Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Curse of The Carrera

It is a well known fact that some sports are more dangerous than others but even more so when considering the La Carrera Panamericana. Going to to race in the La Carrera Panamericana expecting not to crash of have a near miss is like going to the beach and not expecting to get sand in your shoes. Some stories had more drama than others but for some the later is imperative...

One such story was car 108 a Studebaker that lost control and spun off the road and into some trees. They went to get help and were only gone for a few minutes but while they were gone their car was stripped of wheels and tires, Hans devices, helmets as well as their instrumentation. Needless to say their race was over.

Another travesty was car number 432 a very cool car which was the 52 Chevy which was done to look like an original Pan Am car. One day they were racing along and the hood flew open shattering the windshield but like true racers they continued on in spite. On the famous Mil Cumbre they hit a pole which caused them to go straight over a cliff that had no trees to slow them down. After rolling 6 times they finally came to rest and suffered only some battery acid burns. But from what I was told it got much worse after they climbed back up to the side of the road. As they looked back down to where the car rest they saw several people striping the car right before them and not a thing they could do to stop them.

But it seems that the Curse of La Carrera had been saved for someone special. It was car number 366 (You know what they say about three sixes) a Corvette in Historica C class running just in front of me. As we were racing on a very twisty section of road I could see a large ominous black cloud looming in sky just ahead and as we began a decent down a steep hill that leveled out into a straight there were the tell tale signs that told a story. The long black skid marks showed that a car had lifted which brought the tail-end around and struck what was possibly the only tree for several hundred yards. This caused the car to flip and go out through a field of very tall grass, the same type that looks like sugar cane. For a second it looked as if someone had driven a large lawn mower straight off the road creating a driveway thru the tall grass. But what laid just beyond the grass was in fact not a pretty site to behold.

The Vette was engulfed in full flames and there was nothing to do as there was a corner worker within a few yards of the incident. As the photos show the car was toast and even if you stood there in person you could not tell what type of remains were left. Upon further examination you could see that even the transmission had burnt so bad it had melted. But this was not by any means the only part of this curse let alone the end. Backing up to the night we spent in Texas before crossing into Mexico several of us had taken the hotel shuttle bus to go across the border to get our car stickers and visas. The owner of the vette had misplaced or lost his paperwork for his car so one of the Canadians came to his aid and bought the car and put it in his name so that they could get the car across the border. It may not seem like a problem but it is since the Canadian now must prove the burnt remains that was brought back across the border was in fact one and the same. But as their luck (or lack of) would have it when Will and I got to San Antonio Texas we saw the charred remains of the Vette but Will noticed something strange then he said, "Dad, that's the Vette but it's not the same truck and trailer!" The next day I was talking to Gerie Bledso and when I asked him if he knew anything about it he told us that he heard they had crashed their truck and trailer while towing the burnt remains back over the border. All this the day after the day of the dead. Sometime Lady Luck shines down upon us and sometimes not but it is adventures like these ones that reminds us of what a major accomplishment it is to take part in the running of the La Carrera Panamericana... not for the faint of heart. The good news is other than some burns the driver amd co driver were ok. In looking at the photos you can see there was no fuel cell but instead a stock gas tank. Let those you who think of the La Carrera Panamericana as a "rally" be warned.

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