Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Job Well Done

Today I was thinking about Lauren and Carson Scheller as they are on their way home. I couldn't help but remember the drive home with my son Will after our first La Carrera Panamericana. It's a long drive especially after such an action packed event and the adrenaline keeps your heart racing for a good long while. Even though we were exhausted the return trip seemed to whisk right by as we reminisced so many what ifs, humorous, dangerous, and spectacular moments that we had. It seemed like every other sentence began with 'And do you remember... " As a matter of fact just a week ago my son and I were having the exact same conversation and we laughed about how it doesn't take much to start reliving that awesome rush of adrenaline created my memories of La Carrera Panamericana and what's better is having done it as father and son.

But today it's all about Lauren and Carson, father and daughter, as now it's their turn to talk about the same moments and for a father to see the excitement in his child's face and then for the child to share the same feeling of pride and accomplishment that keeps bringing the father back time and time again. This was Laruen's first time taking on the demanding responsibilities as co-Piloto and there had to be some reservations but in the end, she really stepped up to the plate. She's not even my daughter and yet I couldn't be more proud.

There are a couple things about Lauren's adventure that really pleased me and one of them was the awesome blog she kept up to date which in turn helped keep all of us so well informed. Anyone that has been involved with these knows exactly how difficult it is to do. There is so much to do and so little time that a team barley has time to get anything done let alone find time to maintain a blog. And that's even IF you can find a computer with any speed to do it on. Regarding Lauren's blog, one could really feel her enthusiasm, excitement and so much more which really made for excellent reading.

The other thing I loved was Lauren's great outlook on every single turn of events which were not all positive ones at that. Regardless she made the very best of each situation and was a team player doing everything in her power to help turn a negative into a positive. From where I'm sitting, that's exactly what she did and the bottom line was they are coming home having shared what will most certainly be a memory her and her father will never forget. How cool is that? Lauren said it best when she wrote... "FRICKIN' AWESOME!!!"

Thanks Lauren.

Always The Gentleman

I am always proud to be associated with such fine gentleman as there are to be found in racing and one such person that stands out is none other than Lars Stugemo. Not only is Lars an awesome driver but he has a personality to match. Always ready to go a little beyond the ragged edge and equally as willing to bend over backwards to help another racer regardless of what bad cards he may have been dealt.

Lars wrote today with a little insight as to what happened during last weekends mishap but what I take from all this is the no-excuse attitude accompanied along with a great attitude as well. I always have a great admiration for someone who sees the glass as half full instead of half empty.

Lars wrote...

Thanx Gary - and yes it keeps happening - but I guess that´s racing...

This was a brand new engine De Luxe - just popped on SS5 after the long straights. How boring is that...

Then the tow car broke down so no time to fix it when the car came down 03:30. Otherwise our crew would have given it a shot for sure. They are great!

And, maybe on a slightly more negative side: There was actually a car transporter for a fellow competitor who stopped, but we sensed they weren´t really able to go the distance for the small extra and take the car. Probably a misjudgement only.. And, of course we thought we could fix it ourselves :=)

Anyway. The weather was good - keep up the good work with the blog it´s always great to get some news.

All the best - Lars :=)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chihuahua Express Update

I intend to write more about this amazing gal but in the mean time here is the latest excerpt from Lauren Scheller's blog...

Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday's Racing
I now understand this addiction. This last day of racing was FRICKIN' AWESOME!!!

The Victoria ran like the champ that she is. This third and last day of racing took us to the east of Chihuahua to Ojinaga; 4 velocity sections out and 4 back toward Chihuahua. This part of the state is high desert, very brittle environment, but with it's own unique beauty.

The car was great (until the last transit, LOL) and the velocity sections were so much fun to drive. Lots of 3s and 4s, some 5s and some long straights to haul ass. Dad did a great job driving and we found a great rhythm all day. There was a really fun, LONG section where we caught up to and passed the car in front of us. What a rush!!!

Then on the last long transit back to Chihuahua we developed a leak in a break line resulting in very little braking power but not enough to deter us from carrying on to the race track. We had to do 8 laps around a new track and we just cruised around, not pushing the car hard because of our brake situation. However, it was still an awesome day of racing!

Last night the awards ceremony was at the beautiful Governor's Palace downtown. Drum roll please...we got 2nd in our class!!! LOL There were only 3 cars in our Original Pan Am Class. The Gregorys and their Studebaker were out the first day with engine problems; we only ran a day and a half; but Brad and Derek in the beautiful yellow Lincoln were consistent and stayed in it, earning the top spot in Original Pan Am.

But now that I've experience this race, I truly believe that anyone whose car is still in one piece, has some hair left, can still see straight and has a smile on their face should all get recognition for surviving this great adventure!

We left Chihuahua early this morning to drive back to the border and were through by noon. Got the cars loaded and we're on our way home. Good thing it was easier to get back into the states than it was to leave! Now about 1000 miles go home :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chihuahua Express Final Results

The final resuts are in.


As soon I get some more related stories I will post them and I'm sure Lauren will have something good for us.

One Word... Consistency.

Today was spent relaxing and wondering how our friends are doing down in Mexico, watching Jeff Gordon maintain his lead and topping it of by watching Tiger Woods make a 16 foot clutch putt to win the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational which was an amazing replay how he won it the last time he competed there. Woods sunk a dramatic 16 foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole which was only the seventh on the 18th hole all day to win at Bay Hill for a second year in a row. And he did it in the disappearing light, flasbulbs popping in the Orlando dusk as he gave us another one of those Tiger moments and Tiger fist pumps.

The win gives Woods a six-pack of victories at Arnie's place and it also matches the largest final-round comeback of his career, a five shot deficit that was erased by one miraculous shot after another. It's also his first victory since last June when he won the U.S. Open over Rocco Mediate in a dramatic sudden-death playoff after enduring an 18-hole playoff. You just can't doubt Woods. Not here. Not anywhere.

You are probably asking what this all has to do with racing... Besides the fact that I enjoyed a full day of excitement and relaxation in the comfort of my own home it's important to realize a lesson from all this. Champions become champions not by doing something extraordinary but rather but simply being consistent. I have said it a thousand times before... If you want to be exceptional at anything then work at being consistent. Consistency is the key to success whether it be sports, business, health or anything else that life dishes out.

