NORRA Is Pleased To Announce The 2023 Grand Marshal At Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000! “Lightning” Larry Ragland
Off Road Racing Icon, Avid NORRA Racer, and Competing as Usual in This Year’s Event
NORRA is pleased to announce that the Grand Marshal for the 2023 Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000 is Larry Ragland. Not only is “Lightning” Larry an off road racing icon, but is an avid NORRA racer. He will be competing as usual in the event. Larry has been racing with NORRA since 2014. For the last several years Larry has raced with friend and former rival Jimmy Smith in Jimmy’s 2006 ALCON buggy.
Larry was a motorcycle racer until one day when his racing partner bought a buggy. They entered the Baja 500 soon afterwards. Larry’s partner ran the first lap; Larry ran the second. “After that race I was hooked,” says Larry. “It was the most fun I ever had. It was the last time I ever raced a motorcycle. I won the Mint 400 in 1986. I was the one hundred and second car off the line. Anyone who asks me about getting into racing off road; I tell them to look up NORRA and do that first. Everyone will get to have fun instead of being stressed out. I raced my prerunner with my wife at first. A few years ago Jimmy called me and asked if I would drive his car; we raced against each other and have been good friends for 40 years. We both had a great time and I look forward to the Mexican 1000 every year.”
In addition to a long list of impressive race wins in the United States and Mexico, Larry Ragland got his first overall Baja 1000 win in 1991. He followed that up with overall wins in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1999. He is one of only three, 4 wheeled competitors to have won three in a row. The other two drivers are Rob MacCachren, and Luke McMillin. (Both have also raced with NORRA). Larry lost the 1998 Baja 1000 to another icon, Ivan Stewart, by only seconds. Larry was only seconds away from an overall winning streak at the Baja 1000 that would have spanned 5 times in a row. It’s safe to say that Larry dominated the Trophy Truck class in Baja during the 1990’s. Outside of a race car Larry is soft spoken and quite humble, but as he puts it: “I’m not a mean guy at all, but when you put me in a five thousand pound truck…” Larry epitomizes President Teddy Roosevelt’s famous saying “speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
The NORRA Mexican 1000 continues to grow in popularity every year. “The Happiest Race On Earth!” is unlike any other event in the world. A unique feature of the Mexican 1000 is its rally format. Instead of flying down the peninsula at a frantic pace, each day has an overnight stay at a unique location where competitors have a chance to take in the sights, get a great meal, hang out with their friends and family and prepare for the next day’s stage. There is time for all out competition and for making new friends along the way. The memories you create will last a lifetime.
Another feature of NORRA racing that stands out is the diversity of racers and their vehicles. Everyone loves the vintage cars and trucks that compete; there are many iconic race vehicles entered. The early cars are living examples of the evolution in design that has taken place over the years. For those who love factory sheet metal, there are lots of early Broncos and trucks from Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, International, Nissan, Jeep, and Toyota. NORRA has a class for everyone; two wheels or four.
If you don’t have a race car, enter the safari class for street legal vehicles. It is a guided tour of Baja that puts you right in the mix of the Mexican 1000, or NORRA 500. You will take the green flag each day, and follow sections of the race course, but also take time to see the sights, and visit points of interest along the way. You will get to know the real Baja from the driver’s seat of your own vehicle. You will see many out of the way places that only seasoned Baja travelers know about from the most spectacular missions, to the best street tacos. Your path during the day will eventually lead to the finish line where you will cheer on the finishers before joining everyone at the nightly celebrations that take place in unique destinations along the way.
The very first adventurers who set off to challenge the Baja Peninsula would throw a huge celebration afterwards to mark their accomplishment. That tradition continues to this day at the Mexican 1000. If you love racing, love to have fun, and love the food, drink and culture of Baja, you must come down and experience “The Happiest Race On Earth!”, the NORRA Mexican 1000. Go to norra.com to find out more.
Beginning in 2010, the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) began promoting a rebirth of the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally. The unique off-road rally was co-created by promoter Mike Pearlman to consist of special stages (unlimited speed timed stages in the dirt) linked together by controlled speed liaison / transit sections (highway). The one-of-a-kind, once-a-year, five-day rally includes vintage off-road vehicles and motorcycles, as well as modern pre-runners, trucks, buggies, UTVs, bikes and desert Rally Raid cars.
Pearlman’s late father Ed and others established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November of 1967, which eventually became internationally recognized and evolved into the Baja 1000 in the mid-1970’s.
NORRA enjoys corporate partnerships with: