General Tire Azunia Tequila Snortin Nortin Wins Back to Back at the NORRA 1000
NORRA Mexican 1000 Race Report
05.14.12 The 2012 General Tire NORRA, Mexican 1000 has already transpired but it hasnt really ended. Just like the tales told by the fire each night by the legends of our sport like Malcolm Smith, Walker Evans, Bruce Myers and the rest, the Mexican 1000 will live on in the memories of all those who made the journey. Was it a rally or was it a race? There were plenty of drivers who were going all out. Was it a vintage racecar show or a showcase for state of the art technology? Was it hardnosed competition or comrades stopping to help each other out? Apparently, it was all that and more; it just depends on who you ask.
For the General Tire, Azuia Tequila team it was a chance to defend their vintage class win in 2011 with the Snortin Nortins 1970 Nova. It was also a chance to see some spectacular scenery, eat great food, have some ice cold margaritas after a long day and to share some seat time with friends new and old.
Six co-drivers had a chance to navigate the course during the rally. Co-drivers Dave Despain, Jenifer McCrary, Chris Ware, Hollywood Dowland, Darrell Herrington and Brenda Johnson all called the shots to drivers Jim Riley and Rick Johnson. Host of Wind Tunnel on the Speed channel, Dave Despain said after the rally, The entire Snortin Nortins team are just the best. It was a huge thrill to ride in the car; to understand its capabilities and to see first-hand the appeal it has to everyone who sees and hears it in action. The whole experience adds another dimension to my appreciation for Baja racing and its history.
For Rick Johnson and his wife Brenda, it was also a chance to put their unfortunate car accident they suffered last year at the 500 behind them. Sure the pioneers of our sport were looking for the ultimate challenge when they started racing to La Paz but they could have ran across any desert. They chose Mexico because a trip down south will cleanse your soul; thats what makes Baja so special.
The teams cars are both over thirty years old but that didnt hold the drivers back. Rick burned his feet driving the open wheel car, originally built by Smokey Allerman and referred to as the Jalopy, on the first two days. Because of its design, the driver sits right in the middle, straddling the transmission and exhaust. Even after wrapping his feet they were too tender to drive so for the last two stages Ryan Thomas was pressed into driving duties. This was no cruise for Ryan, he pushed the car hard on day three and on the last day, the transmission had enough with only 60 miles to go ending their race.
The Nova performed magnificently over the course of the rally which is no surprise. It has an impressive record in some of the toughest races ever run like the Mint 400, Parker and Frontier 500. Obviously Larry Tunnell and Mick Newton, the original builders, knew what they were doing. They successfully defended their title winning the Vintage production Sedan class for the second year in a row. Its so gratifying to write another chapter in the history books with these vintage vehicles. Of course it would not have been possible without the support of General Tire, Azuia Tequila, KC Hilites, K&N Filters, Maxima Oil, Vans shoes and NORRA, next years race cant come soon enough.