When you think of Citroën rally cars, the last thing that comes to your mind is the lovely DS, yet that's just what someone chose to tackle the Baja in the inaugural 1967 running of the National Off-Road Racing Association's Mexican 1000. This film, "27 Hours to La Paz," chronicles that first race.
My, how things have changed. The announcer is glad one of the few cars with a roll cage didn't have to use it, which points to the fact that all the safety gear we accept as a given today was still new and unusual in 1967.
There's a Ford Ranchero, loaded up with all manner of desert race survival gear, from spare wheels to tools. There's the standard and expected bone-stock Volkswagen Beetle in the mix. There are numerous Meyers Manxes, too. For some reason, I didn't realize those cars were that tough, but they were some of the first cars to cross the finish.
Another interesting tidbit? Two-wheel-drive beat four-wheel-drive across the finish line. This is clearly before the era when all-wheel-drive off-road monsters took over the sport.
Enjoy this look into the first years of racing the Baja, and a rare glimpse into the early days of off-road racing. Only sixty-eight entries showed up to the first race, but according to BangShift, the race's entries exploded after tales of the first year spread among the racing community.
Everyone knows about the Baja 1000, but the Mexican 1000 continues today as an off-road race geared towards vintage and alternative-fuel vehicles.
I'll bet the roads haven't improved as the narrator in "27 Hours to La Paz" thought they would.