Thursday, May 08, 2008

Women of La Carerra Panamericana

A lot of men have been immortalized since the beginning of La Carrera Panamericana but it's equally important to remember there have been some amazing women pilotos and co-pilotos as well. I stand in awe of those women as well as the ones I have had the privilege of racing with in La Carrera Panamericana. I will be posting some stories about these amazing women and the teams they competed with and to get things started here are some interesting facts about the first women to drive in La Carrera Panamericana.

Her name is Jacqueline Evans de Lopez an English-born film actress who had married a Mexican and became a well known Mexican actress, often playing gringas in Spanish language Mexican films and soaps including a career spiced with the occasional Hollywood outing. She is also remembered for her help in establishing and funding the archive of Mexican and foreign magazines and newspapers, "La Torre del Papel" in Mexico City. Jacqueline died in Acapulco in 1989.

In the early '50's, Porsche's reputation for reliability in racing hadn't yet been established. By the end of 1952, about 2,740 cars had been built; only about six percent of them had made it to the U.S., primarily to the sports car-rich Northeast and to car-crazy California. Porsche owners reasoned that if a Porsche could beat a Cadillac it most certainly could do the same for a longer distance, like La Carrera Panamericana.

By 1952, the annual event had been placed on the international racing calendar and had captured the attention of some very fast factories and it was also the year Porsche made its first appearance in Mexico. In 1953 Porsche which was barely five years old but busy building a reputation. They had won their class at both Le Mans and the Millie Miglia in 1952 so Porsche wanted to make an all out attack on a victory at La Carrera Panamericana and so they sent ten Porsches to La Carrera Panamericana in 1953. It was this year that Jacqueline Evans de Lopez would make her fourth attempt to finish Carrera in her personal coupe unfunded by as where the factory Porsches. Unable to complete any of the races she was given the nickname Jacqueline "did not finish" Evans de Lopez.

It is said, only the strong could survive La Carrera Panamericana but in this writer's opinion she was as strong as they come. I can only imagine what determination and guts it must have taken a woman competing against men in that day and age must have been like let alone coming back four years in a row. Partially because of the stubbornness, courage and perseverance of Jacqueline Evans de Lopez, Porsche commemorated it's wins and rightfully gave the name Porsche Carrera to honor their success in La Carrera Panamericana.

As seen in the photo of a commemorative model of Jacquelene's 1954 Porsche below, Jacquelene dedicated the race to Eva Peron by having Eva's face painted on the hood of her car. On the subject of women, talk about an interesting lady.... check out Eva Peron's bio.

Be sure to check out the interview with the beautiful Angelica Fuentes who co-piloted Doug Mockett in 2007 in our up-coming HD DVD.

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