Monday, June 30, 2008

Return to San Miguel de Allende

I hesitated with the title for this post only because I wish I was headed back to run this year's La Carrera again. (Heavy sigh.) Last year when my son Will and I spent a couple days relaxing in San Miguel de Allende with the rest of the Coyote Convoy I swore I would return. As a matter of fact it stood out so much in my mind that I promised myself that I would return with my wife even before we got back to the U.S.A.. But today it's official... I just picked up my plane tickets and my bags are packed. I have talked with many who will be there and look forward to seeing each and everyone of them. The only thing that could make this trip better for me would be for Jon and his wife to join us.

For those of you who have not been to San Miguel de Allende yet get ready to fall in love with a place that will demand that you return again. Trust me on this, you will not be able to refuse yourself such pleasure. I can't wait to see the cars begin to pull into Hotel Refugio and see all the faces old and new alike. The only difference is that this time I will be relaxed, rested and not the least bit concerned as to what lay ahead on the drive to the southern most border.

I can remember all too well the day we pulled our trailer into the secured parking lot along with the rest of the convoy. People were tired from a long days drive and understandably many were stressed out simply from know knowing what to expect. Gerie Bledso handled things just the way they should be and really knew best how to let things unfold. For the most part Gerie said, "There's the parking lot. There's the Hotel across the street and I'm going to have a beer. See you all later." As expected all the rookies were nervously wondering how they would get out of the parking lot on the morning when they left as well as wanting to know how things looked inside their trailers and so on. If Gerie would have hung around the parking lot I'd be willing to bet he'd still be there answering questions to this day. LOL.

How exciting can a parking lots be you ask? Well, let me tell you how exciting it can be. Many of us wanted to get our cars unloaded for the car show in the Jardin the following day and there were a bunch of teams that still needed to perform some work or service on their race cars if you can imagine that. One team had forgotten to bring their ramps which made for an interesting exhibition. Then there was Richard Row and Ernie Harris with a beautiful red Chevrolet who unloaded their car but forgot to set the brake. Everyone just about died laughing as we watched them run after their car narrowly catching it before it went thru a fence and down over a cliff. Who said La Carrera is just a rally? LOL. A guy can total his car in the freaking parking lot just getting to the starting line.

San Miguel de Allende will capture your soul. You can not find a better atmosphere anywhere in the world especially while there with the Coyote Convoy. The entire city will be waiting for you when you get there and you will feel the love the day you leave. If there is one thing you MUST be sure and do it is "take the walk." One evening there will be a local group of musicians who will meet all of us in front of the hotel. Then in their colorful outfits accompanied with a dressed up donkey they will begin singing and serenading all of us while walking all the way down the hill to the Jardin. Also on the way it is a custom for many of the locals to join in and walk along with us singing all the way. (Be sure and bring your video camera.) Along the way we will stop to appreciate some of the fantastic view points along the way as well as walk down some of the most beautiful cobblestone streets lined with showcase entrance ways before continuing on.

At the Jardin (Town square)everyone can go to many fine restaurants, so many in fact you will find it hard to pick just one. Later in the evening many La Carrerstias ended up in the local hot spot complete with disco to let it all hang down. Not to worry because you still have another day to sober up and you can always take a taxi back to the hotel so you don't have to walk back up that hill. Aye Ca rumba!

On the next day when all of the race cars are parked in the Jardin you will not believe how well you will be treated by everyone let alone how many people will come out to see your car and visit with you. Be sure and have hero cards made to hand out and autograph. You can NOT take too many.

Many friendships are formed in San Miguel de Allende. Teams begin to get acquainted and some help with each other's cars and some will offer to take part of other's supplies in their trailers. Some teams will decide to put their cars back on trailers instead of the long drive and so on. In our case we ended up helping some teams put some of their parts in our truck and them we got lucky and had two gals from Sweden ride with us all the way to Oaxaca. More on that adventure later.

For more information on all the excitement going on at Concurso de Motor Sports en San Miguel de Allende click here.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

La Carrera and the Bull Riding Monkeys... one and the same?

