect your overall time and finishing position.
NORRA caters the Mexican 1000 to vintage race vehicles (the types of vehicles that raced the original 1967 version of the Baja 1000). So although much of the course is identical to recent Baja 500 and Baja 1000 race courses, it avoids the most technical sections; it's run over multiple days (meaning no racing at night); it allows you to stay in a hotel each night; and it's just a whole lot of fun!
It sounded to me like a way in which I could be racing again, but in a more relaxed manner. I originally planned to race my 2011 Husaberg, but found a 2009 Husaberg 570 for sale in Arizona for a good price and decided to buy it and convert it to a full Rally Raid race bike. This would allow me to keep my 2011 Berg as a practice and general dual-sport bike while race-prepping the '09 Berg. You can see what's involved in the race bike prep here.
In October 2012, my brother Keith passed away. He had been a professional motocross and Baja racer in the 70's and '80's. He raced the 1976 Baja 500 and 1000, as well as other similar events. Unfortunately, he broke his back while practicing one day and became paraplegic in 1986. He went on to become an elite-level wheelchair racer, but had battled infections and multiple other ailments for the past several years. With his passing, I was that much more motivated to enter, compete and finish the Mexican 1000 in his honor. I signed up for the race the first day that entries opened so I could choose #113 as my race number in tribute (his birthday was November 3).
Les Martin (M-Power) ,with help from his sons Chris and Chad, built my race bike. I headed over early on Thursday morning (Apr 25) to pick up Kevin Johnson (my mechanic for the race) and head over to Les's house to pick up the bikes. Before loading the bikes, I rode the race bike over to a nearby park for a few quick photos...
Here's a pic of me with Les and his son Chris...
Here's the race bike and my 1011 backup Berg about to be loaded up for the drive to Mexicali...
Kevin and I made the approximately 4-1/2 hours
drive to Mexicali. Pulled into secondary inspection at the border crossing to
check all of the paperwork on the bikes, but a pretty smooth border crossing. On
Kevin's recommendation, we stopped at the Araiza Hotel in Mexicali for a great
buffet lunch; and then continued on to the Colonial Hotel which served as race
Not too many people showed up to the hotel on Thursday. We went out to eat in the evening though I forget the name of the restaurant. We basically relaxed and got to bed fairly early.
By Friday, both motorcyclists and
cars/buggies/trucks were starting to show up. I took a walk around the
Colonial parking lot looking at the variety of vehicles planning to attempt the
A '74 Porsche 911:
A '64 Ford Galaxie:
Jim Riley and Rick (Hurricane) Johnson drove a '57 Chevy Bel Air:
'71 Chevy "Snortin Nortins" Nova:
A Custom 3-Seat Buggy:
'06 Travis Flether Pre-Runner:
'56 VW Bug:
'28 Willies Whippet:
Friday was a pretty relaxing day as well.
Tried the hot breakfast served by the hotel (mexican eggs, sausage, potatoes,
etc.) but it wasn't very good.
We took some pictures of the bike around the
Kevin hard at work...
Actually, we did real work too. Got the sat
phones loaded with the appropriate phone numbers and tried each one out. We
loaded the tracks on to the gps. We started laying out plans for the pit
strategy. We went over the course maps for each day, and Kevin advised on when
to go fast and when to take care of the bike. Studied where the rocky sections
were, where the sand and silt was, etc.
Saturday - April 27 - Tech Inspection
Saturday is registration and tech inspection.
Kevin and I decide to go over to the cafe next door to the hotel for breakfast.
It's really good. Place is filled with racers and crews of all types. We note
the sign that says "Open 24 Hours" - that's great since it means we
can get breakfast there before the very early start on the next day.
Pic of the bike waiting in line for tech
They finally open tech inspection. The process is first you take your vehicle up a podium and let all of the people and media take pictures.
It's exciting! Then you ride off the
podium and down contingency row (a bunch of vendors), and finally arrive at tech
The road book is used in combination with the
gps files to navigate the route. The advantage of the road book is that you can
scroll it forward or backwards with a handlbar-mounted thumb swtich to see
what's coming up on the course, and it contains warnings for all of the major
hazards on the course.
Then it's on to the bullring for the rider's
At the riders meeting, they go over some
logistics, safety issues, etc. It's actually kind of boring, but I guess a
necessary thing to do. Then it's back to the hotel, organize and pack up what we
can because it's going to be a very early start the next morning - race day!!!