Any good endurance racer will tell you the same thing... You don't have to win every race, simply train and prepare to be consistent and you will win most of what you compete in.

Chihuahua Update

Well as expected a lot of the unexpected. There have been a lot of changes since yesterday. On a side note Gerie Bledsoe is having a very consistyent run and I hope he keeps it up. Lets all keep our fingers crossed for him. The results can be seen at the bottom of this post but first here is an excerpt and photos from Lauren's wonderful blog....

Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday's Racing
Yesterday was a long racing day, lots of ground to cover and lots of speed sections. The mechanical gremlins plagued us again today, sidelining us for and hour and a half in the morning's transit section. Fortunately, if we were going to break down anywhere all day, this was the place to do it. Again a brake related problem, left front caliper this time. But with the help of the very talented Mazda crew and Tom, we were on our way to catch up with the rest of the race.

We were too far behind to do any of the speed sections on the way to Copper Canyon, but it was a great practice time for me to still make the calls for the speed sections as we blew through them. And we caught up! There was just enough time to grab a sandwich, take in the breathtaking views of Copper Canyon (just for a second), take a picture and get right back in the car to join the race on the way back down.

WHAT A THRILL! The speed sections through the beautiful landscape were so much fun. Dad is an excellent driver and we did very respectable after having our issues. The Victoria ran great. The country that was drove through was very agricultural, lots of cattle, farming and apple orchards. Very beautiful.

Today takes us to the east to Ojinaga, ending up on a race track back here in Chihuahua. Should be a fun day!

For those of you DEMANDING pictures.

Friday morning at El Centro for the opening of the race.

The cars getting ready to leave to head out the first speed section, Pancho Villa statue in the middle.

Dad and me at Divisadero, the lookout at Copper Canyon.

After all of the speed sections, transiting back to Chihuahua in the afternoon. Beautiful!

1 66 Ricardo Triviño Marco Hernández Mex

2 137 Steve Waldman Felipe Argüelles USA / Mex

3 99 José Solana Mex / Mex

4 70 John Magnuson David Magnuson USA / USA

5 308 Mike Feezor Gary Hart USA

6 327 Chip Fudge J. Taylor Fudge USA

7 9 Gerie Bledsoe Fernando Garcia USA / USA

8 365 Wilhelm Ostrop Alex Ostrop Ger / Ger

9 390 Michael Sharp /LeCarner Jon LeCarner/Sharp USA / USA

10 63 Jake Shuttlesworth Tony Bogovich USA / USA

11 360 Helge Nyland Chris Cochrane USA / USA

12 122 Gabriel Pérez Horacio Chousal Mex / Mex

13 15 Francisco Peréa Víctor Pérez Mex / Mex

14 11 Eduardo López Márquez Luis Angel de la Brena Mex / Mex

15 77 José Antonio Calderón Mario Domenzain Mex / Mex

16 24 Frank Bushman Matthew Row USA/USA

17 21 Carlos Azcarate Manuel Lombera Mex / Mex

18 31 Rodrigo González Nanan Solana Mex / Mex

19 33 Frank Mckinnon John Putnam USA / USA

20 30 Bob Mitchell John Lyons USA / USA

21 133 Doug Mockett Angélica Fuentes USA / Mex

22 370 Marc Devis José Luis Caparros Bel

23 110 Stig Blomqvist Ana Goñi Swe / Ven

24 109 Francisco Márquez Araceli Ramírez Mex / Mex

25 32 Eduardo Henkel Sergio Puente Mex / Mex

26 12 Ralph Carungi Bill Richtert USA / USA

27 311 Gunter Sundag Barbara Hernandez USA / USA

28 43 Carson Scheller Lauren Scheller USA / USA

29 404 Brad Kaplan Derek Dwyer USA / USA

30 14 Lars Stugemo Jonny Olofsson Swe / Swe

31 203 Chris Sayler USA Chevy 32 425 John Gregory Chrislana Gregory Can / Can

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chihuahua Express Video

If there's one thing I know I can count on it's Marcia Blas to come up with some awesome videos and her choice of music is always spot on. Here is one Marcia put together from 2008 RoadRallyRhythms blog.

Chihuahua Update

Photo courtesy of Dyana Marlett

Lars Stugemo is out of the race. Not only did his engine blow up but while being towed back the tow truck broke down and so they didn’t get back to the hotel until 4 a.m.. Talk about a bad break.

Lars is one hell of a nice guy and as well as competitor but it seems to have a monkey on his back since last year he also had a bad time taking on the Chihuahua. Better luck next year Lars.

Chihuahua Update

It appears the results I posted yesterday are accurate since I just got a message from Doug Mockett that said...

We were 2nd OA behind Gabriel Perez and his new car. Stig holed radiator so DNF but back today with spare motor.

Chihuahua Update

Latest exerpt from Lauren Scheller's blog...

Friday, March 27, 2009
We get to race tomorrow!
Copper Canyon, here we come!
Dad, Tom Dragoun and John Gregory found the magic touch to get the brake situation fixed so tomorrow we race!!! Dad is VERY relieved and I'm excited to get on the road. Tomorrow's course is to Copper Canyon, a long day but will be a beautiful drive.
Many cars had problems today, several engines blown up, one car-to-road-sign-encounter, one "fuel issue" aka ran out of gas, a battery connection problem. I don't know many details, some of those racers will be back on the road tomorrow after getting differents parts and fixes. Sadly, our good friends John and Chrislana Gregory from Vancouver blew a rod in their engine of their Studebaker and are loaded and ready to leave in the morning. :( On the positive side, all of the teams have been very supportive to each other. I am again taken back at the comraderie and encouragement between racers, teams and support people.
Ok, got to go study the route book for tomorrow and make sure I take note of those 4 and 5 turns!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Today's Results

As usual, trying to depend on any results from any "official" site is like asking the fox if all the hens are in the hen house. They show two entire sets of results for today so we will have to wait until I get some input. We might get news faster if we lean out the back door and listen for the native Congo drums. Go Cheetha... Get news.

In the mean time "IF" there is any acuracy whatsoever to what they have posted, here are todays results. (Keep in mind there is another sheet with the same day but entirely differnt results.)