I had a great laugh when George Sullivan sent me this photo today. Anyone that has ever competed in La Carrera Panamericana most certainly would have to agree with the saying on it. I feel the same way with regards to La Carrera. God only knows, it's a pretty hard event to top. For that matter, sometimes when you are running hard on some of those dangerous Mexican roads, I felt like a monkey on the back of a bull.

Tyler's Day at Sears Point

What does any self respecting racer do the weekend after the NASCAR guys have raced on one of the local tracks? You get there as fast as you can so you can take advantage of several millions of dollars worth of fresh rubber that was laid down last weekend that's what. This weekend, my son Will, is race director while NASA is running at Sears Point so my wife and grandson Tyler dropped in to have some fun.

Now Tyler has grown up around race cars it seems but he was ether busy growing in his mommy's tummy or being pushed around in his stroller so today was his first time to really check out some cars. Funny but he told his Nana "These race cars noisy."

It turned out that it was the perfect day for Tyler since it seemed like we saw our fair share of "Small" cars. Just as we came thru the gates we saw a line of smart cars and later in the day as we drove by one of our friend's shops at the track we noticed someone was having a smart car get together. Wow, was there a lot of them. The truth is I didn't know there were that many in existence. Tyler seemed to like the one that was painted like a cow.

While we walked thru the paddock visiting with old friends Tyler seemed to take a liking to numerous cars but he really enjoyed one of the Mustangs that was painted like many of my race cars were, red with two white racing strips. Hey, the kids got taste.

He also liked the Legends race cars since they seemed to be almost the right size for him to drive. Why do I have the feeling we will be building a car in the very near future?

One car that pleased me to see was a green Volvo that raced with us last year in the 2007 La Carrera Panamericana which is owned by none other than Che and Cairenn Voigt. Even better, we got to spend a few minutes visiting with them. Gerie Bledso was also at the event but when I stopped to visit with him he must have been out on the track with a student but that's ok because we will get to spend some quality time with Gerie at the upcoming get together at Laguna Seca in a few weeks.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Team Lucha Libre Racing Gets A Thumbs Up

Photo of Gary taken with Team Lucha Libre Racing Piloto and Co-Piloto.

The Howling Monkey 1967 Datsun 1600 Fairlady is heading home after getting a good going over at California's Best Racing. There is no doubt this car should do very well in the 2008 La Carrera Panamericana with only a few improvements. For us it has been a real pleasure being asked to be involved and would like to thank Michael Emery for including us in the excitement. It reminds each one of us how exciting it was getting Lucky prepared for last years race. I am already asking myself how we will be able to get up to the minute accounts of how this and so many other cars will be doing in this years race rather than having to wait for three weeks to find out. God help us all back here in the States while everyone is sharing yet another adventure.

Back In The day

There used to be a time when everyone including the auto manufactures were proud to let the world know they had been a part of history having competed in La Carrera Panamericana. Every manufacture who ran La Carrera Panamericana had commercials in major publications talking about their heroic endeavors. And it was not just auto manufacturers either as major spark plug companies were also proud to let it be known their products also withstood the test of what was and still is, one of the most grueling races ever known to the world of auto racing.

I can only wonder how long it will be until we see more commercials like this again. How cool it would be to see a Ford ripping up a corner in Mexico while I watch the large screen.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Ultimate La Carrera Ride?

For those of us who have raced in La Carrera Panamericana we all know how popular the old Studebaker's were and still are. When I first saw this Studebaker (?) for sale on E-BAY the first thing I thought about was how handy it would be for hauling all the extra parts, tools, personal items needed for this adventure. Equally important is that it could be used to haul all the trophies, a few bottles of tequila and a few senoritas home afterwords. Just think of all the possibilities... Rust Ward could install a paddy wagon in the back and you might just get frisked! LOOK OUT!

Take a Ride Along in 2008 La Carrera Panamericana

Speak up now or forever hold your piece not only applies to weddings but in car races as well. Have you ever wished you could take part in a world famous race? Well here is your big chance and like the old saying, there is no time like the present.

Our very good friend Francisco Ortiz has years of experience running La Carrera Panamericana in several cars. Last year he ran a beautifully prepared Datsun 510 replica of PETE BROCK's BRE 510. and he is already signed up to run that same car again this year and is looking for a navigator. This is the opportunity of a lifetime in more ways than one. Since Francisco is from Mexico obviously he speaks Spanish (and English), has a very good understanding of all the customs of Mexico and knows the roads very well. This is a great opportunity for someone to arrive and take part without all of the concerns of the long drive to get there.

