The NORRA 1000 is an off-road race that plays more to the history of off-road racing than any other race out there. The classes are set up eras and drivers run the entire Baja peninsula, starting in Ensenada and finishing in Cabo San Lucas.
One of those drivers was Simon Flynn, of Trophy Burro in the no. 869 truck nicknamed McBurro. Flynn ran his 1969 F100 in the Vintage Open Category with his co-driver Patrick Koch. The Vintage Open Category is the same class that this year’s winner, Craig Smith, was in.
“I bought the truck from Andy McMillin about a year ago,” Flynn explained. “The truck was built originally by Mark Newhan and raced NORRA in 2010 Driven by Scott McMillin. Evan Weller Racing did a full prep and got the rear dialed in while KDM Shock Technologies got the shocks all rebuilt and tuned up for us.”
Any race is exciting, but a race spanning over five days and running down the Baja peninsula is something else.
Racing The NORRA 1000
Racing any race is a dream of most off-roaders. Flynn had watched the NORRA race for about five years. “It’s something I have always wanted to do since I first saw trucks, like the Method74, at the finish in San Jose,” Flynn said. “I love classics and the historical aspect.”
“I raced a Class 9 about 10 years ago on a few local races in Baja Sur,” Flynn continued. “I have a ton of respect for those guys, but my back could not handle it. The F100 is way more my comfort level and having air conditioning sure does not hurt.”
If you get involved with off-road racing it is not long after that you catch the racing bug and want to be out there participating. Getting behind the wheel for the first time can be a bag full of mixed emotions.
“I knew it was a long race and I was a little nervous being the only driver,” Flynn said. “I kept saying in my head I am just driving the truck back home to Cabo. It just happens to be in a race with 250 other guys. Once we got to the first special it all just fell into place. I took it easy and got into the groove.”
During the race, there can be many highs and lows. From having to watch out for hazards on the course to mechanical issues many things can come up during a 1,000-mile race. One benefit of the NORRA race is that it is broken up into segments over a five day period. This allows teams to fix the vehicles in between and make sure they are ready to go.
“The low point during the race was when I thought we broke the suspension, but it turned out it was only a flat, the Tri-Ace tires did even better than I expected,” Flynn said. “I have to say the highlight was my family surprising me in La Paz at the finish and driving across the finish in San Jose with both my kids in the car.”
Running a desert race, a flat tire means lost time. Jordan Brenthel gave Flynn some advice to focus on saving the rear tires and not to spin or slide around. It really helped calm Flynn down and drive a calm race. here are hundreds and thousands of rocks during a 1,000-mile race and to only have one flat says something and his finishing position shows that. Flynn finished fourth in his class.
“I am incredibly proud that we did it and finished our first time,” Flynn continued. “I also realized how fast some of these guys really are. Props to everyone who entered and raced with us and a huge thank you to everyone who put on this amazing event. It was better than I expected. The guys from NORRA worked tirelessly all week.”
As the saying goes, to finish first you first have to finish, just crossing the finish line is a huge success for any racer especially on their first race. Having a truck that was built for a family like the McMillins, is also a great foundation to get going. Flynn also had Rugged Radios, Speed Straps, Maxtrax, Pro Eagle, Raceline Wheels, Maxima Racing Oils, and Sparco on board for the race.
Racing And Beyond
Racing anything takes a lot of dedication and time to make sure the vehicle is ready for battle. Some people race once and are done, that won’t be the case with Flynn.
“I will definitely race Norra again,” Flynn said. “The plan is to try and do it every other year, but let me talk to my wife first. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me achieve this goal and finishing the NORRA 1000. It was a long time coming. I would like to thank my wife, Dulce, and kids, Otto and Valentina, Evan Weller and AJ, who got the truck working so well and prepped, Keith, who tuned the shocks and Patrick my co-driver who kept me on the road and calm.”
The truck is the main part of the race, but many of the unsung heroes are in the chase vehicles. “I also want to thank Jonathan and Jordan Brenthel, who took the time out of their hectic schedules to support us, the whole chase team, Eric, Fred, Jerry, and Juan, Jamie Galles in the Baja Kits Can-Am, and Chris and Brad from Brenthel Industries who were there with us to the end and had to drive the chase rigs home,” Flynn finished.
The 2019 NORRA may be in the books, but next year’s race will be here before we know it. Make sure to follow Trophy Burro on Instagram to see everything he is up to.
Photo Credit: Eric Ahlquist