1 122 Gabriel Pérez Horacio Chousal Mex

2 133 Doug Mockett Angélica Fuentes USA / Mex

3 370 Marc Devis José Luis Caparros Bel

4 99 José Solana Jorge Bernal Mex / Mex

5 109 Francisco Márquez Araceli Ramírez Mex / Mex

6 31 Ricardo Vega Rodrigo González Mex / Mex

7 137 Steve Waldman Felipe Argüelles USA / Mex

8 15 Francisco Peréa Víctor Pérez Mex / Mex Caribe

9 33 Frank Mckinnon John Putnam USA / USA

10 11 Eduardo López Márquez Luis Angel de la Brena Mex / Mex

11 77 José Antonio Calderón Mario Domenzain Mex / Mex

12 9 Gerie Bledsoe Fernando Garcia USA / USA

13 365 Wilhelm Ostrop Alex Ostrop Ger / Ger

14 327 Chip J Fudge J. Taylor Fudge Chevy USA

15 Eduardo Henkel Sergio Puente Mex / Mex

16 21 Carlos Azcarate Manuel Lombera Mex / Mex

17 12 Ralph Carungi Bill Richtert USA / USA

18 24 Frank Bushman Matthew Row USA/USA

19 111 Todd Landon Vance F. Stewart USA / USA

20 66 Ricardo Triviño Marco Hernández Mex

21 311 Gunter Sundag Barbara Hernandez USA / USA

22 404 Brad Kaplan Derek Dwyer USA / USA

23 390 Michael Sharp /LeCarner Jon LeCarner/Sharp USA / USA

24 14 Lars Stugemo Jonny Olofsson Swe / Swe

25 110 Stig Blomqvist Ana Goñi Swe / Ven

26 203 Chris Sayler USA

27 63 Jake Shuttlesworth Tony Bogovich USA / USA

28 70 John Magnuson David Magnuson USA / USA

29 425 John Gregory Chrislana Gregory Can / Can

30 308 Mike Feezor Gary Hart USA

31 360 Helge Nyland Chris Cochrane USA / USA

32 30 Bob Mitchell John Lyons USA / USA

33 43 Carson Scheller

Lauren Scheller's Version of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Excerpts from Lauren Scheller's blog..........

Friday, March 27, 2009
the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Starting with the ugly to get it over with:

Going back to Tuesday when I last wrote...Funny how I thought that was bad. Little did I know that our border problem wouldn't be solved until late Wednesday afternoon (if you can call it "resolved"). Tuesday night drug out as follows: 7:00 pm - With no other resolution, the only option to get us across the border was to take the truck/trailer across as an empty and physically drive each car across the border as well. We only had an hour to do this bc the commercial gate (where the truck had to go) closes at 8:00pm. We decided we had to go for it so we busted ass to unload ALL of the cars plus all of the cargo. Then, at 7:40 with one more car to unload, we look over and the gate is closing (picture big steel gate in our new 15' border fence). Marco, the "broker who really isn't a broker after all" sped over in his car to tell them they can't close early and that we're trying to come though but they didn't like him telling them that so they called for reinforcements. Next thing we know a helicopter is flying over head. They didn't open back up. Exhausted and frustrated we called it a night at 10pm to go find food and somewhere to stay, leaving the cars and the trailer in the impound yard with the guard.

First thing Wednesday morning we get back to the cars to drive them each across and then take the truck across and then load all the cars, strap them down, and equipment and be on our way. Got through with re-loading by 11am and finally headed down the highway to Chihuahua City.

70 kilometers down the road we come to another Aduana (customs) stop. They check all of our papers for cars and truck and tell us that we need to turn around to go back to get one more permit for the truck. @#$%!!!

Back to the closest option, below Juarez, go to the Banjercito who gives out the permits. This was supposed to be a quick and easy process, maybe 20 minutes. 4 hours and much swearing later, we finally discover that we are stuck in the cross-fires of a political dispute between Mexico and the US. Something like We (the United States) shut down the border to semis coming in from Mexico. Thanks Obama. In return, Mexico isn't letting semis from the US come into Mexico. And the ladies who were supposed to give us the permit thought Tom's truck looked too much like a semi (even though it's registered in CA as a motor home) so they wouldn't issue the permit.

Disgusted and fed up, we decided that the cars would have to be unloaded and driven to Chi. Tom would have to drive his truck and trailer back to the Santa Teresa side to leave it in the safe yard where we were previously and he would drive the Suzuki Sidekick down to Chi this morning (Friday). The owners of the Lincolns had a taxi drive them the 200 miles up to get their cars, Dad and I drove down the Victoria. Wilhelm and Alex (red Chevelle) happened to see us on the side of the road as they headed south in their rental so they were able to have their permits changed so they could drive the Chevelle down. We packed all of the cars with our luggage, tires, parts and anything else we could and made the trek down to Chi.

It was actually a fun drive. We cruised at about 80 the whole way. Once it got dark I switched with Dad and drove the rest of the way. It only 3 1/2 hours and arrived at the hotel at 8:30 last night, completely worn out but relieved to be here.

Now the bad news:

When Dad and Tom were unloading the Victoria at Juarez, Dad noticed some brake fluid dripping down the inside of the front right tire. Upon taking the wheel off and looking inside the brakes*** they found that one of the O rings in one of the calipers was damaged, thus forcing the leak. Translation: We would soon have no brakes at all if the fluid kept leaking. Solution: Plug that brake so that it is "turned off" and rely on the 3 other brakes to get down to Chi. The car drove fine, just pulled hard to the left whenever we touched the brakes.

That brings us to the bad news: Without that brake working, we can't race.

***bonifide technical terms to follow

Now finally the GOOD NEWS:

It has turned out for the best that we didn't get to race today. We were still able to join in with opening "ceremonies" at the center of town this morning. I had a blast! We still wore our racing gear and pretended like we were really racing today. The only difference was that as all of the cars roared out of the center of town, we started on a hunt to find a new O ring. After going to several different car part shops, we found one that carried what we need, or as close as we can get to it.

The latest is that Dad and Tom are down at the car putting the brake back together. Fingers crossed that this works! If all goes well, Dad and I will be racing tomorrow. If not, we might spend the rest of the trip at the bar.

