Friday, August 29, 2008

Something's Missing

In my early years as an Olympic Skeet shooter I was fortunate to have the best possible coach in the world and he was one that never gave up with regards to how far he pushed me. One weekend he called to ask how I had performed at the weekends event. He was excited when I told him I had taken the gold but I made a huge mistake by saying, "It's a good thing Chuck wasn't here this weekend." Needless to say my coach wasn't happy at all as he began showing me his disappointment. It was that day that I realized no podium is a good one unless you know you had competed against the very best there is and that they were performing at their peek. This is a lesson I have handed down from my coach to my son who also knows that a podium finish is worth no more than those we compete against. There is NOTHING worse that hearing someone ask, "But could you have won if so and so was there?"

Last year when Jon and I competed in La Carrera Panamericana we competed against the best Historic C drivers in the world and every spot we finished was earned. It is those same competitors that we came to know and respect, many of them we are now proud to call our friends.

Not running this years La Carrera is hard but as racers we are pushed to believe that if we can not take the challenge with the intent of going there to win it then there is absolutely no reason to go. That's just the way we do things. We also respect our friends who for what ever reason feel the same and have had to dig down deep inside to make the gut-wrenching decision to cancel this years event. While there are a few others who canceled this years race one of our very best friends, Ralf Christensson has also decided to wait until next year. This news hurts us just about as much as it has Ralf I'm sure. In a way it makes me happy we are not running this year since Ralph and his hot Monte Carlo Falcon will not be there. On the flip side of that coin the good news is there will be more La Carrera's and knowing Ralf plans on returning only inspires me all the more to return in 2009 so we can do battle. After all, what are good friends for if we can not push each other harder to be better?

Another man that motivated others to push harder who will also be dearly missed is Jerry Churchill. To say Jerry was a tenacious competitor would be putting it mildly. He too gave it all or nothing. There will positively be void at this years race.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Phil Hill, One Of Racing's Greatet Drivers... Gone

Phil Hill has passed away... There I said it, something I hoped never would cross my lips. There are some great men who we wish would never leave us, and possibly Phil Hill is just such a man and because of his many legendary accomplishments just maybe he never will. Anyone that knows anything about racing knows Phil Hill was one of racing's greatest icons.

In the history of the international Formula 1 Grand Prix Championship, the highest prize in the world, only two Americans have taken home the coveted GT Crown: Phil Hill in 1961 and Mario Andretti in 1978. Phil was the first American to win the classic 24 Hour race at Le Mans, the first American to win three times at Sebring, the first American to win a modern championship Grand Prix and the finally become the first American Champion. Besides a list of accomplishments too long to list, between his sports car and Grand Prix victories, Phil Hill won more races for the Ferrari team than any other driver to date.

My son Will and I are truly blessed that we both got to spend a day with Phil and to experience first hand one the greatest drivers of all time. Will said to Phil, "Mr Hill, what an honor it has been to meet someone like you who has won so many championships, great races, endurance races and so on." But Phil put his hand on Will's shoulder, leaned over and said, "Yeah, but I never won a 25 hour race like you guys did," (Referring to us winning the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.) He was all about making those around him feel as special as he did.

Photo courtesy of Dyana Marlett.
This is the actual Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale in which Phil raced in La Carrera Panamericana with co-driver Richie Ginther as it was on display at this years Monterey Historics. It was this very car that was owned by Allen Guiberson that Hill and his friend Richie Ginther were lucky to survive a huge accident which took place on the Oaxaca/Puebla leg. Although Phil Hill thought of retiring at that point the truth is that he was at the start of the Le Mans 24 hours.

Phil loved racing and did everything he could to make sure everyone around him enjoyed it as much as he did. As we walked around the paddock we came up to a car that was on display and in front of it was a placard describing how many races the car had won driven by Phil Hill. When the man seated next to the car saw us examining it he began telling us more about the car and it quickly became apparent he didn't realize he was talking to Phil Hill himself. After we walked away I asked Phil why he didn't tell the man he who he was. Phil said, "I have never seen that car in my life." Then I asked why he didn't set him straight and he said, "Why? Besides, someone probably sold him the car telling him all those lies and who am I to ruin his day? Let's just let him go on living his dream."