I can personally speak for his fine reputation not only as a great racer but also as a honorable family man and gentleman. So why wait? Chances like this do not come often in a lifetime. For more information email me at

Friday, June 13, 2008

Busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kickin contest

Where in the hell does the time go? Jon and I had so many plans to do what we love the most after last years La Carrera Panamericana... race cars. Nothing new. After all it's what we have done for years. The truth is, a break from racing is relaxing and rewarding especially when we get to spend quality time with our loved ones. (Even if it is only once every 10 years or so.) Jon and his wife have their daughter and My wife and I are having the adventure of a lifetime spending time with our two year old grandson Tyler. Like Jon says, "Sometimes you're the bug... Sometimes you're the windshield."

It seems like every time I have thoughts for a race Jon has something pressing at work and on the flip side of that same coin when he thinks of something good I am busy with something pressing at work. God knows it's good to be busy but dieing from work related stress is not my idea of a great way to check out.

Jon and I have been signed up since the beginning of the year to run the seasons endurance series but family and work have seen to it that was just a whim. Not long ago I was invited to compete in the very prestigious Monterey Historics, an honor not taken lightly by anyone. God willing I will be in attendance at the La Carrera get-together that same weekend. Check out the GT350 cutting thru the morning fog as it enters the famous corkscrew of Laguna Seca. This corner holds the distintion of being the single most photographed corner of any racetrack in the world. A track Jon, Will and I know all too well and have won many races on.

Since I am a member of the North American Eagle which is a challenge of the world speed record, I was asked to attend some 400 plus miles per hour test runs next week at El Mirage Dry Lake, east of Palmdale, California. The bad news is that since it is during the week I cannot make it because of some corporate duties not to mention some of my key team members will be out of town. Serious bummer indeed. What a great bunch of people to hang out with not to mention the growing excitement of getting ready to take the land speed record back from the Brits. Rest assured I will be at that.

In the mean time there has been some good come from all of this. First of all Jon sold one of his race cars and is in the process of doing something very exciting. More on that later but it's good... very good.

Then there is my son, Will. Regardless of what Will does I would be proud of him but he seems to not only have a good handle on life but he's quite the little businessman as well. One of the nicest race tracks in California and the U.S. is without a doubt Thunderhill Raceway in Willows California where Will has taken on his new job title of Marketing Director under the tutelage of CEO David Vodden. Not only is he working full time but he gets a great salary, is buying his first home not to mention he will be attending college as well. Not only is he working with some of the biggest names in racing but he is also allowed to continue his roll as race director and driver and instructor for NASA. On top of this he races full time driving cars and motorcycles with plans of running some motorcycle endurance races later this season.

If that isn't load enough for any young guy who seriously loves racing then check this out. Will is now an official dealer for the awesome FUSION FRC-14. If you want a hair raising ride or would like more information about these one of the fastest growing classes of race cars on the track drop Will a note at or give him a call at the track.

The good news is there is still lots of summer left, lots of racing to do and lots of friends to look forward to seeing and racing again. In the mean time, we still have a large reserve of stories to share so things aren't as bad as they seem.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads from Jon and Gary.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Jerry Churchill... He Will Be Missed

Jerry Churchill enjoying lunch in Oaxaca. Photo courtesy of Gerie Bledso.

Jerry Churchill at Aguascalientes.

It is with heavy heart that I regretfully report Jerry Churchill has passed on. Anyone who knew Jerry would tell you he was one hell of a driver and one to be reckoned with. Some might tell you he was rough around the edges not at all unlike men like John Wayne while others would tell you he was a real man's man who just loved racing. As for me I will miss him terribly. Personally I was lucky to have known him. There are a bunch but there are few moments that stand out that I would like to share. When the Coyote Convoy left Texas, crossed the border and headed south we all hung together. It couldn't have been any easier to keep a eye on other rigs probably because of Churchill's trademark bright red truck and trailer. After one of the Pemex stops Jerry, crew and family pulled up next to my rig and opened the door to their rig. A few minutes later Gerie Bledso went inside. Wondering what was going on Will and I checked it out as well. When we got to the door of his trailer the first words out of Jerry's mouth were, "Come on in and have a sandwich. We'll race later."

