The Adventure of Challenging the Desert
Every two years along the arid and winding roads of Baja California, undaunted drivers come together on the Baja Peninsula. Their only intention is to participate in the famous Baja 1000, a 1000-mile auto race that crosses the peninsula from north to south through some of the most inhospitable terrain. These motorized cavalrymen prepare to overcome the harsh ness of the desert while riding side by side in their 750-horse power machines. Beginning in the city of Ensenada and finishing in La Paz, this race is not only a race of speed, but also a race of courage. Drivers face the unknown rugged terrain throughout their 1,000-mile (1,636.7-kilometer) journey through the Baja California peninsula. Since 1967, the Baja 1000 has taken place for the enjoyment of these thrill-seekers on wheels. The race is an extreme competition that is framed by the contrasting landscapes of the sea, mountains and extensive deserts. Today’s event is the evolution of a motorcycle race that first took place in 1962. It was then that riders Dave Bud Elkins and Bill Robertson Junior climbed on their Honda 250 motorcycles and took off on an off-road journey from Tijuana to La Paz. Elkins arrived at his destination in 39 hours and 54 minutes, whereas Robertson arrived almost an hour later. Since precision stop watches did not exist at the time, the riders chose to record their official start and stop times on a sheet of paper that they carried with them by having them stamped at the respective Tijuana and La Paz telegraph offices. These types of competitions continued for five straight years until 1967. It was at that time that the enthusiasm of Ed Pearlman, a florist from Valle de San Fernando led him to found the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) and create the Mexicana 1000. This competition began with a total of 68 participants and went from Tijuana to La Paz on October 31, 1967. NORRA continued organizing the Mexicana 1000, which later changed its name to the Baja 1000. In 1968, the starting line was moved to Ensenada. In 1973, the Mexican authorities revoked Pearlman’s permit, and along with the gas crisis of1974, the Baja 1000 was suspended. However, in 1975, the Baja California peninsula authorities granted the Score International Company a permit so that they could organize this traditional race. Since then, the race has taken place every two years along the route from Ensenada to La Paz. The race is considered to be the world’s most important and difficult challenge in off-road motoring since it is a race that brings together both velocity and endurance throughout its journey. Various types of motorcycles and other powerful vehicles, representing the biggest names in the automotive industry, participate in the race. These vehicles are super reinforced with special accessories for this type of competition.
From November 15-18, 2006, the 39th edition of the Baja 1000 will take place along its traditional route from Ensenada to La Paz. New to the race this year, the trip will include a stretch through the outskirts of the city of Loreto. As always, the world’s top off-road figures will participate, with the North Americans, Europeans and Asians being showcased. Many of the Baja Peninsula’s top competitors in this sport will also be racing. Their prestige is recognized through the multiple off-road races in which they have competed and which have led to the crowning of a state champion. These local competitions, like the Baja 1000, bring many fans of this sport to the area. Many famous people have tried to capture the title in this race. One of them, in 1982, is Mark Thatcher, son of the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher. Also, celebrities such as the actor James Garner, singer Ted Nugent and the late Steve McQueen participated in this event in the early 1960s. In addition, Mexican driver Jostle Garza, the only racer from Mexico to be named Newcomer of the Year at the Indianapolis 500, has participated in this notorious event. In the next edition of this race, many celebrities from all ambits are expected to attend. Thus, to speak of the Baja 1000 is to tell the story of personalities, records, adventures, emotions, anecdotes, gasoline, oil, broken parts and pure adrenaline. It is for these reasons that this race is considered one of the best races in the world.