Saturday, May 03, 2008


As long as we just happen to be speaking of tacos.......... When we raced in the 2007 La Carrera Panamericana one of the cars that stands out in my memory banks was the #421 1954 Oldsmobile R88 piloted by Clyde Morter and co-piloted by William "Bill" Peter which ran in the Original Pan Am class. Like other cars that raced that year there are many reasons why his car holds so many memories for me all which are good ones. One reason is simply because Clyde's car was one of the very first ones we saw at the hotel in Laredo Texas the night before we crossed the border into Mexico. That afternoon and evening held so may memories.

It was the hotel where many of us met for the first time and little did we know how many friendships would be born there Clyde and William being two of them. Not only did I get my first look at "THE LUCKY TACO" (nickname for Clyde's car) but later that evening I got my first hand full of some "fortune tacos". That's right, fortune tacos. Instead of fortune cookies these were little tacos with little fortunes inside. Without a doubt this had to be the most cleaver theme for sponsorship of any car in La Carrera Panamericana.

The Lucky Taco did very well all considered and with the help of his teammates Tom Hollfelder, Bill Peter and John Schantz they finished 4th in their class in spite of having missed one entire day of racing for lack of oil pressure. Not only did they podium three times but in fact they got first place in Zacatacas! John Schantz also recently took the "Lucky Taco" to the Chihuahua Express.

One of my son's favorite La Carrera stories is regarding Clyde's car. Clyde's car was definitely one of the favorite crowd pleasers while on display in San Miguel de Alende where fans would pick up hand fulls of fortune tacos that were scattered on the hood. After a couple awesome days there we got back on the road again with the Coyote Convoy on the very long drive to Oaxaca. For the most part everyone stays in a convoy but because teams would stop to gas up at various Pemex stations along the way every ones position in the convoy would change. The truth is trying to figure out who was in front or behind of you was half the fun that made the long trip seem to pass more quickly and was also a good thing in case anyone had any need for assistance. Finally as we were making good time as we traveled through the steep Sierra Madre mountains we came upon a long line of stopped traffic due to some road construction. Whenever we came upon these sorts of traffic stops they would allow traffic to move in one direction while the other direction was halted sometimes for as long as 30 minutes. As we sat there waiting our turn to go we couldn't help but wonder who was in front or behind. Then here came some young Mexican children with a cardboard sign selling something as they stopped at each car in the line. Will, my son, rolled down his window as they approached us and as he made a feeble attempt to read their Spanish sign and talk to them he began cracking up. Since I couldn't see what they were selling and didn't know what was being said I asked Will what was so funny. Will said, "Dad, look what their selling." as he held up a hand full of lucky fortune tacos. Riding with us was a couple the gals from Sweden and they began to laugh as well when one of them said, "Well, at least now we know The Lucky Taco car is in front of us." We all laughed for miles as we realized how much the children of Mexico had the same amount of entrepreneurship as those back in the U.S. selling lemonade. I remember saying, "I bet Clyde and those guys are saying, "Those kids will probably cherish those for many years to come." not realizing they were being sold as souvenirs just minutes behind them.

I have known of Clyde Morter and some of his writing for some time and well as his heavy involvment with vintage racing and him volunteering his time for many years. The funny thing is I was so damn busy with all else that was going on I never put two and two together until recently! I woiuld love to take part in some of his races in the future. One such orginization Clyde is very envolved with is the ELKHART LAKE HISTORIC RACE CIRCUITS not to mention his envolvment in THE GREAT RACE.

A long time ago I opened a Chinese fortune cookie and it said, "Help, I am a prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory." I had to laugh and wonder if any of Clydes said, "Help, I'm a prisoner in the #421 1954 Oldsmobile."

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