One afternoon after a long day of racing we were all parked in front of the Hotel Emporio in Zacatecas when Jerry walked up, leaned up against our car. It was late and for the most part very few people were around when he began talking to me like we were old friends. The first thing he asked was, "Did your Co-Piloto find a nice gift for his wife?" Then he went on talking about La Carrera and how he loved every moment of it. He said, "This is really something, isn't it?" That evening I saw a special side of Jerry Churchill, one that will forever stick in my mind and what I saw was a man really living what he loved to do most in life.

Jon and I were blessed to be able to run up front many times near Jerry something we felt privileged to do. It was always easy to find our place in the line-up each day since all we had to do was look for his beautiful car. In the following photo we were lined up right behind Jerry as we passed thru the starting arch for the day of racing. That afternoon when we arrived at the next city square he came over and said, "Just wanted to tell you that is one bad ass set of wheels ya got there. For a first timer you guys have done an awesome job. You can be very proud." Coming from a veteran, especially Jerry Churchill, hearing those words really meant a lot to us.

The morning we were getting ready to run the speed stages that included Mil Cumbres Jerry put a hand on my shoulder and said, "Now take it easy when you get to Mil Cumbres kid. Right when you think you've got a handle on things it will jump up and bite you on the ass." That evening he congratulated us on winning Mil Cumbres and walked away in a no nonsense kind of way.

Last but not least was the morning back in Texas when we were all getting ready to leave our hotel. Jerry and family were having breakfast but he still took a moment to ask, "Need any help getting ready or are you all good?"

These are examples of what kind of a man Jerry Churchill was. He was going to race you hard but he did everything in his power to make sure you had a good time too.

God's speed Jerry Churchill.

From North American Director, Gerie Bledsoe


Our friend and Carrera racer Jerry Churchill passes away last Saturday from complications arising from surgery. His presence will be missed.

I admired Jerry above all for stepping up to help the Mexican nurse, Lupita Hernandez, who lost both of her legs in 2003 in a Carrera racing accident. Jerry made sure that Lupita got a little check from us every six weeks. For Jerry and Lupita, we certainly want to continue that support. His commitment to her health and future illustrated a big heart under that tough exterior.

For Jerry La Carrera Panamerican was the Big Show and like many of us old timers, an autumn passion. He, Jim, Judy, Muriel, his beautiful yellow Studebaker and crew will be greatly missed this year in Tuxtla Gutierrez.

I will forward the information about the memorial service in Detroit just as soon as I receive it.

Sempre Fi!


Here is the official notice.


Eugene Gerald (Jerry) Churchill, son of Helen Bernice and Randolph Churchill. Born Detroit, Michigan, late of Fort Myers, Florida. Beloved husband of Doris (Boyle). Father of Randy Churchill and Gwen King of Windsor, Ontario. Adored brother of Muriel Kay Weaver of Rio Rico, Arizona. Dear uncle of Clayton Smith, South Woodslee, Ontario. Dear stepfather of Joey Boyle of Monroe, MI , Kevin Boyle of Fort Myers, FL and David of Windsor Ontario. Grandchildren, Randolph, Jennifer, David, Ryan, Joey, Megan, Travis, Andrew, Bridgette, Dillon.

Gerald was a prominent member of the business community and founder of Churchill Transportation of Detroit. Jerry had an extended and varied racing career which covered many countries. Longtime participant in many racing series including ARCA and Nascar. Jerry was a avid captain and recently received his 100 ton vessel license. Jerry loved adventure.

Cremation will take place on Monday June 9th in Fort Myers, FL. Arrangements for a memorial service in Det roit are incomplete.

We have a La Carrera guest

Being part of auto racing is always exciting and in this case it simply means we intend to have fun even though we will not be attending this years La Carrera Panamericana. Michael Emery of Team LUCHA LIBRE RACING has asked CALIFORNIA'S BEST RACING to act as Director of Race Preparations for the 2008 Lucha Libre Racing run of La Carrera Panamericana.

