No Sir... Ya can't keep a good man down. When it comes to racing there are basically two kinds of men. There are those that have a bad day or heaven forbid they should get a dent in their pretty new car. They go home, talk smack about how poorly run the sanctioning body is and you never hear from them again until you see them parked at a show-n-shine car show being careful not to break a nail. For a La Carrera Panamericana team it's enough to make a grown man cry.
Then there are those guys who just can't seem to get enough. They build awesome cars and drive them like they stole'em and if the car can't stand up to the abuse they give them they either crash, blow up or burn them. But none of those little obstacles will deter them from finding a way to have a good time let alone keep them out from behind the wheel.
Can you guess who I'm going to talk about? LOL. Yep, one of my all time La Carrera Panamericana heroes... None other than Gerie "Go like hell" Bledsoe. Yes, Gerie is NOT the cry and go home type. Hell, this guy has been in a crash that makes some famous Indy crashes look like Mother Teressa was driving. And there have been years when things just didn't work out car wise but year after year he returns to do what it is he loves.... Race La Carrera Panamericana. And it's not like he doesn't have other things to do. As the La Carrera Panamericana North American director he has more on his plate than can be found in a sushi bar on Sumo night. But that hasn't stopped him yet. The guy simply can't stand not being part of the best race in the world and who can blame him?
Gerie relaxes with Herschel McGriff at the beautiful Mansion Artesana Rosewood in San Miguel de Allende.
On one hand he'd give you the shirt off his back and even help you work on your car but on the other hand, once that green flag is lifted he'd sooner run you down like a Kentucky coon hound tracking down the neighbor's kitten. Don't kid yourself one bit about that kind and gentle smile on his face. Years ago my high school coach said to me, "Faules, do you know why that dog is standing behind that fence wagging his tale when you get too close? It's his way of saying, "I'm gonna LOVE chewing your arm and leg off."
Showing the Durango Deuce II some love at Tuxtla Gutierrez.
This year when Gerie's engine puked in his brand new, #395 beautiful Historic C Class Nova many were heart broken for him but Gerie didn't have time to be all woosey-woosey or teary eyed and before you knew it the car was on a trailer. As a matter of fact, before the next day he had made arrangements to have the engine taken care of and delivered to the next race. The engine oil wasn't even cold in the Durango Deuce when he had rides lined up for the following day for both himself and Coop. Did I mention this guy just loves to race?
Gerie teamed up and shared duties as piloto and co-piloto for the #422 Original Panam Mercedes Benz of Richard Morrison and Richard Hamlin, two more of La Carrera Panamericana's finest gentleman racers in their own rights. Together they finished 49th overall and 3rd in class.
Gerie and Richard Morrison.
I am not ashamed to say I just love this guy. He's everything anyone could ask of a gentleman racer and if John Wayne were alive today I'm sure he's be reading scripts about a man named Bledsoe. One of my favorite John Wayne quotes seems to be all too fitting.... "If you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.”
Gerie Bledsoe... Strap him in a race car and he's happier than a coondog on a bare leg.
Misc photos courtesy of COOP