Racing It Old School: Mexican 1000 Rally

Mex1000 WE II

Story and photos by John Rettie -- copyright Trackside Photo

Are you nostalgic for old race trucks? Check out these photos taken in Baja, Mexico, a few days ago.

Seasoned off-road racers will remember what great fun the first few Mexican 1000 races were back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Like so many race series nowadays, the big Baja off-road races require a serious commitment of money, time and talent to win overall.

Three years ago, Mike Pearlman — the son of Ed Pearlman, who was one of the original founders of NORRA (National Off Road Racing Association), which organized the first Baja race in 1967 — revived the Mexican 1000 Rally. Only now it is for vintage off-road race vehicles and those who want to run modern “non-race” cars, such as pre-runners and rally cars.

The event has grown popular, and this year some 73 cars and trucks along with 20 bikes started the four-day rally in Mexicali. Each day the competitors tackled two or three timed stages on dirt tracks. Then they traversed transit sections on paved highways to overnight stops at beautiful locations such as Bahia de Los Angeles, Loreto and La Paz, on their way to the finish Thursday in San Jose del Cabo.

Several classic winning trucks entered this year, including Walker Evans, who returned to drive his 1977 Dodge pickup. Parnelli Jones’ 1977 Chevy C-10 and Ivan Stewart’s 1978 Ford F-100 ran in the event but not with their original drivers.

Robby Gordon, a three-time Baja 1000 winner, was there to help Clyde Stacy, who was behind the wheel of the Hummer that Nasser Al-Attiyah drove in the last Dakar Rally. If you're wondering how a race truck like this could run against vintage machinery, it's because there are several classes for modern vehicles, and the Hummer is not as potent as a trophy truck, even though that’s what it is under that bright-orange body.

Mex1000 chase II
Several people competed in modern trucks, including Cam Thieriot in a beautiful 2010 Ford F-150 pre-runner complete with electric windows and air conditioning. Others were in trucks that looked slightly worse for wear, obviously having seen plenty of race action long ago.

That's the beauty of this event -- it harkens back to the days when you could bring any modified vehicle down to race on the dirt roads in Baja. Most drivers, navigators and support crews took vacation time to participate in the rally. Everyone enjoyed the adventure, treating it as a fun event rather than a flat-out, highly charged, competitive race. Socializing each evening and bench racing seemed just as important as the driving.

Considering there must be literally hundreds of old race trucks scattered around the country, it should not be too difficult to find one and restore sufficiently to be able to enter a future Mexican 1000 Rally. It’s undoubtedly one of the only and most exciting ways to explore this beautiful part of the world. It’s four days, 1,100 miles, 10,000 smiles — and a million memories.

For the full recap of the race or to find out more about racing in the Mexican 1000, click here

Mex1000 fly II

Mex1000 Chevy II

Mex1000 Toy II

Mex1000 Hum II

Mex1000 Ford 3 II

Mex1000 Ford 2 II


Great pics! I love vintage race stuff whether it be pickups, cars, or motorcycles... .

Wait, I thought oxi founded the Baja races?

Cool old trucks!

oxi has raced down in the baja...Have you?

Thats really cool, i love that its as unrestricted as it is and people can come race their trucks and have fun.

Thank goodness there arent any full size trucks in that race though... they would never be able to fit on the trails or have enough ground clearance to finish... oh wait... even the toyota pictured is a full size you say? Good luck explaining that one oxi...

I think it would be neat if they had a division in these races for modern trucks 100% stock. No modifications, nothing. Curious to see how things would do.

Dodge RAM with a mopar V-10 just won last years baja 1000 in class 8.RAM is also dominating in TORC off road racing.




Are these trucks 4x4 or 2wd? If they're 4x4, how do they get so much travel?

when trucks "were trucks".

nothing like the ol days... ;)

The Freightliner Argosy COE support Truck used by Robby Gordon, is still being made for Markets in Australia, new Zealand and South Africa. This is the current model. Mercedes would like to get sales in the US/Canada to offset production for Australia,NZ etc.

Good luck to Freightliner on selling the Agosy here again. Cabovers are dead in the U.S.. The Argosy wasn't a bad rig, but it didn't sell when it was available here before.

@Big Bob. I think Robby Gordon's rig is a left over from his Dakar Rally, where all large trucks are COE. Outside NA with the exception of open truck markets of Australia, NZ and South Africa, you would never see a Conventional Truck. Some are sold in Russia, but that is it, as far as Europe goes. None in Asia. In South Africa and New Zealand, they mainly sell COE's HDT's with some Conventionals. Here in Australia it runs 60/40 Conventional HDT's with no Conventional MDT's or Light Trucks. COE HDT's are increasing their market share through.
Scania and MAN make more COE Class 8's than there are Conventional Class 8"s sold in North America. So the market outside NA for COE's is very big market indeed.

@Michael - most of the trucks in the pics look like 4x2. You probably could google the individual trucks to find more specifications. The link above shows the rules. You have to stay with stock a-arms etc in some classes, others you can run some more advanced modifications.
This kind of racing looks like fun. Nice to see it being set up so most people can afford it.
I'd love to try something like that. 1,100 miles of racing and another 2,000 miles of driving one way just to get there.
@phillyguy - I think that the rules do allow stock vehicles. There are mods you'd have to make to meet safety rules.

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