“Life is a storm my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout, as you did in Rome, ‘Do your worst…for I will do mine.’”
~Count of Monte Christo
In 1953 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio won the Pan Am for Lancia without winning one daily “leg.” But his accumulated time over the entire event was significantly lower than his nearest competitor. He knew how to pace himself and conserve his equipment when others were slowed by mechanical problems. This is exactly my philosophy and this is how Jon and I will run this race. Many were surprised by the fact that Gabriel Perez won overall last year in a car that ran far less horsepower in a slower class but it was no surprise to Jon and me at all. This long race that has so many variables is nothing short of war which requires a team to adapt to one's surroundings, then make the needed adjustments to carry out one's mission. Nobody will ever truly conquer the La Carrera Panamericana but just to survive is to be triumphant.
Speaking of Shelby GT350's.... Attrition knocked out the beautiful ’66 Shelby GT-350 “R” Code driven by Gerie Bledsoe and Chris Cooper, navigator). This car, a replica of the “R” Code driven by Mexican and US Champion regional Fred Van Bueren in 1966-1968, was running in third overall when it developed engine problems. Van Bueren’s original car sold recently at auction in London for $746,000.
Here are some of the original writing by James K. Lamona AUTO SPORT Review, United States, March of 1953 which pretty much still sums it up even today some 54 years later.
The 3114 km mexican road that stretches south to north from Tuxla to Juárez is, according to Alfred Neubauer, a combination of Tripoli's Grand Prix. the italian "Mille Miglia", the german "Nurburgring" and the Le-Mans 24 hrs.
Exactly, what makes The Mexican Road Race so tough? It is a combination of several things. The race begins on a tropical climate, where the temperature is high and humid and continues along a road that goes from sea level to a suffocating 3 thousands meters altitude! Temperature variations go from 34 celsius degrees to almost 2 degrees before freezing all in just 72 hours.
Even the most careful motor tuning, carburetion tests and spark plug selection need alterations every 160 km approximately. Motors that ran miraculously at 1000 mts sounded almost dead at 3000, and drivers that refused to change cooler spark plugs, soon realized after Durango the importance of this.
The Mexican Race was very though for the drivers as well as for the equipment. The road is paved with a mixture of volcanic ash and this substance that is highly abrasive will turn a perfectly new passenger car tier to a worn out one in a 1000 km distance.
Dangerous as it is, The Mexican Road Race has come to be considered as the premier event of world racing. Next years event will certainly gather a bigger group of skillful and defying drivers whom will be seeking the mythical “King of Drivers” crown.