Thursday, April 10, 2008
Let's get ready to rumble!
From the way things are looking up just like the volcano Popocatepetl which is located near Puebla whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain I have the feeling this years La Carrera Panamericana is going to be nothing short of explosive. Don't forget, Popocatepetl spouted off last year causing thousands of people in Puebla to be evacuated.
I have to tell you, this years La Carrera Panamericana is looking like one hell of a great race. Anyone who wins a stage is going to have to overcome some serious competition to do so. Having competed at a world class level in another sport and having raced cars with some of the best teams/drivers in the world I have learned there is nothing that can turn things up a notch more than stiffer competition it's self. Show me a sport with very little competition and I will show you a sport that is boring to watch. This year's LCP is looking anything but boring.
In the Turismo Mayor you have a very good size class of cars with some excellent drivers and crews and after giving it some serious thought I wouldn't be so fast to assume just because someone has a lot of races under their belt that they will win. Well set up cars, a great crew and a lot of luck will be required in all cases however, to have competed in the LCP on numerous occasions has to be a BIG asset in winning this race.
Turismo de Producción class looks like a blast to run as well and this class has some sleepers that can't be overlooked either.
Historic A and A Plus have their hands full too and this class will be exciting to keep and eye on.
Historic B has something else going for it that really has my attention and I can't wait to see the outcome. This class has some beautiful cars including some awesome Jaguars but what has my attention is a whole battalion of Mercedes and Porsches that are running against a lone wolf Corvair. I recall a campaign add that Chevrolet had the first year the Corvair came out that said, "CORVAIR... THE CAR THAT WILL SEND THE VOLKSWAGON BACK TO GERMANY." If ever there was a time to shine this could be it. I can think of no better car to paint "The Little Engine That Could" than that Corvair.
Ahhh, Historic C... Anyone who knows me knows how dear to me this class is. As usual there is no more competitive class than Historic C and without a doubt this is THE Battle Royal. With almost 25 cars in this field there is an awesome representation of Fords in the form of Mustangs, GT350s, Monte Carlo Falcons and even a Tiger. As far as Chevy's go so far there are four, one of which is none other than Gerie Bledso himself and we all know Gerie knows how to turn things up a notch or two. Another thing that's very interesting about this class is how many different countries the teams are coming from. Literally all over the world. Jon, did we start something here?
Sport Menor has some absolute bitcin rides in it this year including a bunch of tricked out looking Porsches including our good friend Andrew Prill from the UK and I am anxious to see how well that beautiful little Austin Healy from Belgium is going to do. (Think Tope)
Original Panamericana... Now if there is a class that would be considered the Crown Jewel of La Carrera Panamericana this would be it. While these cars may not have all the trick suspension and horsepower that some other classes offer without a doubt they have more elegance and class by far. These are the true historians that carry the real torch which in turn keep the true Spirit of La Carrera alive.
To anyone who has not had the pleasure of running in La Carrera Panamericana let me offer some advice. MAKE SURE you take time to spend some time checking out these cars like the Original Panamericana. Ask questions, learn about their involvement and history and the men that drove them back in their era as well as this year. So many times we become so involved in the cars in the overall or just in the top three that many times some of these awesome machines and their drivers are overlooked until we return home only to miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.
On the other hand don't make the mistake of missing out on any of the classes or cars that run this amazing race. In my opinion one of the single biggest problems with the La Carrera is when the teams drive into a city to a welcome of hundreds of thousands of serious race fans. Before your car comes to a stop you will be surrounded by people wanting autographs and photos and simply just happy to shake your hand or meet you. And I must say it's very good for one's self esteem and ego. But take in the whole experience by taking a walk around and head to the front and the back where you can meet other teams and check out their cars and hear stories. When we ran in the 2007 LCP by the time we had spent two hours signing autographs and posing for pictures some teams had not even reached the finish arch yet. For this reason there were times we had already headed off to our hotel rooms and never even knew what some drivers looked like let alone their cars. For months after we returned form last years race I saw photos on blogs of cars I had never seen before that had ran in the very same race as us. So don't make the same mistake and find time to see EVERY car.
The next time we run La Carrera Panamericana I have made up my mind I will not waste my time attending the awards banquet and dinner ceremonies. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing tragically wrong with them. On the other hand when you have been in a car racing for 8 hours or more the last thing I want to do is sit in some crowed place when I can be checking out some of the simply breathtaking sites in these old colonel cities and get in some shopping or even the unheard of... Just stay in your hotel room for a whole evening and relax. Keep in mind there are some dinner/award ceremonies well worth attending and The Bull Ring in Zacatecas comes to mind.
And don't forget to check out the wonderful people who are entered in The Unlimited Class. These are the cars that will be the future of La Carrera Panamericana. Recently when we had the privilege of spending the weekend with Frank Ruppert it was as if we had stepped into a time machine where were transported to a time where all the cars were brand new ones all of them trying to steal top honors to prove to the world who was dominant.