I just posted this on RDC
, where there's a poll regarding this subject...
Here are the instructions for navigating the 1971 NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally, and a sample from the 1971 roadbook. This came from Mike Pearlman’s box of early off-road racing history. So, this event is indeed “honoring the past” by using roadbooks for navigation. With a few tweaks, those 1971 instructions could apply to using today’s NORRA roadbook.
I do see Marty’s point about making it easy for everyone to find their way. GPS is easy. But is that really in the spirit of Baja racing? Isn’t Baja all about overcoming adversity, dealing with what’s thrown at you, and having a fun adventure while beating all those challenges? Maybe those who are looking for less challenge should enter the NORRA Charity Poker Run instead of the race. The roadbook is just another challenge. You can hate dust, hate bumps and old short-travel vehicles, hate dangerous twisty roads, hate sand, and hate navigation. Or you can embrace those things that challenge you, and have a ton of fun doing it.
Is GPS fun? Do you get to the finish line and say “Wow that was tough navigation, I really accomplished something following that line on the screen.” Although the NORRA roadbooks are pretty simple to follow (with a good odometer, even grandpa could do it), there is still a level of satisfaction and accomplishment when you find your way through each stage. It’s what the guys in the old days had to deal with, long before the days of GPS and a burned in course.
GPS should be added to the list of things that have “Wussified” the sport. I’d be all for the old way of “find your own way to the finish”. Unfortunately, in these days of expanding pavement, private property, locked gates, liabilities, etc., it’s not very practical to do that in Baja. It is possible elsewhere, and the Diabolical Rally will include that and other long-lost elements of early off-road racing, but that’s another subject and another race.
Everyone seems to have their own idea what the meaning of this event should be, and how NORRA should run it. Some say it’s all about honoring the past (old-school, vintage), some say it’s all about having fun (relax, enjoy), some are laser focused on winning at all cost (speed, race). Clearly Mike Pearlman has his own vision, which includes all of the above, plus aspects of rally (stages, roadbook navigation). Personally, I think he’s done a great job creating an event that sets itself apart from all the others. I sure hope he doesn’t give in to those who are afraid of a good, fun, old-school challenge!