Dreams about racing are in fact what Phil Hill left us with. Thank you Phil. God's speed.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008



August 2008



Around 65 Carreraistas, friends, and family members showed up at the second annual Pan Am Fiesta and Corral at Tarpy’s Roadhouse in Monterey on August 16 during the Monterey Historics. The site and the weather were perfect.

In addition to the usual roundup of suspect Californians, there were visitors from several other states and countries, including Arturo and Gabriel Perez from Mexico. Gabriel Perez and Angelica Fuentes won the Carrera in 2006. Before that, his father, Arturo, had been his navigator in every Pan Am since 1988.

Richard Clark and Andy Prill from Monaco and England were there to display a Porsche 356 driven by Manfredo Lippmann in the original Pan Am in 1953. The car, which they were running at Laguna Seca, was in beautiful condition! This was the one of the cars that started the whole “Carrera” marketing ploy for the Porsche company. Apparently, Mr.Lippmann attended the races but was unable to join the group at Tarpy’s.

Several individuals who raced the modern Pan Am back in the initial 1988-1993 period were able to attend and swap stories about those wild and wooly early years.

And a good time was had by all! For more details and photos go to Gary Faules’ blog at:


Plans are coming together for the first annual Concurso de Motor Sports in San Miguel de Allende. The Concurso will start with a Carrera de Poker (Poker Rally) on Oct. 17, and conclude with a display of Carrera cars in the main square on Oct. 19.

The purpose of the Concurso is to raise money for organizations that help children and families in need. This year the two participating organizations are CASA – an organization that provides a variety of services to children and families, from education to medical care. The other organization is Casita Linda, which builds houses for disadvantaged Mexican families. Like Habitat for Humanity, the family must participate in the building of the house. Go to for more information.

Both CASA and Casita Linda are registered as 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organizations with the IRS, so contributions are tax deductible in the USA (and in Mexico).


Herschel McGriff, who won the first Carrera in 1950 as a very young man, will be the guest of honor at the Panamericano Gala Banquet in San Miguel on October 19. McGriff, who went on to have a successful racing career in NASCAR and other events, continues to run his business in Arizona.

Tickets to the gala in San Miguel will be $150 per person. Most of the cost may be treated as a tax-deductible contribution to CASA and Casita Linda, but always check with your CPA first.


All Carrera cars and other qualified vintage racecars are being invited back to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb next year. Just about any pre-72 vintage car with a full roll cage is eligible. The date will be July 19, 2009. Forty slots will be open in the vintage category. In addition to the Hill Climb, the Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing Club and La Carrera USA will also sponsor a vintage car show and other activities in Manitou Springs, a famous resort town on the slopes of Pikes Peak. Even if you decide not to challenge The Mountain, you can display your car and have a good time.


This will be my tenth annual trip to Mexico for La Carrera. It’s been a blast! Here’s a look back on the event in 1999, my first year.

In 1999, eighty-five cars started the Pan Am in Tuxtla Gutierrez. When the dust settled in Nuevo Laredo a week later, Pierre de Thoisy* (FR) was the winner by 12 minutes over Jorge Silva (MX). Michael Stoschek (GER) finished first in Historic B and third overall in his Porsche 911. Few believed that the Porsche had only 2000 cc, but there was no formal challenge.

Dennis Varni* (US) finished first in Turismo Production and ninth overall in his Lincoln. And Bruce Parmalee finished first in Historic C in a white ’65 Corvette roadster. Texan Rusty Ward,* everyone’s favorite former exotic dancer, was up in 11th.

Doug Mockett* (USVI), long before he got smart enough to team up with Angelica Fuentes, finished 22d. Steve Waldman* (US) was 24th. Jorge Pedrero (MX) finished in 25th -- with Angelica. Other Americans included: Tom and Sandy McKenna 26th, and Brian DeVries* 34th overall and 2d in Original Pan Pam his beautiful, authentic ’53 Ferrari GTO 250. John Daniels* finished 25th, Michael Sharp* 42d, Al Hagen and Todd Landon were 46th, Chris Salyer 48th, and Mats Hammarlund 53d. Rookies Chuck O’Connor and Gerie Bledsoe*, in a ’61 Mercedes 220 SEb rust bucket with only four of six cylinders working, were lucky to finish in 65th place.