Movie Review... Fast & Furious 3

I have been asked to attend the premier showing of the newest release of FAST & FURIOUS in San Francisco this coming Monday and then write a review so a couple of my buddies and I will be there. If this movie is half as exciting as I am anticipating it will be I'm not sure I'll be able drive home without breaking about 30 or so laws before we get back home. That's just the way these car movies effect me.

Take a look for yourself and CLICK HERE to view a trailer.

Smokey Yunick's Take On La Carrera Panamericana

Anyone who has never heard of Smokey Yunick proba\bly hasn't heard of racing. Henry "Smokey" Yunick (May 25, 1923, Neshaminy, Pennsylvania – May 9, 2001 of leukemia) was a mechanic and car designer associated with motorsports in the United States.

Yunick was deeply involved in the early years of the NASCAR, and he is probably most associated with that racing genre. He participated as a racer, designer, and other jobs relating to the sport but was best-known as a mechanic, builder, and crew chief. He was renowned as a crotchety, crusty, opinionated character who "was about as good as there ever was on engines," according to Marvin Panch, who drove stock cars for Yunick and won the 1961 Daytona 500. His trademark white uniform and battered cowboy hat, together with a cigar or corncob pipe, were a familiar sight in the pits of almost every NASCAR or Indianapolis 500 race for over twenty years. In 1990 he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Smokey wrote a book titled, "All Right You Sons-a-Bitches, Let’s Have a Race!" and here is what he had to say about La Carrera Panamericana.

WARNING: For lack of a better word be warned that Smokey Yunick had what many might call a "colorful" way of putting things down on paper.

