Mike Ryan and FireForce Racing Finish the NORRA Mexican 1000 in a 45-year-old F-100

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The 45-year-old F-100 first raced back in the 80's.
The 45-year-old F-100 first raced back in the 80's.
Firefighters don't simply stumble into their profession, they join the fire service because they followed a dream, and chose to serve their community. After surviving batteries of high stress testing and a rigorous training program, they are there because they have proven to be the cream of the crop. And each time they're frantically called to duty the unrelenting reality of danger looms in the air like, well, smoke.

So how do firefighters unwind during their off time? If you're in the group of active and retired firefighters calling themselves, Fireforce Racing, you go compete in a four day, 1,242 mile off-road race in Baja, Mexico.
K&N's Mike Ryan along with teammates Bruce Galien and Bob Motheral finished 6th in the Vintage Open Truck class in the 2013 NORRA Mexican 1000.
K&N's Mike Ryan along with teammates Bruce Galien and Bob Motheral finished 6th in the Vintage Open Truck class in the 2013 NORRA Mexican 1000.
This year's team consisted of Bruce Galien (driver of record), Bob Motheral (Baja veteran, big Ol' bad ass Bob) and K&N sponsored racer, Mike Ryan (stunt driver and Pikes Peak record holder). "Mike Reitmayer, Doak Smith and my wife Debbie made up our capable chase crew," adds retired firefighter Galien. "This year our team name was "Perros Locos" borrowed from FS 98, and representing the Los Angeles Fire Dept. in our Truck No.98."

The trio entered their jointly owned 1968 Ford F-100 pickup truck in the 2013 NORRA Mexican 1000. The National Off Road Racing Association was the original sanctioning body for the legendary Baja 1000 beginning in 1967 through 1970 led by Ed Perlman. His son, Mike Perlman, brought NORRA back in 2010 as a four day, rally style event designated primarily for vintage race vehicles. The intent of the Mexican 1000 Rally is to return the off-road legend to its motorsports roots – meaning loads of camaraderie and rip-roaring fun, in a context of serious competition. The event continues to attract many of the legends of the sport including, Walker Evans, Malcom Smith, and Parnelli Jones, along with many of the original race vehicles restored to their former glory. Although the race is centered around the vintage vehicles, it has been opened up to any year of motorcycle or vehicle, divided into a Vintage Division and Evolution Division for the newer vehicles.
The vintage Ford and represented the Los Angeles Fire Dept. truck No.98.
The vintage Ford and represented the Los Angeles Fire Dept. truck No.98.

The vintage Ford driven by the team of Galien, Motheral and Ryan was originally raced in the 80's as a Class 8, which required it to retain the stock frame and cab. "It has a full roll cage made of 2" DOM mild steel, front to rear which adds rigidity to the frame, safety for the occupants, and attachment points for the suspension," Galien explains. "The rear suspension is a three link set up for approximately 24" of wheel travel and a 9" Ford rear end with a spool and 4:11 gears. Using 33"x12.50 x 15" BFG All Terrain tires we had a top speed close to 100 mph. The front suspension is the classic Ford twin I-beam, although strengthened and adjusted for maximum wheel travel. All four wheels were controlled by a remote reservoir coil over shocks and 2" bump stops. Power to the wheels is supplied by a Ford 351 Cleveland, developing approximately 425 hp."

This year the 2013 General Tire NORRA Mexican 1000 hosted 148 entries, an impressive increase from the 95 contestants last year. After four days of competition through some of the most demanding terrain on earth, the 4th annual running of the vintage-flavored off-road rally traversing the legendary Baja peninsula, came to an end in San Jose del Cabo. There, more than 850 guests enjoyed cocktails, food, racer awards and a massive fireworks display courtesy of NORRA and the South Point Casino Hotel, during a colossal seaside "Post" party.

"In the Vintage Division there were 60 entries this year," Galien remarked. "In our class of Vintage Open Truck we competed against 12 other trucks, including Walker Evans the eventual overall Vintage winner. We came out 25th in our division and 6th in our class, with an average speed of 49.5 mph. It was one hell of an adventure and we hope to do it again next year."

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