Twelve cars from the US in 1999 were listed as DNF, including Bill Shanahan*, Jerry Churchill, and Helge Nyland*. Don Blackburn and Sue Zesiger got a spirit award for finishing 67th after rolling their Mercedes coupe badly the first day. (Rich Morrrison now is a Carrera and Chihuahua regular in the car, which he had completely rebuilt.) Light rain and excessive speed caused twelve cars to crash that first racing day back in ‘99.

About a dozen Americans on the grid in ’99 will be returning in 2008. Their names are marked with an asterisk above. They now form the core of the “U.S. Pan Am Fraternity.” Jerry Churchill will be present, too, as a big part of the “Spirit of the Carrera.”

Sadly, there were three fatalities in ’99: two Mexican racers—one a young woman-- went off on Mil Cumbres, and a spectator stepped off a curb in Tuxtla and was instantly killed by a service truck.

Let’s do better in 2008!


The fund used to support the Mexican nurse, Lupita Hernandez, severely injured by a Carrera car in 2003 has been moved to Torrence, California, because of Jerry Churchill’s passing. The trustees of the account are now: Doug Mockett, Oscar Carillo, and Gerie Bledsoe.

Contributions are needed to increase the fund to a point where the interest and principle will be enough to support Lupita during her lifetime. At this point the fund can only afford fifty dollars weekly for a few years. Lupita’s father, who provides daily assistance to his daughter, who lost both legs at the hip, only earns $75 a week as a night watchman.

Recent contributors include: J. McKain, J. Harding, D. Gussack, and B. Redding, plus two others who asked to remain anonymous.

The new address for Lupita’s Fund is:
Ms. Fanny Davila
South Bay Bank
2200 Sepulveda Blvd.
Torrence, CA 90501
Acct. #: 009400710
Wire routing #: 122237308


Can’t make the Carrera this year? Sign up for the Chihuahua Express. It is a 1000 mile stage rally (325 miles of speed stages) through the glorious countryside of northern Mexico, in the state of Chihuahua. The City of Chihuahua is only 145 miles from Texas.

The early entry fee (if paid by November 31) is $1800; hotels are extra. Email for an entry packet and click on for more information.


Plans are being made for a Carrera gathering at private auto club in downtown San Franciso the evening of September 13. The night will feature some discussion of how to prepare your car for the Carrera. Details will follow.


Stephen Page, a veteran of the 2005 La Carrera, has created the world’s largest online social network for people who love vintage cars, especially racing them –

You may use this group to post photos and videos, and to communicate with fellow members more effectively. You may also share your experiences about car marques and resources for travel, apparel, parts, and services.

The site offers a new way to communicate with fellow La Carrera Panamericana participants--past, present, and future.

There is no cost to use the site. Click on this link to join the La Carrera Panamericana Group on MyVRL:


Auto racing is inherently dangerous and La Carrera Panamerican is no exception. Both car and driver(s) should be carefully prepared for a long, hard endurance race. Fortunately, the flow of gasoline and electrical impulses to the engine can be limited by simple devices, but the flow of testosterone and adrenaline to the driver cannot be limited with a gadget.

Drivers should be pre-programmed to survive a week-long race, covering nearly 2000 miles. The keys to this race are: solid mechanical preparation of the car and a smooth, consistent driver who preserves the equipment. Luck also helps a lot.

The biggest variable in the race may well be the reliability of the car, but driver and navigator must understand and appreciate the fact that this race cannot be won the first day. However, it can be lost on the very first speed stage, with disastrous consequences. Even experienced drivers can lapse into the infamous “red mist” zone and lose control of their rational faculties…and the car.

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)


Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekends with the family

The definition of "Spending quality time with the family" seems to vary from house to house but what's important is that everyone must enjoy themselves. While Jon is building his newest ride, that being a BMW Spec E30 which is quickly becoming one of the hottest new spec classes with what will most certainly be a huge success my wife and I took the time to go spend the weekend with our son Will at his place of work... Thunderhill Raceway. Naturally, as long as we were going to a track we decided we might as well take along a race car so why not take Lucky?