“Carrea Panamerica” means “Mexican Road Race” in
Spanish. I don’t know who dreamt this deal up, but if it
had a main sponsor, it should have been the morticians of
Mexico. Marshall Teague wanted to run a Hornet in the
’52 race. Hudson says, “Yeah, we like that…here’s ’bout
5,000 dollars…go tear ’em up!” We got three Hornets: a
race car, a tow car, and another Hornet to pull a two wheel
supply trailer. In the race it’s Marshall and co-driver Les
Snow. Les is a driver, and a pretty good one, from some
rough suburb of Chicago…a nice guy. Also a damn good
mechanic in general, though not an engine ace. One guy
on the crew was from Marshall’s gas station, Harry Van
Driel. Harry was a damn good general mechanic and is
still around. If I missed someone, I apologize.
We got ’bout 50 bucks a week and expenses. Some
motor companies spent a fortune to try and win.
Lincoln-Mercury were big spenders, with maybe the
greatest mechanic that ever lived, Clay Smith as their
main man. Watching Clay’s behavior, and absorbing his
preparation…it was a treat to watch one of our peers
show you how it should be done: so perfectly and with
seemingly effortless execution. Clay Smith was a genius.
Probably the greatest so-called “racing mechanic” in the
world at the time. But none of his ability impressed me
as much as his helping his competitors with advice, and
sometimes materials and tools. I’d watch him at 1:00 am,
knowing he was as tired as I was, in the garage where we
were preparing the cars for tomorrow’s run. He would go
help a competitor fix his carburetor so it wouldn’t flood.
True, the Lincoln budget was light years ahead of us, but
he still had time for anyone who asked him for help. He
did this in boats, Indy cars, midgets and stock cars. He
even ground his own cam shafts. I think his 1st year to
Indy, his car sat on the pole with a rookie driver, Walt
Faulkner. In three point hydro in both classes…(racing
boats) we run Ford 60s and Ford 85s…this was in the
early 50s…I worked my ass off to beat him. Next
week he’d come back and beat us again. The sad
thing really is, to this day, racing has never come
close to recognizing his contribution to helping
build the foundation U.S. auto racing sits on. You
know what really makes Clay Smith story so sad?
He was killed at a way early age by his own race
car. A sprinter that lost control coming off turn 2,
and got in the pits and “nailed” him. The driver
was one of Clay’s best buddies.
Back to the race. There are a thousand stories
’bout the Mexican Road Race. Hell, in 1950 Bill
France, Sr. and Curtis Turner co-drove an “upside-
down bathtub” (Nash) in the race. Well, we
drive down through Matamoras (Brownsville,
Texas). We have been told all kinds of horror stories
’bout the bad roads soon as you enter
Mexico…(’cept the Pan American’ hi-way to El
Paso). I’m driving one Hornet, towing the race car.
We cross over into Mexico and hell, it’s a good
paved three lanes…for three miles.
Turn a corner…Bam!… running 60 and the
asphalt stops no, one lane dirt… wrong road? turn
around? down a little hill… hard turn… pow!!
Wheeeeeee!!…river…no bridge… whooooeeeee…
goddam near drove ’er in a small river. The river’s
got a flat deck barge, but river is way up from too
much rain, (yet when we crossed the Rio Grande
in Brownsville, it was damn near bone dry)…
river’s too wild… can’t cross. Turns out five bucks
gets river crossable (barely). Really, that was a very
hazardous crossing. We could have lost everything
we had. A single cable keeps barge from getting
out of hand and you pull yourself across with ropehand-
power. Well we manage the skinny, rough
roads until we find the Pan American hi-way to
Mexico City. (From there to Mexico City, roads
good…very good) Mexico City…everything’s
same as today I think, ’cept then it was 90 percent
smaller. Traffic rules are Russian roulette, kinda
“don’t let the other guy see your eyeballs.” It’s actually
a game of “chicken.” There were no traffic
lights there. A very loud horn was best driving aid.
In Mexico City we work on car at the Hudson
dealership. We can’t speak Spanish, but the dealer’s
got a 15 or 16 year old son. A real nice guy and
helper. He’s going with us as our interpreter.
(Good idea as it turned out.) Gotta have a place to
stay for five days. Taxi driver says “Go to Angel’s,
best place in town” Angel’s is a big house, 15 bucks
a day for room and three meals…free booze part of
rent…free hookers and dirty movies all day and
night…all for 15 bucks a day. Yes, it was all
good… for a dose of the crabs…quite an interesting
The owner took a liking to our driver. I
observed her giving oral sex to him with a condom
on. That puzzled and amused me. Actually… Les
Snow, the co-driver, brought it to my attention…
it was as interesting, I think, as the discovery I had
made a few minutes earlier. After Les guided me to
the room where our landlady was attempting to
relax the driver, I then showed him my startling
discovery. Remember I said “whiskey no charge?”
Well if a tenant had sex with a waitress or bartender,
an old lady would come in room after, and
wash your sex parts with whiskey. Makes sense
right? Well, on the second day I notice a door and
I wonder “where does that go?” So I open door and
am startled to see an old lady pouring whiskey out
of wash basins into a funnel stuck into a whiskey
bottle. I realize “Hey! That’s what we were drinking”…
(No wonder it had an unusual flavor) We
soon solved that problem. We were able to buy a
quart of good whiskey for ’bout three bucks.
I will always have a fond spot in my heart for
Angel’s place. Those young ladies actually taught
me some things that the Californian’s hadn’t got to
yet…(the deal with the beads in particular).
Although that deal actually had a few draw backs
– I got no rest at all. I told you about acquiring a
group of annoying passengers in an area you see
baseball players scratch all the time. Every time I
see it on TV, I smile and say “wonder if they been
to Angel’s?” Piggins had made arrangements for us
to stay in a private home in Mexico City, so when
Les and I turned in our expenses (5 days, $75 as
medical expenses for the “Inca flu”). Piggins disallowed
the expenses. I guess he was pissed we didn’t
invite him over there.
I’m really grateful to Marshall for including me
in the race. It was an experience. When Marshall
first invited me, I understood I was gonna be a codriver.
Now co-drivers never drove. They just sat in
right side of front seat and hollered…“Watch
it!”…“Slow down!”…“Turn right you dumb shit
or you’ll never make it!”…“Whoo-ee!”…“Ohshit!”…
or when you passed someone in your class,
give ’em the finger. But when the time came, Les
got the co-driver job. The race was run on a new
paved road (two lane) that run from El Paso in the
United States to Tuxtla, at southern end of Mexico
at beginning of Central America. One-half mile
south of town, road went to jungle… not even dirt
road. The Pan American hi-way race was 1,934
miles long in 1952 we ran it in five days: 1st leg:
Tuxtla to Oaxaca; 2nd leg: Oaxaca to Puebla; 3rd
leg: Puebla to Mexico City; 4th leg: Mexico City to
Leon, 5th leg: Leon to Durango; 6th leg: Durango
to Porral; 7th leg: Porral to Chihuahua; 8th leg:
Chihuahua to Juarez. The race was a mountain
road race, on a typical mountain…sharp turns…
always either gaining or losing altitude…with no
goddam guard rails and plenty of 5,000 foot
straight down drops in case you slid off. Damn
rite, somebody got wiped out ’bout every day…
and sometimes spectators…actually, 26 people
(mostly spectators) died in five years.
I left out something regarding Mexican culture
and law. Radios and guns…it was not legal to have
a radio capable of any distance to speak of…so getting
car in country with radio was a son-of-abitch…
and if that radio was gone when you tried
to leave country…that was hell. So guess what
would get stolen quicker than a cat could lick it’s
ass? Right…the radio. I took radio out, and antenna
off, and hid them in with spare parts. Guns?
gave ’em away in Brownsville coming in when I
heard how that worked. More about guns later.
Now the little town where race started, is at the
southern very end of Mexico. This is mountain…
dry, poor, old-old town, but they had a Ford deal-
ership there that was one half block square
(inside). This dealership had a huge parts department.
Very few cars, new or used…but at least one
of every kind of tool to work on Fords, Lincolns
and Mercurys made in the world, and take my
word for it, them cats knew how to use ’em. They
had some uncanny metal, or body men…threw
away damn near nothing…straightened everything…
