FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 21, 2023
The 2023 Yokohama NORRA 500 Is Underway
Tech, Contingency, Qualifying, and Welcome Fiesta!
The Yokohama NORRA 500 got underway on Thursday October 19th with perfect weather in Ensenada, Baja Mexico. For most it was a great day of catching up with friends and checking out all the incredible race vehicles during tech inspection at the Riviera Convention Center. In addition to all the race cars, trucks and UTV’s getting inspected, Mack Johnson´s Classic Car Round-Up Presented by CHENOWTH Legacy Lodge & Museum had iconic cars on display from the Pioneer, Legends, Challenger and Vintage Eras. There was a roadbook navigation and GPS training session for anyone learning or just needing a refresher and Stella was on hand to install their trackers that are used on all vehicles entered. NORRA staff was on hand to guide everyone through the process.
Fans and fellow competitors had ample time to check out the sights, have a photo taken with a favorite driver or living legend and grab a fresh churro from Yokohama. Carnitas was cooking at the food vendors and lots of NORRA merchandise was on hand for purchase. Everywhere you looked you saw products from Bilstein, STEEL-IT, Raceline wheels, and Yokohama; much of it on competitor’s cars. There were Meyers Manx both new and old as well as Ford Broncos from every era. At the Fab School booth, they were getting the accolades from racers that they so deserve. They have helped so many teams get to the finish at NORRA races. They teach many different fabrication skills in the classroom and put that knowledge to use in the Baja where it counts.
While most were taking it easy at tech, the Evolution Production Turbo UTV and Evolution 2000 classes were pushing their limits. They were determining their own destiny as they hit the dirt during the first ever qualifying session at the NORRA 500. Those classes are competing for a huge prize money package totaling 20 thousand dollars. A fast qualifying time throws down the gauntlet for the rest of the field and gets you out front on race day one. Shown live on The NORRA TV YouTube channel, it was filled with action until the very end. Robby Gordon was the final car to qualify and had son Max Gordon to beat if he wanted to sit on the pole. Max laid down a blistering time of 2 minutes, thirty five seconds to take the early lead. He had to wait patiently as several of the fastest racers tried to knock him off the top spot.
Despite a fast run by Robby, Max could not be beaten in his fresh off the assembly line Speed UTV. He is the top UTV qualifier for the 2023 Yokohama NORRA 500. Thomas Purcell, 2021 NORRA 500 winner was second fastest in his Polaris Pro R. Robby posted the third fastest time in his Speed Energy Bandit wearing the familiar number 77. Fourth fastest was previous winner and Mary McGee trophy recipient Renee Hudson in a Polaris PRO R 4. Rounding out the top five was Bruce Yee in his 2016 Jimco Class 10; talk about a stacked field at the front. The rest of the competitors have their work cut out for them if they want some of that prize money.
After a full day of fun and excitement, the Welcome Fiesta had food, drinks and live music for everyone. The driver’s meeting at 6:00pm was the final opportunity to get the information needed when they charge off the line in the morning. The course has multiple stages that will average around 70 miles long. Each day is different and includes some of the most scenic and storied destinations in northern Baja like the pine forest and Mike’s Sky Rancho. It also contains exciting new sections along the way.
The Yokohama NORRA 500 is a fun and challenging event that is great for seasoned racers as well as those who are new to racing in Baja. Easy logistics and incredible terrain are just some of the many aspects of this 2 day stage racing event that make it so popular. Competitors are grouped according to the era of racing that their vehicle competed in. There are classes at the NORRA 500 for cars, trucks, and UTV’s. Even if you don’t own a race car, street legal vehicles can participate in the Safari Expedition. Be sure to tune in to the NORRA TV You Tube page for live action on race days. For all kinds of information about NORRA and the latest news and results go to www.norra.com.
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