Join The World's Best Iconic & Vintage Car Community >>

NORRA’s New Frontier

Not all the vehicles taking the Baja challenge were trucks or buggies, as this Saab 99 attests.

You’ll probably get stopped at some point and have to pay off the cops. You will almost certainly have to weld something at what would have been your lunch stop. Your kidneys will be bruised, you might get stuck in the sand, and by the time you make it to the other end of the silt beds, you’ll have adobe-lined lungs. This may be enough to turn off all but the most dedicated motorsports enthusiasts, but for those of us on the lunatic fringe, NORRA’s Mexican 1000 is a fresh new frontier.

In the 1960s, the Baja 1000 was a loosely organized and largely unrestricted point-to-point race sanctioned by the late Ed Pearlman, founder of the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA). It was an off-road race because there were no paved roads heading down the Baja Peninsula. Racing legend Parnelli Jones’ participation is credited with legitimizing the Mexican 1000, while earning overall wins in Bill Stroppe’s Ford Broncos in 1971 and 1972. Around the same time, James Garner and ABC Sports helped to publicize the event in mainstream media, and commercial interests began to take root. By 1973, the Mexican government recognized the race could be an opportunity for profit and founded the Baja Sports Committee, renaming the Mexican 1000 to the Baja 1000, and attempted to sanction the event on their own. This proved to be much more difficult than originally anticipated. The event headed downhill for several years before ultimately being turned over to Sal Fish, President of SCORE, who has successfully cultivated it into one of North America’s premier professional motorsports events, and the longest uninterrupted point-to-point road race on the globe.

Become a Member & Get Ad-Free Access To This Article (& About 6,000+ More)

Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes most ads, lets you enjoy unlimited access to all our premium content, and offers you awesome discounts on partner products. Enjoy our premium content.

Become a member today!

Already a Member?