The Happiest Race on Earth
Once a year, over the span of 5 days, racers compete in the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally while taking in the food, culture and stunning views of the Baja Peninsula. From adventure-seeking enthusiasts on bikes, quads, UTV’s and vintage vehicles, to professional drivers in state-of-the art race cars, you’ll find an eclectic mix of competitors in “The Happiest Race on Earth”. The NORRA 1000 is a grinding test of the driving team and the off-road vehicle, having to endure very long days while navigating the challenging course over rough terrain and driving conditions. Patience, grit, strength and skill, plus the ability to think quick in tough situations is a requirement, as at some point the drivers will be thrown a curve or car repair they weren’t expecting.
Samlex Offroad Team
This year the Samlex Offroad race team entered the Samlex 1888 UTV (2017 CAN AM X3 XRS) in the EVOLUTION Modern Machines category with their first Fathers & Sons team. Joining Earl & Cody Berg were; Isaac Chapluk from Ensenada, Mexico and his son Isaac Chapluk Jr. from Chula Vista, USA; Cesar Romero Zatarain and his son Cesar Jr. from La Paz , Mexico. Over the 5-days, they navigated the 1300 miles from Ensensada to San Jose del Cabo. Each day they would tackle a new section of course with a different driver and navigator, switching mid-way if they had to go 450 miles in a single day.
Countdown to Race Day
After more than 3 months of preparing the car for the NORRA 1000, the big day came. The 1888 Samlex Offroad UTV had undergone some significant work including new Fox suspension to get the car ready for the rough terrain ahead.
Day 1 of racing at the 2022 NORRA Mexican 1000 kicked off in Ensenada and finished in San Felipe. Isaac Chapluk Sr. and his son Isaac Jr. were racing together for the second time in over 10 years, with Isaac Jr. navigating for his father.
“This was a good race day for us to be in the car as my dad has a lot of experience in the roads going from Ensenada to San Felipe as he has raced and won numerous times in different classes through those roads, going in all different directions. From international races like the Baja 1000 and Baja 500, to races from the local off road competition series…”
— Isaac Chapluk Jr.
“We had at least 4 almost-crash moments and were able to maintain an average speed of 50 mph on dirt from Ensenada to San Felipe. Got 22nd overall in the 1st speed section and averaged 33rd for the day. We were able to get the car to do a top speed of 86 mph and missed 3rd place by 45 seconds. The car did good being the first day with 4 more race days to go.”
— Isaac Chapluk Sr.
Day 2 took the drivers from San Felipe to a small fishing village of Bahia de Los Angeles (BOLA). Isaac Chapluk Jr. was driving with Cody Berg navigating. They experienced some fast straight sections as well as rough sections with deep sand whoops (bumps) where visibility was extremely low. They lost some time when they had to stop to repair the CVT belt on the car but they quickly got this fixed and were able to finish the race strong.
Day 3 was the longest leg of the NORRA 1000 with some challenging repairs that put Earl and Cody Berg to the test. The rough terrain resulted in a broken front right axle, two blown belts and losing their brakes mid-race. They were able to fix the wheel in the middle of the desert and reached the finish in Loreto where the Samlex support team worked until 3am getting the car race-ready for the next day.
Day 4 the crew’s late night work paid off and the 1888 was ready to tackle the gnarliest section of the course with returning Baja-1000 champion, Cesar Romero Zatarain driving, and his son, Cesar Jr. navigating. The team had a really strong day handling the steep alpine climb before being rewarded with stunning views of the Sea of Cortez as they finished the leg to La Paz.
Day 5 the final day of the NORRA 1000 was driven by Cesar Sr and Isaac Sr. With over 50 years of combined racing experience, the team knew the 1888 Samlex car was in good hands to finish the race. After travelling 1300 miles from Ensenada to San Jose del Cabo, with more than a few laughs, bumps and repairs along the way, the 1888 Samlex Offroad team finished 6th in the EVOLUTION Era Modified Turbo UTV category.
“This was a special race for me. It consists of 3 fathers, 3 sons and the best support crew you could ask for. Although we did not get the race result we wanted….many memories were created that I will never forget. Until next time!”
— Cody Berg
Shoutout to the CREW
The 1888 Samlex Offroad team couldn’t have finished the race without the amazing skill and determination of their Support Chase crew. Huge thanks to Reid Kirkham for managing the crew, Mitch Richardson for keeping everyone laughing through some tough moments, and Adan Leggs from EFF Race Prep & Custom Work for his mechanical wizardry.
The two Chase Trucks carry spare parts, food and drink, and a spare UTV (The Mule) that will deliver parts to the race team in the desert if they have a mechanical failure. The chase team also meets the racers at pre-determined pit stops to provide gasoline and inspect the race car. They carry extra tires and change at the pit stops, when needed. The two Chase Trucks are outfitted with Samlex PST power inverters and SEC-UL 12V battery chargers to ensure they’ve got reliable mobile power for tools and charging electronics in the middle of the desert.
Thanks to all the Sponsors
The team has many sponsors that provide racer discounts on parts and services, including:
BRP Can Am Racing Department (Race Car Parts), Canada; FOX Factory (shocks), USA; Guaycura Desert Cars (suspension), Mexico; Custom Wheel House (Tires), USA; Menace Shock Prep (suspension tuning), Mexico; RCV Racing (Axles), USA; Race Ready (special race parts), USA; and many more that have contributed to the build of the UTV.
Samlex America Inc. is a major sponsor providing funds to keep the 1888 race car in top condition plus providing registration fees, accommodations, meals and gasoline during the race.
Photos provided by Art Eugenio of Get Some Photo and Adan Leggs of EFF Race Prep & Custom Work
To get more info on Samlex off-road power solutions, inverters and battery chargers, feel free to contact our expert sales team by phone or email.