like big Cadillac bumperette…How? Split
’em in four pieces… straightened each piece, then
welded back together. They had a chrome plating
facility that amazed me. The Mexican state troopers
all run Mercurys. A wild bunch…you haven’t
lived until you get on latin country roads, including
cities. No traffic lights, big-assed loud horns,
and the code of the hills is “big is better”…so
100,000 pound tractor and trailer double, owned
the road. (Yes, they had them…pulled by French
tractors where 15 year old kids rode on both front
fenders and hand oiled the valve gear… huge
engines, diesel, ’bout 1,000 cubic inches.) For
some reason these Latino truckers ride in the middle
of a two lane hi-crown road and drive like a
“bat out of hell.” I swear, when they wind down
out of the mountains and hit a town, they add 30
miles per hour and blow the horn like a freight
train going through Fayetteville. Most Latinos
can’t drive worth a shit, but some of them cats with
a little experience and good equipment, can race
any son-of-a-bitch in the world.
Back to the Carerra Panamerica. OK… Here’s
how it works. Race starts around 6:00 or 7:00 am
in morning (first daylight)…cars are flagged off a
couple minutes apart… ’bout 10 classes, so “hot
dogs” go first. Idea is to keep “hot dogs” from wading
through “slow stuff.” This is a real road course
– no fences or guard rails either. The way they kept
people and animals back, or kept regular cars off
the road was to station soldiers within sight distance
of each other on alternating sides of the road.
(By the way, they drive on same side of the road we
do.) It’s a simple deal…in the race hours the road’s
closed. If an animal or human attempts to cross
during the forbidden hours, the soldier shoots
your ass “to kill.” The race I was in, a young man
right on outskirts of Tuxtla, crossed the road…soldier
shot and killed him. A friend of mine, (well
actually a friend of any racer), Don O’Reilly, had
a magazine called “Speed Age” and witnessed this
deal. He like to went “ape-shit” over it. I seen him
a few months ago at his house, and we talked
about the killing.
OK…pit crew: at the end of every “leg” you
got lots of things to fix. (Reference: sliding off the
road, tires, broken engine) so the pit crew gets cars
ready to race, then you drive your ass off all night
to get to next check-point, cause if you don’t make
it by “road closing,” it’s over for that team. Well,
“we” (the Hudson team) are the Mexican Hudson
dealer’s son, Marshall’s mechanic/employee, hibuck
10-dollar-a-day-man Harry Van Driel and
myself. The back of car is full of parts and tools,
and we are pulling a two wheel trailer loaded with
tires, parts and fuel. We had to carry everything we
needed. At that time in Mexico, a gas station was
a collection of 50 gallon drums along the road at a
house. You stop…toot your horn and maybe. We
all ride in front seat…either Harry or I drive. Let’s
call the son, (’bout 15) José OK? (I forgot his real
name, sorry.). José is our interpreter, and a damn
good one. Can speak English super…we have to
really haul ass to get to next race checkpoint. First
night, just ’bout midnight on Isthmus of
Tojuanapec Road on the only straight level ground
in whole race, (’bout sea level), all of a sudden…
road block (with driftwood)! I’m asleep…car is
lurching…tires screeching…horn blowing…guns
going off. Harry, the dumb shit has decided to run
through the road block, running ’bout 90, with
the trailer flying all over hell behind. As I look in
rear view mirror, I see what looks like career-ending
flying experiment of a Mexican highway bandito.
The trailer catches him, and he gets a trampoline
type launch from the swinging trailer. I
think “Harry can file at least one notch on side of
the steering wheel”…(but probably two)…or we
can paint something on side of car (kinda’ like
fighter planes did in war for a shot down enemy)
…well nothing broke.
Next night Harry’s driving again, I’m opposite
side…José in middle. Hear brakes, then downshift
and wide-ass open engine. José’s hollerin’
“Stop!!!”…I look up… horses lined up across road,
and up each bank…’bout 20 of ’em…all got rifles,
and they are coming down. Twenty rifles are aimed
at the windshield. I reach over, turn key off. Harry
gets ’er whoa’ed ’bout five feet from the end of
twenty rifle gun barrels. The boss-man is ’bout five
foot four tall by five foot four around; got glasses
and a mustache; got a “general” kinda hat with a
strap to hold it on when his horse is going real fast.
I can’t understand him, but he is pissed! And Jose
is talking his little diplomatic ass off to keep Harry
from being turned into a very dead gringo son-ofa-
bitch. (You know Harry, I doubt you have any
idea how close you came to having a rock sitting in
a cemetery, where the last thing on it said “1952.”)
Well ’bout nine-ten bucks was cost of “permission”
to continue on our mission to next check-point at
Oaxaca… You’d think by now I’d get thinking and
put Harry’s ass in the trailer and drive myself.
Nope, I need some rest…ain’t no way in hell it’s
gonna happen again rite?…so I doze off. Now
we’re in bad very-very twisty mountains, ’bout
4:00 am, Getting close to check point – one to one
and a half hours out. Car’s slowing… I hear José
raising hell with Harry. I wake up…we are damn
near stopped, going up real steep hill. I see ’bout
20 Mexicans…rocks across the road. One cat had
a pistol…’bout 10 with machetes. Whoa Nellie! I
wind window down…I’m opposite Harry, Jose in
middle. Mr. Bandito is shit-faced drunk… Got a
pistol with ’bout an 18 inch barrel, and he sticks it
in my right ear. Harry don’t see the pistol, and as
men move around in front of car, and José tries to
negotiate a peaceful arrangement which will let us
continue to Oaxaca without any leaks in our blood
carrying equipment, (engine’s still running). I hear
Harry say “I’m gonna floor it and take off – road
is clear now.” I say, “Harry, before you do, check
over here and see what’s sticking in my right ear
and note the drunken and unhappy attitude of the
cat that’s holding it.” Well ’bout two quarts of
wine (a departure present from the ladies at
Angel’s), about three or four bucks and one five
gallon can of gas cured that deal. We get to Oaxaca
an hour before road closure, so I decide to notify
authorities about our terrible experiences. (Get the
cops in the deal.) José says, “I don’t think so”…I
say, “Bullshit,” so we go. It ain’t far. Still dark as
hell. As I walk into station I damn near have a
heart attack. There sits Mr. Five Foot Four’s twin
brother (the horse bandit)…even the same clothes
– boots and hat. I know it’s impossible for it to be
the same man…no vehicle passed us all night. Or
was it the same man?…maybe there’s another
road? Anyway, José explains whole terrible deal.
Mr. Mexican general rolls to the side, lets out a big
fart, and eats José’s ass out, and tells us “get our ass
over to check-point garage and keep our damn
mouths shut, or our ass is in jail.” “OK, OK’…
I’ve heard ’bout Mexican jails, and we ain’t hurt.
“Come to think about it, maybe it never happened…
maybe I dreamt it’ we got our stuff out to
do our work, but still got to wait four or five
hours. An American tourist…(big trout fisherman…
fly rod champion of the world I think) is a
Hudson Hornet lover, matter of fact, has a year old
Hornet right outside. He can’t go till race cars
come and go (remember the system…“road closed
to public and animals for a time?”) He tells me
about Mexican’s trying to hold him up. He was
fishing some place to our west, and came onto the
Pan American highway ’bout 20 miles before “Mr.
Long barrel pistol.” They set up a road block with
small rocks. He got scared and pulled a “Harry
Van Driel, and run the road block. I said “Did they
shoot at you?…Did it hurt your car?” “Hell
no!…I’m a good driver!…I then notice a dark
puddle under the engine, and a wet looking place
at rear of the car, so I get a light and get close…
You guessed it: oil and gas leaking. Turned out
“Mr. Good Hudson driver” had ’bout no oil in oil
pan (a rock from road block caused oil pan to
flunk the “hit a rock with the oil pan at 60 miles
per hour test”) and “Mr. Very Lucky Champion
Fly Fisherman Hudson-loving Good Driver-lucky
Son-of-a-bitch, only had 22, yup…22 bullet holes
in back of his “lucky black Hornet.” Well “Lucky”
decided he wanted to talk to the American ambassador
to Mexico…said he knew him (maybe he
gave him a free fish) about this outrage. So I directed
him to the military headquarters and “General
Fat-ass.” I don’t know what happened, but we left
