Monday, January 07, 2008
Can history repeat itself?
In the racing world change is never stopping. Manufactures and builders never stop finding ways to make technological advances and cars get faster and fats er. But even with so many advancements some things simply never change.
When someone ask, "Exactly, what makes The Mexican Road Race so tough?" The response usually goes something like this...
It is a combination of several things. The race begins in 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 34celsius 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.
Having run the La Carrera I can tell you this very accurate description pretty much sums it up in a nutshell. But what makes those exact words so much more interesting is who said them first. They were originally written by James K. Lamona for the AUTO SPORT Review in March of 1953. Even more interesting is what he said Herr Alfred Neubauer had to say. Alfred Neubauer should know what what he was talking about since it was under his leadership as the Competition Director of Mercedes Benz German Teams that they defeated the most formidable English, Italian and French participants in Europe for the last 25 years of his reign. In his own words he said,
"The 3114 km Mexican road that stretches south to north from Tuxla to Juárez is a combination of Tripoli's Grand Prix, The Italian "Mille Miglia", The German "Nurburgring" and the Le-Mans 24 hrs."
All this being said, it appears history really does repeat it's self and I can tell you that most who have taken part in the La Carrera wouldn't want it any other way.
The painting about shows a young Alfred Neubauer (in suit and hat) discussing tactics with Fangio and Moss before the start of the 1955 Grand Prix and organising the Mercedes mechanics.