2017 Race-Dezert NORRA Mexican 1000 Coverage
“We brought a gun to a knife fight…” Brandon Bailey quipped regarding bringing his Alumicraft Class 1 car to the vintage-themed Mexican 1000, “and I got stabbed!” A hard rock hit ripped the driver side rear arm off the car on Day Three of the NORRA Mexican 1000, ending the race for Stronghold Motorsports. The team can at least take solace that they are not alone, as the two special stages of Day Three provided more miles (over 300 miles in the dirt) than the previous two days combined. Walker Evans also had to retire due to mechanical failure, as did a host of other competitors. Many of those who were lucky enough to make it from Bay of LA to Loreto arrived well into the night.
Cameron Steele continues to battle with Mark Post for the overall lead, but the real stories are unfolding further back in the pack. David Hough is currently in the top ten overall standings in his Richer Racing-built 1400 Toyota pickup, well ahead of some big names with much bigger budgets. Also raising eyebrows are Travis Chase and Drew Belk, who are also in the top ten overall standings driving air cooled four cylinder cars with beam front axles. Troy Johnson was running up front with this group on Day Two, but fell way back in the standings on the way to Loreto.
Arguing over which classes are fastest (such as Class 10 versus 6100 or UTV versus Class 9) is one of our favorite past times on the RDC forums, and NORRA provides plenty of fodder for this discussion. In fact, NORRA uses the top overall finisher from each class to determine the starting order for Day One of the next year’s race (after Day One starting order is determined by the previous day’s finish order). This created some grumbling on Day One when the UTVs started ahead of the Ultra4 class, but things are shaping up for a repeat after Ultra4 drivers JT Taylor and Jason Shipman dropped out due to mechanical issues. That leaves Dave Cole and Andrew McLaughlin to carry the rock donkey torch, but they are both far behind PJ Jones and Bill Whittington, who are currently 28th and 29th overall in the standings.
“They used to call it Baja California,” Grand Marshall Eliseo Garcia recalls. “But now, the whole world knows us simply as Baja.” Eliseo worked for the tourism department and helped Ed Pearlman with the first Mexican 1000. Now Eliseo Jr. works with Mike Pearlman (Ed’s son) in planning the current Mexican 1000, which continues on Day Four from Loreto to La Paz. While shorter than Day Three, expect driver fatigue and parts failures to ramp up on the penultimate stage, which will separate the veteran teams from the less experienced.
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