On the way home Mari Chris and I stopped by the Pleasanton Car Show and swap meet to look around and while . We had some lunch and looked at lots of great rides and while there I found a new Shelby GT350R model car that I just had to add to my collection.

The weather was awesome and as usual the NASA crowd is always fun and exciting to hang out with. Besides getting to visit with Will and see his new office located in the top of the main building overlooking the track which by the way was just repaved I spent most of my time either racing Lucky or visiting with friends old and new.

Lucky is always a blast to drive and thruout the day Will and I enjoyed spending time together tweaking on Lucky until he was faster and faster. Getting a car to handle and perform better is great but doing it with your son is the best part of all.

Lucky dives inside a Cobra to make the pass in turn 10.

In between races we had time to sit with other friends and spectators in the stands which sit in the shade of some trees overlooking the new modifications made leading onto the straightaway. For the first time Will was trying out someones BMW in the new Spec E30 class and it was one hell of a race too. Will and Jon wanted to learn as much as they can about the characteristics of these cars to help in the building of Jon's new car. As usual Will catches on pretty fast (No pun intended) and even though Will was driving a car with a LOT of miles on the engine against his good friend Donny Edwards in a car with a fresh motor they both set new lap records on the fast new surface and in the process left the entire rest of the field so far behind it looked like they had left. From what I saw this is going to make for some awesome racing.

Donny Edwards telling his mechanic what he needs changed.

One of the cars I enjoyed watching run this weekend that run at the same time Will's race took place was this beautiful new version of Factory Five's Super Unlimited car which by the way, whipped all the high dollar whale-tale Porsches and there was a bunch.

Mari Chris always has fun where ever she is but both of us enjoy riding our bikes in the paddock which helps work off some of those calories from the free NASA barbeque on Saturday nights.

NASA events are always a lot of fun not to mention anytime I get behind the wheel I am smiling but this weekend was made even more rewarding for me when I looked up and saw my buddy Tom Dragoun of 7's Only Racing setting up next to me. Even though I have known the guys at 7's Only for years, Tom and I became good friends last year when he used his tractor trailer rig to haul cars down to Mexico to run in La Carrera Panamericana. Since Tom and I were in the Coyote Convoy all the way to the bottom of Mexico we had lots of time to form a great friendship. Tom will be hauling about 11 cars again this year and being their team support as well one of which is our friend Carson Scheller and his Original Panam Ford.

Man, seeing Tom and his truck sure brought back some wonderful memories.

One of the guys I got to meet is Gregory Clough, president of FUN CUP INC. I had the opportunity to spend time with Gregory and learn about this new racing venture that is quickly taking over in Europe and America. Don't be fooled, like the old saying says, do not judge a book by it's cover. These awesome little "VW Bugs" are anything but slow. Will's boss, Dave Vodden recently went to Europe to drive these little creatures on steroids and has nothing but great things to say about them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Documentary Trailer

Following on the heels of its world premiere at the recent Carreraista gathering in Monterey, here's the most recent trailer of our soon-to-be-released documentary. We'll be accepting pre-orders soon and will post a link to the order page when it's ready. In the meantime...enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A relaxing day in the sun with Lucky

Yesterday Jon and I hopped in Lucky and drove south to Monterey. Now if you have ever been to Monterey during the weekend of the prestigious Monterey Historis's and Concourse De Elegance then you know that it's not just another Sunday drive. There is some of the most exotic hardware in the world and it's not all parked in some showroom either. I doubt that at any given time that we were ever more than a block from several million dollars worth of cars and that was before we ever reached the track. Ferraris were as ordinary as VW bugs were in the 70's. At one point we pulled up behind a CHP and parked next to us was a Ford GT with a custom paint job, a million dollar McLaren F1 and a Ferrari all of which seemed too timid to pass the CHP but Lucky wasn't and so off we went. As much awesome hardware as there was it was very rewarding to realize that Lucky was ever bit as appealing as any other car we saw and we saw a lot of thumbs up throughout the day and even more fun was passing the majority of them while doing it.

