Determine Your Vehicle's Era.
NORRA CHALLENGERS - 1983 Thru 1988

Agua Dulce, CALIF. – The Challengers stepped up to take on the Legends. The Challenger Era ushered in new technology including bigger shocks, bigger engines, and new suspension designs; all leading to higher speeds. Buggies began running water cooled engines. Trucks saw the emergence of quarter elliptical springs. What are those you may ask? Basically, an ellipse is an oval shape. Your basic leaf springs are semi- elliptical because their stacked leaves form half of an ellipse. Quarter elliptical leaf springs are one quarter of an ellipse, or half of your typical leaf spring pack. They are typically mounted to the chassis on one end, and the rear axle at the other. They were used because they satisfied the rules for using the factory design (leaf springs), but offered much more suspension travel. They had drawbacks like being very heavy, but at the time they did show promise, and were just plain cool. They were also responsible for the transition to big rear axle travel numbers in the full size class 8 trucks. Shock technology came along that replaced multiple 2 inch shocks for larger 2.5 inch shocks with improved internals. Several of the manufacturers were involved in truck racing so we start to see some high tech engineering going into some of the truck builds. Both full size class 8 trucks, and the smaller class 7 trucks had big budget build quality, and design.

The Challengers stepped up to take on the Legends…


Challenger Era Buggies are allowed air cooled engines up to 3.5 liters in displacement. This includes VW type 4, and 6 cylinder, air cooled Porsche engines. If you run a water-cooled engine, the displacement limit is 2.5 liters. Unlimited buggies were starting to run water cooled engines from Toyota, and other Japanese manufacturers during this time frame. You can run any transaxle as long as it is non-sequential shifting. Front beam dimensions are unlimited, but no a-arm buggies are allowed. IRS is standard in the rear, but no solid axles, (known as truggy’s because they are buggies in front, and have a truck straight axle suspension in the rear). 2.5 inch shocks are legal including coilovers, but no bypass shocks. 35 inch tall tires are legal.

The Challenger Era trucks are allowed 2.5 inch shocks. 2.5 inch coilovers in front are allowed, but no bypass shocks yet. 35 inch tires are the maximum, and the aforementioned quarter elliptical springs can be used. Trucks and cars must use a stock chassis, and maintain the stock suspension concept. The body style must have existed during the Challenger Era. The Challenger 4x4 class is pretty much the same.

There is an exemption for all original cars that ran in the era that might have parts that don’t fit these criteria, but those exemptions have to be approved by NORRA. Tribute cars built today are not allowed exemptions. They have to conform to all Challenger Era rules. Entire rule books are available at if you have any questions about your vehicle just contact NORRA for assistance. Whether you are building a brand new tribute car, or can find, and restore an original, the Challenger Era cars, buggies, and trucks are fast, and fun to drive. There are cars, and trucks sitting out there waiting to be saved, and can be purchased for much less than it would cost to build from scratch. They are typically simple in their design, and parts are still available.

CHALLENGERS Era (1983 - 1988)


Challenger Buggy class

  • V3.5L max air cooled, 2.5L max water cooled
  • Non-production buggy chassis
  • Any transaxle but non-sequential
  • Front beams of unlimited dimensions, no a-arms
  • Rear IRS, no solid axle
  • 35” max tire diameter
  • 2.5” max shock diameter, coilovers ok but still no bypasses

Challenger Cars class

  • Cars conforming to Challenger Era limitations

Challenger Truck class

  • Body style must have existed in this Era
  • Stock chassis, stock concept suspension, quarter elliptics OK
  • 35” max tire diameter
  • 2.5” max shock diameter, coilovers ok but still no bypasses

Challenger 4x4 class

  • Body style must have existed in this Era
  • Stock chassis, stock concept suspension, quarter elliptics OK, solid axle 4wd
  • 35” max tire diameter
  • 2.5” max shock diameter, front coilovers OK but still no bypasses

Challenger Era Categories (racing for Challenger O/A)

Challenger Buggies
Challenger Cars
Challenger Trucks
Challenger 4x4s

Everything you need to know about the Mexican 1000, and NORRA 500 can be found at Go to the site and find out for yourself why NORRA has exploded in popularity. You can experience the same wonder and sense of achievement those early thrill seekers sought in the 1960’s today when you join NORRA in Baja. NORRA events honor the past, while forging the future. Don’t miss out on the fun.

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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, five-day rally includes vintage off-road vehicles and motorcycles, as well as modern pre-runners, trucks, buggies, UTVs, bikes and desert Rally Raid cars.

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-1970's.

NORRA enjoys corporate partnerships with Yokohama Tire, Method Race Wheels, South Point Hotel & Casino, Bilstein Shock Absorbers, STEEL-IT, RIGID, Multitool USA, Satellite Phone, Biltwell, Cerveceria Transpeninsular, PCI Race Radios, The Fab School, Schampa, K&N, Baja Bush Pilots, Mag7 Pits, the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF), B3KREATIV, and many more.