The Baja 1000
The story and history of the most epic race... In the world!!!
How it started
It started in 1967, but was originally known as the Mexican 1000. Founded by Ed Pearlman and Don Francisco. Pearlman is widely considered to be the father of offroad racing, founding the National offroad racing association (NORRA). Pearlman has always been into racing, in fact when he was in the marines during World War 2, he would organize Jeep races along the beach in Guam where he was stationed. After he left the military, Pearlman became an avid outdoorsman and adventurer. In the early 60's he began doing offroad events, and in 1966 he invited a few friends to race across the Baja peninsula in Mexico, and the Baja 1000 was born.
A rough start
The first race consisted of only 3 teams, Pearlman and Dick Cepek drove in a Chevy powered land cruiser as did another team driven by Claude Dozier and Ed Orr, The 3rd team was just a press vehicle covering the race, it was a Meyers Manx buggy driven by Drino Miller and the journalist John Lawlor. Dozier and Orr would come first with a time of 41 hours and 45 minutes, while the press vehicle would finish last. This event got Pearlman thinking and he decided to make this race more organized.
The first official race
Once they got back home after the race, they decided to found NORRA and have the first race take place in Baja in 1967. In the first race 68 vehicles would partake in the race competing in 4 different classes. That year Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels would finish first in their Myers Manx, and the race has been going strong ever since.
Ivan "Ironman" Stewart catching air in his famous Toyota race truck
Some interesting stories in the history of the race
Ivan "Ironman" Stewart is the only person in the history of the race to win the Baja 1000 while driving solo, which is crazy! This race takes over 24 hours to finish, on rough terrain going well over a hundred miles an hour, so most teams exchange drivers every once in a while. You would have to be mad!!! to run this race solo. Another interesting story is how they dealt with the oil crisis that hit in 1973. The original organization was disbanded, due to the oil crisis. So the Mexican government actually held the race that year, but they realized it was too hard to do it by themselves so they got Mickey Thompson and Sal Fish to help out with future events.
The dangers of the race
At least 1 person every year is killed during the Baja 1000, whether it be a driver or spectator. In fact it's so bad that the race is considered to be the deadliest in North America. You have locals setting booby traps, a long with the harsh terrain. Locals dig ditches in the middle of the course, or set up jumps in the middle of the road that will send vehicles wildly out of control. A lot of these booby traps cause severe injuries and sometimes even death. I can recall a couple of years ago someone racing on a bike was killed by a booby trap in the middle of the road. Some think that the locals set these traps for their own entertainment.
Why I love the Baja 1000
It is a lot of fun to watch, you have trucks flying through the desert at 150mph effortlessly, going over massive jumps and doing the impossible. Now I want to build my truck like one. I'm going to build my own race chassis underneath it, with long travel coil-over suspension. It will have an SR20 under the hood, upgraded of course with a massive turbo, forged internals, big cams and a bunch of other goodies. I hope to be making around 500hp, with the exhaust coming right off of the turbo sticking out the fender. I also plan to swap the regular torsion bar suspension up front for a much better twin I-beam setup. It is going to be completely insane.