The Cortez Challenge is a Seven Day, North American Rally Raid


North America is finally going to have a  international-style rally raid!  Its called the Cortez Challenge and will run from April 22-29 in the Baja Peninsula. The rally raid is a combination of the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) Mexican 1000 and a newly announced three day “Cortez Rally.” Competitors can run each race separately, or can combine the two events into a longer trans-Baja Rally Raid experience, named seven-day “Cortez Challenge.”


The Cortez Challenge will start in Mexicali, Baja Mexico and is comprised of three days of competition at the Cortez Rally followed by a rest day that precedes another four days of Mexican 1000 competition.
NORRA partnered with Rally Raid veteran Darren Skilton, a two-time winner and former American envoy to the Dakar Rally to ensure this event is run properly. Skilton will also erve as NORRA’s official “Rally Master” for the Mexican 1000’s Evolution, Rally Raid and new Historic Trophy classes for 2015.

While NORRA’s highly popular four-day Mexican 1000 run down Baja’s scenic peninsula from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas will continue to be the sanctioning body’s main focus, the new Cortez Rally will instead follow an international style of rally raid competition that includes on-road “transit stages,’ off-road “special sections” and overnight stops. The new format will use road book and odometer-onlynavigation that falls in line with international Rally Raids and future Cortez Rally events. Ed. – We think this mean no modern GPS and route books.


The motorcycles will race on separate dates and courses to ensure the safety of riders sharing routes with four wheeled vehicles. The motorcycles will use road book navigation for both theMexican 1000 and Cortez Rally.
The Mexican 1000 route will cover sections of Baja that are better suited for limited suspension travel(as compared to the Baja 1000) and will run using traditional GPS and road book navigation. The 2015 rally routes will be kept secret until just prior to the event’s start,with no pre-event course reconnaissance (pre-running) allowed. 
The Cortez Rally starts in Mexicali April 22nd and will tackle three Dakar-inspired stages that finish in Ensenada on April 24th. All Cortez Challenge teams will be pre-registered for both events in Mexicali so they have time to work on their bikes and cars for a day before resuming the Challenge with the start of the Mexican 1000.

“It has always been in my mind that we need a real multi-day, cross-country rally for the off-road racing community,” said Skilton.


“Every continent in the world puts on a first class Rally Raid except North America. It’s time to change this. Aspiring Dakar teams from Canada, Mexico and the United States all need an event to fine-tune their cars and bikes, while Dakar dreamers need a cost-effective way to follow their passion. Together with NORRA and my partner Scott Whitney, my goal is to create North America’s premier Rally Raid.”

For NORRA, today’s announcement for 2015 and 2016 is filled with excitement and promise,” added NORRA President Mike Pearlman. “Now our mission to promote a vintage off-road event is combined with a new way for our Evolution, Rally Raid and Historic Trophy categories to compete at the same time – and in a totally unique and complimentary way.”
“We know the off-road world is ready from something like this,” Pearlman added. “NORRA has been running a rally-style format since our rebirth in 2010, and our intention is to continue producing world-class events that offer our racers hospitality, camaraderie and, most importantly, an adventure based on having fun.”
Known as the “Happiest Race on Earth,” the NORRA Mexican 1000 is scheduled to take place from Saturday, April 25 through Wednesday, April 29, 2015 and will run the length of the Baja peninsula from the seaside city of Ensenada to the land’s end near Cabo San Lucas. In keeping with NORRA’s tradition, registration for the 2015 NORRA Mexican 1000 and Cortez Challenge will open online on New Year’s Day at 12:00 noon (Pacific Standard Time).

2015 NORRA Cortez Challenge — Dates
April 21:           Rally School, Registration and Tech               Mexicali
April 22:           Rally Day 1                                                            San Louis Rio Colorado
April 23:           Rally Day 2                                                            San Louis Rio Colorado
April 24:           Rally Day 3                                                            Ensenada
April 25:           Prep and rest day                                                Ensenada
April 26:           Rally Day 4 (Mexican 1000 Day 1)                  Bahia de los Angeles
April 27:           Rally Day 5 (Mexican 1000 Day 2)                  Loreto
April 28:           Rally Day 6 (Mexican 1000 Day 3)                  La Paz
April 29:           Rally Day 7 (Mexican 1000 Day 4)                  San Jose Del Cabo

  • No GPS tracks to be provided
  • No maps
  • No pre-running
  • Competitors can choose to run the Cortez Rally, Cortez Challenge or the Mexican 1000 only.
  • All NORRA Evolution, Rally Raid and Historic Trophy classes will compete under an international rally-raid format beginning in 2015.


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, four-day rally includes vintage off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rally cars, a limited group of modern desert racecars and classes for prerunner trucks and buggies. 

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-1970s.