Sunday, November 02, 2008

La Carrera Panamericana Sportsmanship alive and well in Mexico

Websters defines SPORTSMANSHIP as; conduct (as fairness, respect for one's opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport.

One of the best things about racing is the amazing stories of sportsmanship. In the world of sports today, sadly, sportsmanship is something that has seemed to gone by the wayside. With high paid athletes comes the attitude that somehow many of them think, "It's all about ME." The good news is, that's not the way it is in La Carrera Panamericana.

One such example of sportsmanship at it finest was when Carson Scheller and Shields Richardson in the #433 Ford Victoria saw the #405 Porsche of Jan Lammers and Chris Zeggers in trouble. Even though Carson and Shields both knew that Jan and Chris were not in any immediate danger they felt the need to help their fellow competitors. They also knew damn good and well that by helping them they were making it possible for the world class driver, Jan Lammers, who had been on their tail all week long, to catch them but that still didn't stop them from going way out of their way to help.

It was right after the last speed run out of the mountains and onto the looong flats before Laredo. Carson stopped at a Pemex for refreshments as Carson wrote "our friends Jan + Chris in the #405 Porsche pulled in needing fuel." But the Pemex didn't have any fuel and the next station was 50 kilometers further up the road. Carson looked around and found a old garden hose and offered to siphon gas from his tank to theirs but when he tried the hose was so full of holes and kinks that he couldn't make it work after numerous try's. So Carson slowed way down and followed Lammers car up the road for the next 50 kilometers doing only 55 mph hoping to help them conserve fuel. He told them in case they ran out "he could tow'em in". Kidding and in true racing spirit Carson said, "I would have loved that."

As a result of their sportsmanlike behaviour they were 35 minutes late to the Z stop. Because of Shields carefully written note on the back of the card explaining why they were late (helping a competitor) the officials saw fit not to inflict a penalty. Carson wrote, "Beating them on the track and helping them get to the finish was the right thing to do. The spirit lives on."

Untimely they ended up only beating them by 3 minutes but in reality they finished up light years ahead as true gentlemen racers, something that La Carrera Panamericana is all about.

So ask yourself... If you saw a world class formula one driver racing in your class who was running on fumes, and you knew that if he run out it would only help your chances of winning the famous Original PanAm class, would you stop and help or doing your best Clint Eastwood imitation, roll down your window and say, "I know what you're thinking. "Does he have six gallons or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a 1954 Ford Victoria, the most powerful Ford in the Original PanAm class, and would blow your Porsche clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

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