Running La Carrera Panamericana is not new to Michael having ran it in 2006. Having done so, Michael is all the more aware of the challenges ahead both for the team as well as the car. Team California's Best will be involved with shaking the car down, offering suggestions and making a few improvements to help assure that the 1967 Datsun Fairlady 1600 is ready to accept the challenge from start to finish.

On first look and after a quick run down the highway I must say, the car already looks pretty good. My first thoughts are it will not take much to be a very competitive car not to mention very reliable. Stay tuned over the next days as we help get things in order for Team Lucha Libre Racing so they can have a great showing in this years La Carrera Panamericana.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

When in Rome...

One of the best places to get "accurate" information from especially for La Carrera rookies when heading of to run La Carrera Panamericana is without a doubt, Gerie Bledsoe. Trust me when I tell you how many people over the years I have heard say, "I know what I'm doing. I have traveled a lot." But there is a lot to learn when going to Mexico especially to race a car. If you are entered in the race but have not been before DO NOT assume that since a lot of people have done it it's a walk in the park. Far from it. Over the next few months Gerie will send all entrants everything they need to get to the border, across the border, to the other border and back again. "IF" you listen and take notes. A good piece of advise is print everything he sends you and put it in a binder and read it over and over until you know it by heart. And then take it with you.

One thing Gerie will tell you in passing is HAVE A GOOD TIME. In other words, focus on the race but take some time when you can squeeze them in to enjoy Mexico. After all, you will be treated like a King while you are there so the least you can do is repay that respect by living the life on a high note. One thing I will tell you is drink the tequila, kiss the ladies, tell some lies and buy yourself a damn sombrero.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I pitty this poor bastard

One misconception about racing in Mexico is that as long as you are with the organization that sponsors the race and assuming you have paid all the required insurance fees that you are protected and have full coverage. WRONG! If you (especially Gringos) get into an accident and damage anything while in Mexico or Heaven forbid you hurt someone, your ass if grass and the Mexican citizens are the lawnmower. It;s important to remember you are no longer in the United States and it's not as simple as calling your insurance agent and lawyer. Down there they will throw your ass in jail and deal with you when their damn good and ready. Oh yeah, should you break this cardinal rule, be sure you have lots of cash.

Keep this in mind because when you race in Mexico it does NOT give you the right to drive crazy or be disrespectful of those who live and work there. Just imagine this race being held in your hometown. Respect them the same as you would want to be respected.

Today in Mexico an American fell asleep at the wheel and plowed thru a large group of bicyclist in a race. In this case he was extremely fortunate that a policeman came along quickly which is rare since some of the angry men in the crowd were about to lynch him. Here is the entire report from FOXNEWS.COM.

1 Killed After Alleged Drunk Driver Plows Into Bike Race
Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A car collides into cyclists participating in a race in Mexico's northern border city of Matamoros.

A car driven by an alleged drunken driver plowed into a bicycle race along a highway near the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday, killing one cyclist and injuring 10 others.

Juan Campos was apparently drunk and had fallen asleep at the wheel before crashing into the race in Monterrey, Mexico, police investigator Jose Alfredo Rodriguez said.

A photograph taken by a city official shows the horrifying moment of impact. The force of the collision sent bicyclists and equipment high into the air and Matamoros newspaper El MaƱana described children crying, women shouting for help and men trying to lynch Campos before police arrived to arrest him.

Killed in the crash was Alejandro Alvarez, 37, of Monterrey.

Campos told police he was an American citizen from Brownsville, Texas. The U.S. consulate could not immediately confirm that.

"We are looking into the incident in terms of whether American citizens were involved,'' consulate spokesman Todd Huizinga told the Associated Press.

The crash happened 15 minutes into the race along a highway between Playa Bagdad and Matamoros, authorities said.

A total of 452 cyclists were participating in the 21-mile race, which was canceled after the incident.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Carrera News
June 2008










Registration for the 2008 Pan Am has been closed after signing up 105 competitors. This is the second straight year that the event has been full. A heavy registration from Europe, especially Germany, is a primary reason. Fifty-five entries are from Canada and the U.S. There is a short provisional list, too.

