“WOW! What an amazing week! The NORRA Mexican 1000 is way tougher than people give it credit for. Yes it’s amazing and fun, but 5 full days of racing over 1200+ miles, prep, tacos, and little sleep is TOUGH! I’m very proud of our car and our team to say the least. The Yukon Gear and Axle 4893 crossed the line 1st in class at the 50th anniversary NORRA 1000.
As always, we were as prepared as we could be for this event. All the trucks were dialed, the ESAB welders were loaded, the car was perfect, the team was ready, and we prayed for just a little luck this year. The NORRA 1000 was a 5 day event this year (instead of 4), racing from city to city and enjoying Mexico along the entire peninsula from Ensenada to Cabo.
ENSENADA Tech and Contingency: The race was the 50th anniversary and there was so much energy and excitement around it. As always the towns people were awesome, and NORRA had their act together. We did the usual sign in, completed tech inspection, and enjoyed the tacos. Our plan was three simple steps and to have a chance:
Step 1. Beer and Ice (come on, it’s Baja!)
Step 2. Prep car for the upcoming day.
Step 3. Make it through the stage in time and hopefully before dark.
We knew the plan needed to be fluid and flexible, however, because anything can happen in Mexico. We had to keep a great attitude and hard work hard to get this done.
ENSENADA Race Day 1: Race day was like all others: Nervous, excited, and everything in between. We were not off the line until later in the AM so we had a lot of time to burn, which can be hard on the nerves. Finally, we came off the line and up though the mountains we went. This terrain was something I had never seen before in Mexico, but it was still filled with its typical beauty. The course wound way up and into the pines (where I swear it was 50 degrees out). The car was running great. We would pass a few, get passed a lot less, but we were really enjoying the race. The car had decent communication with our team, which is always a plus.
After stage one we knew we were doing good. We took fuel and did a driver change. Now we were again in a totally new world of long dry lakebeds, nasty silt and big whoops. We knew that a lot of cars would be having a bad day in the silt, so we decided ahead of time to help any and everyone we could, as long as they were ready. We ended up helping a good friend and a local team (Fly-N-Hi) who were in a bad way (almost under the silt). We had a good day and made it in time for an ice cold Tecate and dinner in Filipe. Day one was a success.
SAN FILIPE Race Day 2: After going though the car and finding no issues, I put a new member to the team Eric (Bucket List Racing) into the car for the first time with me. He did a great job and really enjoyed it. Race started right off into big sand whoops. We continued to race down to the Sea of Cortez, right next to beaches that you only see in post cards. Next was a trip over to “CoCo's Corner” – a Baja classic - at full race speed with local traffic, construction vehicles, and race teams trying to make their next stop; that was a crazy way to race. The last section of the day was into what I call the “Dr. Seuss Christmas Tree Forest” and on to Bay de Los Angeles, where we were again greeted with a cold beer and a fun party. We were continuing to move up in the field after 2 days of competition.
BAY de LOS ANGELES Race Day 3: I took a break from the car in the AM, saving myself for the 170-mile section later in the day, which would be the most remote and hard of the entire race. Steve Adams and Jason Hurst did a great job and kept moving up though the line of racecars for their morning segment. Mike Bradley and I meet them and then chased them into San Ignacio, where we would jump in for a long afternoon.
We crossed the entire peninsula, all the way to the Pacific Ocean, all the while crossing rivers, rough mountains, and open desert in some super remote places. We conducted a tough recovery of another racer who slid off the road not too far in front of us (and who were too scared to get out of the car as they were about to go over the 20-foot ledge). With 4-Wheel Drive, a winch, and some JM Rigging winch line, we saved the day and they were more than happy to see us. 140 miles into the stage is where we also found Dave Cole, owner and co-founder of Ultra4 Racing, who was also racing the NORRA 1000. He had moved up into some killer spots in the field, but had suffered his second broken power steering pump of the day. We gave him some cash (and a few beers) and promised to connect with his team. We also informed him we had the same steering pump and would let him have it for a spare if needed. After an exhausting day, we pulled into Loredo after dark (as most did that day). The car was still in great shape... we thought.
LOREDO Race Day 4: The next morning, after all of our prep was done and little things addressed, we went to start the car to go fuel. NOTHING. Totally dead. No sign of any issues. Frantic, with only one hour until our start time, we worked and worked trying to find the electrical issue that was not allowing the vehicle to fire. We had 208 motor sports (Josh West) on the phone for hours trying to help us remotely. We finally got it started, thought we had figured out the issue, and then realized that was not it. The team just kept going after it and going after it with their “never quit” attitude. Finally, we found the issue and fired up the car 15 minutes before we were to be a DNF for the race. (If you didn’t start a day’s leg you were out of the race.) Jay and I took the first section, which was one of my favorites of the trip. We went up an awesome canyon and into some amazing towns with beautiful architecture (the missions were amazing). We crossed rivers and farms all the way to the town of Constitution. That’s where Steve and Jay would than take the car on to La Paz.
We did the driver change and all off a sudden it happened again. No start. Knowing the first issue, we went directly there and realized we were missing one thing. Now we were in a huge race. Dave Cole was in the hunt to make up time and we lost a lot of time that morning, so we knew it was going to be close. Dave was much faster in his 4400 multi-shock, large engine car vs. our single shock 4800 car. We needed to keep as much ground between him and us as we could. The only communications we had with the car were via Mike Wixon, who was back home on the sat tracker. We made it to La Paz, but this time we had real car issues.... the rear hub was coming apart. We stayed up later than we wanted heading into the final day, doing that repair. The last leg was make or break.
LA PAZ Race Day 5: Confident with the car now and just ready to let things work out as needed, I had Steve and Eric start the stage. It is one of the most epic and beautiful parts of the race - you are hundreds of feet up in the air, on a small cliff road, over-looking the ocean. The boys did a good job and handed me over a car in great shape. We had time on Dave Cole, but only about 45 minutes. Any small issue and we would have been out of the lead. I started the stage with Steve co-dog and Dave was right on my tail. Close enough for radio contact, we raced and had a good time BS-ing each other on the radio and enjoying our racing together. We finally entered Cabo and cross the line for a 1st place finish in class and a significant team victory after so many miles in a new for 2017 race car.
That was a very proud night at the awards banquet. I requested all the Ultra4 teams join me on stage for my awards speech. We came down to do what other didn’t think we could do. We won our class, we represented ourselves and Ultra4 Racing well, plus we had a blast. After taking a few days to unwind in Cabo, the crew worked their way back up the peninsula and back into the States to start planning for next year’s race!”
A special thank you to all of our friends and family who support the team and the cars. An extra special thank you to all of our partners: ESAB Welding and Cutting, Yukon Gear and Axle, ADS Racing Shocks, ARTEC Industries, JM Rigging Supply, Certified Inspection Services / Mike Wixom, Goodyear, Raceline Wheels, Rigid Lights, Industrial Metal Supply Company, Torco Race Fuels, Rugged Radios, Tireballs, Jimmy’s 4x4, and Arizona RV Salvage.