Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some history is just more "Special" than others

During this years La Carrera I had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people. But wouldn't you agree, when you get right down to it, anyone who is crazy enough to say, "Hey... let's build an expensive race car, take it down to the bottom of Mexico and haul ass back toward the United States breaking every law we can as we go during the day and hey, then we can party every night!" has got to be considered amazing.

One of those amazing teams who shared our enthusiasm was car #205 an LT Special driven by Sam Burg and navigated by co-piloto Dyana Marlett both of which are veterans of previous La Carreras. As per Mats Hammarlund's site, the The LT-Special is a very famous racecar with an interesting history.

It was first built by Juan Lerdo deTejada in Mexico City 1954. The purpose was to take on the European sports cars that were dominating the ''La Carrera Panamericana''. It was scheduled to be introduced to the world in the ''La Carrera'' of 1955. Unfortunately, the great Mexican Road race was canceled because of to many accidents and therefore the LT never got to race on the open roads. It did race very successfully on various road courses in Mexico for many years.

In the early nineties, the car was found by the son of the original owner. It was in terrible condition but was carefully rebuilt by Juan Lerdo deTejada Jr. Juan raced it in the modern version of the ''La Carrera Panamericana''. So finally, in -98 some 43 years after it was built, it got to stretch out on the open roads like it was designed for. Unfortunately, a minor accident prohibited the car to show its true potential.

In 2002 Juan contacted Mats Hammarlund Racing to discuss the possibilities of a continuation of the LT-Special. Juan wanted the car to race again but simply did not want to risk, the only car ever built. In December of 2003 started the new production of the LT-Special and the first one is already sold.

The new LT has a modern chassis with a factory GM V8 engine, 5 speed transmission and 4 wheel disc brakes.

Sam did a fine job guiding his car as we made the mad dash back towards the United States Border and his car always drew a big crowd when we reached the city squares. On the other hand Dyana drew a pretty big crowd herself. Some teams have all the luck. Both of them were always a pleasure to be around whether it was on the road or just hanging out.

One of the first things you learn when you run in the La Carrera is always be ready for something because you never know what you are going to run into something around the next corner. One day Sam gave us a bit of a scare as he found out exactly what that something was around the corner. It was a BRIDGE! Jon and I were making good time as Jon was calling out the road turn by turn and then all of a sudden I came hauling around what was a very fast right hand sweeper and instantly all of our senses quickly became much more acute if that's possible. It was clear something was not par for the course as my brain quickly began to compute all that my eyes were seeing. Part of my vision took in chunks of car all over the roadway while my attention was grabbed by waving arms trying to slow us down. Then off to the left side of the road at the end of some very fresh and long black skid marks was Sam's car broken and had slammed into both sides of a bridge embankment narrowly going over what would have been a fatal landing into a very deep canyon. In this case the photos tell quite a story. Just take a look at how close those skid marks were to the end of that bridge and opening to the canyon below!

My first thought was one of hoping everyone is OK and the second is trying hard to see if everyone is accounted for all the while as I attempted to drive thru the scattered pieces of car not knowing what damage it might due to our car. Once everything was computed and everyone was safe and accounted for it was back on the throttle and wide open across the bridge and up the hill.

Regardless of how bad you want to move ahead in the overall standings you can't help but feel a wrench in your gut when you see any competitor waving madly on a blind corner with their car badly broken. At the same time that you try to put them behind you and stay focused on your job you can't help but worry if everyone else will get thru as safe as we did.

As things turned out not only did everything turn out OK but in fact it is those exact types of teams that make us appreciate what it is we are all doing here. That night back in the parking lot Sam and Dyana's support team stayed up late removing, repairing and reassembling the car and by the next morning it was as ready to race again as it was the morning before. Even better yet was the two big smiles on Sam and Dyana's faces as they were none the worse for wear and raring to get under way. It just doesn't get any better than that!


George Sullivan said...

Sam was the person who gave us an alternator when we lost ours while running Mil Cumbres. We searched all over for one and the only person who had an alternator that would fit our car was Sam. So I hunted him down and asked if we could buy it from him and he said no but you can have it "Now get your car fixed" People like Sam are what make the La Carrera a true experience. I just want to say "Thanks Again to Sam"

Gary Faules said...

As I recall from a photo I saw your car got stuck next to a cow. You should have used the cow to get "moooooving" again. LOL.

George Sullivan said...

It was an interesting day to say the least. The cow laying in the middle of the road and then a guy walking down the road with a machette. Memories of a lifetime!!
If we used the cow to get moving it then would have been the La Cowrerra.