The Pan Am starts on Oct. 24 in Tuxtla Gutierrez (Chiapas) and ends in Nuevo Laredo on Oct. 30. Registration for the event in 2009 will open next February 1. New entrants may reserve a slot with a $500 deposit, subject to approval of their car. The 2009 event will be held during the last week in October.


The Carrera Fiesta and Corral at the Monterey Historics is scheduled for Saturday, August 16, 3-6:30 PM at Tarpy’s Restaurant near the track at Laguna Seca. It is a “no host” affair, so we need to sell 60 tickets at $35 by July 1 to make it a “go” with the restaurant. The ticket will cover food, beverages, and audio-visual equipment. We will have reserved space to display thirty cars in the corral, so bring your ’53 all aluminum Gullwing to display.

Send your checks to the Coordinator’s address below. PayPal is accepted, too, at


A top car magazine will be covering the Carrera cars that will attack Pike’s Peak July 15-20, so it will be good promo for the Pan Am. If you are in the area (Colorado Springs), please stop by to say hello. It is quite a spectator event. Get the schedule at Some of the Carreraistas will be living it up at the Super 8 Hotel in Manitou Springs. Given the fact that we practice on the mountain each morning from 5-8 AM, don’t expect a lot of wild parties at night! Most of us have too many miles on the odometer to burn engine oil at both ends.


The Coyote Convoy will gather in Laredo, Texas at the Marriott Inn on Friday, Oct. 17at 9 PM. The convoy will cross the border the next morning at 6 AM for the drive down to San Miguel de Allende.

Convoy participants will be welcomed in San Miguel at a special reception, followed by an optional gala fundraising banquet. After the banquet, convoy participants are invited to party at downtown clubs.

On Sunday the Carrera cars will be displayed in the town’s main square, El Jardin, from 10 AM until 3PM. In addition to the Carrera car show, on Saturday the Concurso will have venues for vintage and collectible cars, racecars, and motorcycles. The winners of these venues will be invited to the Jardin, as well.

The Concurso will be raising funds for three charities who provide assistance to children and families in need in the local area. Contributions are tax deductible in the U.S. and Mexico.

A discounted hotel packages will be offered at all price levels to participants in the convoy and Concurso. Additional information about the Concurso is available at

San Miguel de Allende is best served by the airport at Leon-Silao-Guanajuato (BJX), which is about 65 miles away by airport limo. You can also rent cars at the airport. Flying into another city (Mexico City, Guadalajara, Morelia, or San Luis de Potosi) is an option.

The Convoy and Concurso are open to all motor sports enthusiasts and even girl friends who only feign interest. If you or that special friend want to drive or fly down to San Miguel to be part of the festivities, please ask for additional information at

Sponsors for the Concurso are needed. We also need collectible cars to display.


A HANS device or some similar will be required only in the Turismo Mayor class this year, according to Eduardo Leon, the organizer. Fire suppression systems will be highly recommended but not required in any class. If you install a fire suppression system, consider carrying a hand-held extinguisher, too.


The Carrera Panamericana is a serious motor sports event that involves driving at high speeds through the mountains and plains of Mexico--for seven full days. As such, it is inherently dangerous. Even the transit stages--through regular traffic--can be dangerous. All participants, even those who do not consider themselves in full competition, should make sure that their car and bodies are prepared adequately, and that they drive carefully. Every driver who has not raced in competition should take a high performance driving or racing course to learn proper car control techniques. They should not exceed 70-80% their ability to maintain good car control, especially when driving at high speeds or when the road conditions are marginal. All participants will be required to sign a waiver holding the organizers harmless for any accidents or injury.

Just remember that nothing counts unless you finish the Pan Am, and just finishing this event under your own power is a significant accomplishment.


Need a co-pilot for La Carrera Panamericana? Want to go down as a mechanic or truck driver? Let the Coordinator know, or advertise here for free.

Mechanical support in Mexico can be arranged with a local Mexican mechanic for a $500retainer.


Gerie Bledsoe
North American Coordinator

La Carrera Panamericana
677 Highland Ave.
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
650-726-9890 (home office)
650-726-9599 (fax)

650-867-9488 (mobile)