’bout four hours later, and the “lucky black trout
fishin’ Hornet” with 22 bullet holes in it was still
sittin’ there, and the puddle of oil under engine
was ’bout two foot in diameter. If your still living
“Mr. Champion Fisherman,” I’d appreciate a note
from you telling me how that deal ended. From
there on, I never got to meet any more Mexican
bandits, but I kinda’ have a little idea how those
people felt when they were on the stage coaches
and they were attacked and robbed. I guess it’s
tougher the way we had it, cause only José knew
what the bad guy was saying. (You know, Harry
might have been a stage coach driver in a previous
Another thing I haven’t mentioned was the
goofy spectators. Wherever anybody run off the
road and got killed last year, that’s where there
would be 4,000 people – rite up to the edge of the
road, and as a rule on the outside of turns. Then in
Mexico City, you’re coming in straight…running
over a hundred…you’ve been off the road three or
four times front and back. (What’s the tires look
like?). There’s damn near a million people lined up
for four or five miles with their toes on edge of
asphalt, and your going by ’em at over 100, rubbing
your left and right door handles against their
tits. What if a tire lets go? Those in back shoved
those in front, and they couldn’t back up. No, it
never happened…maybe courtesy of the Inca
gods…but in general, few races in the world
extracted an unacceptable high cost in lives, sheet
time, and inconvenience to the citizens as the
Mexican road race. The same thing, reference
crowds, happened coming into Juarez at end of the
Clay Smith and his Lincolns, and Bill Stroppe
and his Mercurys dominated those races. Marshall
and Les did pretty good. I think they ran from
fifth, and I believe ended up seventh in stock car
class and thirteenth overall. The whole deal took
’bout 22 hours racing time. Hershel McGriff, from
Portland Oregon, won the first race which
changed his life forever. I remember the car. An
Olds 88, with a clever sign on it from Portland,
Oregon “For You in Portland, a Rose Grows”…
Who in the hell ever heard of a sponsor who sold
roses in early ’50s? Hershel I guess is still going…
He turned out to be very good, and last I heard
was ’bout 70, and still winning.
The Mexican Road Race was a wild chapter in
American racing’s early experiments while trying
to find it’s way, or to find a place where those who
loved to go fast went to hear those loud, tortured
engines. The hope was to establish a least an annual
event that could fund the competitors sufficiently
so that they could do it one more time next
year. There are attempts to re-establish parts of
that exciting time…but men, you missed the boat.
It has come, and it has gone…like the Pony
Mercedes won the race with a gull-wing coupe,
with, I believe, a German driver (in 1952). John
Fitch, a yankee American driver, was at his prime,
and really doing the best job…but poor John got
screwed by the Germans. They wanted a German
driver to win, and as I remember, they had four or
five cars in the race. At race end, Fitch gets disqualified
cause he can’t curse in German, and Karl
Kling, a German race hero got the marbles. The
Mexican Road Race ran many classes…from the
fastest sports cars in the world to stock car to little
shit-box sports cars with ’bout 100 horsepower at
8,000 rpm. So this race was between Mercedes and
Ferrari. I guess the four things I remember most
were: Number One – Angel’s guest accommodations.
Number Two – watching and working with
Clay Smith. In my book Clay, you’re “#1” by a
ton. Number Three – The pit action of Ferrari and
Mercedes…particularly the Germans: they performed
as an army exhibition marching team, like
robots with human minds. Watching John Fitch
die a million deaths trying to get his car repaired
(he developed brake trouble) But the real act was
No Keystone Cop movie can ever match the
act those 20 “dago” mechanics, drivers and staff,
put on at every pit stop. They were poorly
equipped in all ways but bodies. At mid-point of a
day’s running, you have to fuel – change tires – and
as a rule, change drivers…(Only the hottest sports
cars had professional sports car drivers).
Remember all these had co-drivers…(Some dumb
shit who strapped his ass down in right hand seat,
or left hand, as case might be) to yell at driver his
observations, opinions, advice and/or criticism.
Driving a race car is, as a rule, fun. But be a passenger
in a fast car with a great driver, or even
worse, with some terrible driver with tons of
money and the balls of an elephant…and do this
five to 10 hours a day for four or five days. As far
as I’m concerned, is like sitting in an electric chair
for that amount of time waiting on them to fix a
problem in the system so they can fry your ass.
Well the drivers jump out, after sliding a quarter of
a mile, and ending up running over their pit setup.
Why?…he is headed for the shit house…
remember he’s on ’bout on his fifth day of Mexican
food. During a Carrera Panamerica stop, besides
changing tires, (and fueling in case of sports cars),
you had to for sure replace brake pads, and fix or
“band-aid” whatever else is “not doing it.” The
Ferrari tire changers best act was to drop car without
the wheel on yet…or put front tire on rear, or
vise-versa. The fuelers, (with cans), dumping gas
all over everybody and everything…and sometimes
catch car on fire on re-start. The “soakers”
getting smacked by the “soak-ee’s” and the “soakee”
attempting to dump gas on “soaker” to get
even. But by far the best act was the water boys.
They used garden water cans, (like your grandmother
used to water her garden…with built in
funnel…held ’bout a gallon and a half). The
Ferraris run hot…so as tires, fuel and brake pad
were being done, two to four guys open hood and
start dumping water on radiator and into radiator.
In the process, the brake pad, and/or tire guy, gets
an unexpected bath, which pisses him off…so he
jumps up, grabs the bucket and dumps it on radiator
man, or the contest is even, and two guys are
in a “bucket pulling contest,” during which, driver
accidentally gets a bucket of water down his helmet
and back. Now mix in ’bout five officials, who
don’t know what the hell they’re doing either, and
Ferrari staff and race brass get into it…so now you
got a mixture of Italian-Spanish, and maybe some
English, French and German…cursing and lots of
pushing and pulling…rule books, pit boards, and
“motherfucker” in three to four languages. In addition
to this, is a hoard of afficionados: ex-racers,
wannabe racers, rich fans, about ten “Miss Italy’s,”
and the news media (no TV yet). Every once in
awhile throw in a Mexican policeman and
farmer… (Wantin’ to get paid, or “put your ass in
jail” for a cow, donkey, pet or chickens you ran
over last year.) And in Pueblo, a teen-age young
lady with ’bout a three month old baby. Seems like
a driver last year left some of his seeds with the little
lady, and she wanted to talk to that driver about
marriage, and a home in Italy…and it seemed like
her father and brother had a different plan. They
wanted to kill the son of a bitch. (This was in
Ferrari pit.) Since big sports cars started first, and
run fastest, we got to watch the deal from best seats
before our cars came in. Number Four – the
Mexican hi-way banditos, and their version on
how to run a toll-road without any investment in
it. Maybe Number Five could have been the “Inca
trot,” caused by not being cursed by it in Mexico
City at Angel’s, and my assumption “I can drink
the water and eat the vegetables…it don’t bother
me.” I left a trail from Tuxtla to El Paso, and back
into Florida…but it helped in later life, during the
early sixties in my adventures in the jungle oil
fields and gold mines in the Ecuadorian Oriente, I
did not challenge the local medical wisdom of how
to avoid the “toilet paper boogie.”
Racing needed this five days of stupidity to
guide us…but we didn’t know it was a mistake
until we did it…though it sure was a shame so
many died. Actually, considering the scope of the
race, the management did a hell of a job when you
think of all the details of such an event. For those
who would re-create this race today…some advice:
just assemble all drivers in an auditorium and play
Russian roulette instead. This spares the people
who live on the race’s proposed route the loss of
several days of their lives, and the almost sure loss
of several lives. Racing has “been there and done
that.” I learned one sentence “besame culo” in
Spanish…(means “kiss my ass) and two Spanish
words: “Adios” and “gracias.”
“Adios” Carrera Panamerica… and “gracias.”

