Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gotta love those black cars!

One of my favorite movie quotes was from a Batman movie when Robin said, "I want a car. Chicks dig the car." and them Batman said, "This is why Superman works alone." Keeping that in mind check out this real bad ass Batmobile!

Recently I asked for La Carrera Panamericana stories and I am getting a great response. The following was sent in by Othon Garcia who drove car #115, the beautiful black 1954 Buick Century. Everyone just loved this car and personally I felt as if I knew the car long before I first put my hands on it. While doing research on the La Carrera race several times I would get very excited when I would find videos of Othon's car on the Internet. Anyone who has seen those videos will tell you without a doubt it is one of the best sounding cars you will even hear. Furthermore, having raced with him I can tell you it looks and sounds even better in person. I remember listening to this car and I love watching it perform on La Buffa when it sounds like it's a mad bunch of hornets. Man does this car sound awesome! It pleases me very much to get Othon's story to share with everyone. What a cool ride and having met him I can tell you Othon is just as cool as his car. A special thanks to Bret Haller at THE UNLIMITED CLASS BLOG for the photos. And be sure to check out Othon's awesome in-car video.

One more thing I would like to say with regards to Othon is that he truly represented his country of Mexico with a lot of dignity. Not only was he a good competitor with an awesome car but he was exactly the type of man that was best suited to represent his country. For that matter, all of the Mexican team members I met in Mexico were some of the finest gentleman in racing I have had the pleasure of racing with. Thanks for the story Othon and wqe look forward to racing with you again my friend.

Der Gary,

I am taking your offer of sending you a story about something related to La Carrera. I am the owner of the black Buick Century. And, as you, I am in love with my car. So I want to share with you how this love story has evolved:

How I got in love with this Buick? Well it goes like this:

In 1994 I was working in Marketing at P&G. My boss at that time went to have dinner to an X restaurant and a waiter drop some wine in his lap. The owner of the restaurant came to apologize and somehow they started talking about cars. The owner mentioned that since 1992 he raced La Carrera Panamericana and after a couple of glasses of wine my boss decided to sponsor this guy. A couple of weeks later my boss was moved to an international assignment and I took control of the brand. It was then when I discovered that we were sponsoring a car! So I called the driver (the restaurant guy) and told him that I was now in charge of the brand, etc. etc. He invited me to that year’s presentation of la Carrera since his car was going to be present there. Weeks later, at the presentation, I met the Buick for the 1st time. It was the first time I have seen a Buick Century 54 and I immediately got in love with it! I sponsor the Buick from 94 to 96.

In 97 I left P&G and the Buick also changed hands. It was bought by another Carrera racer (Jorge Silva) and he invested quite a lot of money on it. He finished 2nd that year. But he wanted to win so he decided to make himself a 53 Studebaker (much lighter, more aerodynamic). He took all the racing parts from the Buick to make his new car…

In 98 the Buick (or what was left of it) was pretty much abandoned.
In 99 I called the owner and ask if I could race the Buick. “Well –he said– if you construct it again”. So I managed a sponsor and invested 35K in the car. That year, 99, I race for the first time the Buick (and race for the fist time anything for that matter!). It wasn’t a good race. Out of 7 days, I only raced 4. Mechanically the car was a mess. Very frustrating.
Early on 2000 the owner sold the Buick to a guy from Belgium. They raced it on 2000 and on 2001 they raced it again but crashed big time at la Bufa. This Belgian knew I loved the Buick so he called me and ask me if I wanted to buy the car as it was (very well crashed). Without seeing the car nor asking his price I said YES!!! (10K was the price by the way).

On 2002 and a part of 2003 I spent quite a bit of money to leave the Buick as I wanted. I raced it again (but now as owner!) that year. The raced lasted 5 hours…. a car in front of me blew the engine and I grabbed all his oil in a fast curve. Back to the shop!

In 2004 I was about to race the car but one night prior to start “it was decided” that It was better for me to race another car (the Buick did not felt “safe” they told me) so I ended up racing a Studebaker instead. Loooong, looong, very long story.
In 2005 I invested again more money, change brakes, engine and a new roll cage. It was an ok year but the new engine (done in the US by a guy that does NASCAR engines) was no good. Basically was VERY powerful but at VERY high revs (just like for an oval….

So in 2006 I decided to send the car to the Vega Family with the following instructions: Assume that the car is yours. <>. They pretty much changed everything (again!!!!) but finally, finally, finally!!! I’ve got my racing car just like the one I dreamed for back in 1994.
This year the car was great and I can not wait to race it again in 2008 (by the way, I DO NOT drive the car except for La Carrera. So every year I can get the rush of driving it again!).

My driving record/experience? Only la Carrera as described. Nothing else. Actually I get teased because I really drive slowly on my everyday car (never above 65). So when people ask me where did I learned to drive and how come I can place the Buick on top places, I tell them: “It is not me. It is the Buick! After all it has been running the race since 92, so he knows the roads already!”


Bret said...

THAT is a GREAT story Othon! Thanks for posting it up Gary!

Gary Faules said...

Ya just have to love a car with lots of history.

ortizgarage said...

Saludos Othon, felicidades!

luckytimmy69 said...

This is so great to hear this story! I've been researching about this '54 for a week now and am just amazed at the car and the race in general. Hope both the car and the race continue for years to come. Thanks for sharing