The first place we went to was to pick up our ace in the hole which is a little something that Jon has access to during all of these events which is the all powerful "Media Pass". This was nice because it meant we didn't have to park miles away. As a matter of fact we were waved thru the usual security check-points and drove right in to the track and parked in the very popular Ford Corral.

During the early part of the day Jon and I enjoyed ourselves while the vintage racing was going on and equally beautiful vintage fighter planes buzzing the track and a whole lot more. Oh and did I mention cars? Geeze, no matter how many years I attend this thing I never get tired and if it's possible it just keeps on getting better and better every year.

After Jon and I left Laguna Seca we headed on over to Tarpy's Roadhouse where there was the annual La Carrera Panamericana get together. There were about 60 La Carrera members in attendance some who have been many times, some who will be making their first run this year but everyone enjoyed the afternoon of camaraderie.

There were people in attendance from all over the United States and world. Also in attendance was Arturo Perez. It was was his son Gabriel that won the Carrera with Angelica Fuentes in 2006 in a Turismo Produccion Ford.

With everyone else in attendance Jon and I enjoyed the local grog & ale as our new La Carrera Panamericana DVD mades it's debut. Unfortunately there were some problems with the video equipment on hand resulting in poor sound however without a doubt THIS IS THE BEST LA CARRERA PANAMERICAN MOVIE EVER PRODUCED and many shared the excitment.

A special thanks to Gerie Bledsoe for helping make the La Carrera gathering a special one and also to Bill Hemmer and is wife Adriana Robles since this year they negotiated the deal with Tarpy's, got everything set up, including the parking for Carrera cars and supplied the AV equipment. Bill and Adriana have driven the Carrera twice. In 2007 they were down there in a Porsche 550 replica. Thank you. As master of ceremonies Gerie Bledsoe made sure to introduce everyone and took a few minutes to give us all some updates for the upcoming events. I cracked up when Gerie asked everyone if they were ready for this years event since there were only two months left and I heard Carson Scheller say, "I was born ready." And our friend Dr. Sam Burg in attendance with co-piloto Dyana Marlett cracked me up when he told me he would not miss the gravel and trees on Mil Cumbres. I never thought to ask him about the narrow bridges.

I wish I had written down everyone's name and taken more photos but you know what they say about how time flies when you're having a good time.

Some of the cars and drivers in attendance included Andy Prill from England and Richard Clark from from Monaco who ran with us last year. Andy and Richard had flown over from Europe to race in this weekends event and they also brought along two amazing and historical cars as well. Both were older Porsches which they recently used to compete in this years LeManns one of which ran in one of the very first La Carrara race.

Left to right; Andy Prill, Jon Emerson, Gary Faules, Richard Clark.

Our good friend Doug Mockett and his crew also took a break in the action at the Monterey Historics to attend. Not only did Doug have his Mockett Rocket which just took first place at Pikes Peak at the event but he was also racing two of his formula cars at this weekends event as well including his 1975 Penske PC3.

Left to right, Richard Clark, Gerie Bledsoe, Gary Faules, Doug Mockett.

Doug Mockett proves to Dr Sam Burg that it's not necessary to get lubed up before putting on his Cooper formula car.

Here are few other cars that made a showing at the La Carrera get together.

A hot little La Carrera Falcon.

Our good buddy Carson Scheller drove his fantastic Ford and is always a pleasure to be around.

Another Curtis.

I had to laugh... the parking lot was filled with just about every type of car you would never expect to see at the local mall parking lot but when I saw a Rolls Royce parked near Lucky I cracked up. Where else except Monterey would you ever expect to find one with a fork laying on the hood?

Apparently the chauffeur was off looking for some Grey Poupon. But of course!

It's impossible to post just a few photos from an event such at this but here are just a few including a couple of my favorite formula cars one of which I watched Jackie Stewart race right here at Laguna Seca.

At one point during the day as Jon and I walked around Jon says, "There is Rod Millen's Pikes Peak car." Then a second later he says, "Hey, that's Rod Millen talking about the car!"