Today's Route


Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Chihuahua News

At about 6:am today Lauren Sheller reported that they were about an hour away from Chihuahua. Keep in mind their car was loaded on Toms big rig along with several other cars which were also supposed to be at the same event. There was such a mess at the border that none of them were allowed across and they not only were they held up for an entire day but they had to get a hotel for the night and spend another entire day waiting to get across. But wait... it gets worse. Tom's big rig was not allowed across the border just like I wrote in yesterdays report and so teams had to take their cars off the truck and cram everything they could get into the race cars and then drive them to the hotel from there. That means all their personal belongings, spare parts, tools and supplies as well as the drivers and crew all had to be in the race car. Heaven forbid they need to tow home.

I hope the fact that they missed the entire first day will not effect them as far as the race is concerned. When we ran La Carrera Panamericana we were given the option of whether or not we wanted to take part in qualifying so hopefully this organization will do the same thing.

I would hope the organizers of this event will take some drastic measures for future events to ensure teams are not held up like this at future events. It seems they should have already been prepared since this has happened at prior events. All I can say is shame on them.

LATE EDIT: Dyana Marlett wrote... "Good news! Our friends got their cars across the border and arrived @ the hotel t'night! Got trapped in the political fighting between the US and Mex truck drivers...Stig gridded first, the Mex dudes second, Mockett third and Lars 6th....things will sort themselves out manana for sure!"

Chihuahua Express Update

The latest report from Dyana Marlett gave me reson to have concern for my friends Lauren and Carson Scheller. She said there is still no sign of them and I can only assume Tom's rig with the other race cars didnt make it either. Bummer.

Dyana also says... "Looks like Lars had the fastest track time today, followed by Stig, the Mex dudes and then Doug...I think thats how it went down. But, we'll see how they grid them manana anyway."

As you can see in the photos, they are qualifying at a Autodromo Francisco Villa which has been there for some time however they reecently add a new road course which is only a few minutes from the hotel. How cool is that and from what I can see it's a nice looking road course.

CLICK HERE to see a PDF map of the track.

Photos courtesy of Dyana Marlett

What Could Possibly Be More Dangerous Than Racing In Mexico?

Click here and see.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ya Can't Get In and Ya Can't Get Out

Photo courtesy of Laruen Scheller.

I'm talking about teams trying to get their cars and teams across the border and into Mexico. I can remember last year when some teams spending an entire day attempting to get their cars across the border and in the end had to leave both their trailers and tow rigs and drive their race cars to the hotel in Chihuahua.

Once again it seems not much has changed this year. Lauren Scheller reports on her blog that even with the help of a professional customs broker whom was supposed to help get Tom's big car hauler loaded with Lauren and Carson Scheller's and some other race cars painlessly across the border but still they have been sitting there over 5 hours. After a long two day haul to get there end then end up so close you can taste it, must be very frustrating to say the least. I saw next time we just start a convoy and get a big run at it and go like hell, run the routes and then head on home.

And Even More Race History Unfolds

The other day a friend asked if we had some in-car video of Will or Jon at last weekends Infineon race. Will and Jon did not have their cameras on this weekend but coincidentally our friend Ken Kurtz did. Not only did he have his camera on but he made some racing history and set a record while doing it. Here is an in-car video of Ken running a single lap at Infineon.

Oh yeah... I forgot to tell you... This is the smallest car to ever run a lap on the world famous Infineon Raceway. It is a 1/5 scale RC F1 car and was doing fine except each time my good buddy, Executive Director of NASA, Jerry Kunzman, would key up a 5 watt radio next to the transmitter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Return To Mexico? I Never Really Left.

For many years my wife has said Africa is my mistress and has known of my love for her since I was a boy. Fortunately she has allowed me to go be with her as often as I like albeit not as often as I want. I believe everyone has a mistress of sorts... a never dying love for some one or some place that keeps them longing to return again and again. It's akin to Tony Bennett's love of San Francisco when he sings "I Left My Heart In San Francisco". Something just takes a piece of our heart and holds it and it keeps calling out to us.

Today I was reading a friend's blog in which she wrote about her need to return to Mexico which is not an unfamiliar urge, aspiration, or hunger amongst anyone who has competed in La Carrera Panamericana and it's the same type of longing I have read a thousand times before. The truth is, I feel as if I never really left Mexico and some mornings when I wake up from a deep sleep I hope it's time to jump up, get into my racing suit and head to the arch for the next speed stage. If I had my way I'd do it every day for the rest of my life.

One of the things I love most about La Carrera Panamericana is that even though it all started almost 60 years ago, nothing has really changed. For all intensive purposes, Mexico looks very much today as it did back then. Not only is it a wonderfully exciting country but it's beautiful, historical and breathtaking and nowhere in the world will you ever find a road race one tenth as exciting as this one.

Take a look at these photos taken in November 1953 by photographer Ralph Morse for Life magazine and you will see they look as if they could have been taken in this years race. Not only will you see drivers, their cars and teams as well as familiar places but you can see the thousands of Mexican race fans that lined the city streets, highways and roads with every bit as much excitement today as there was 60 years ago.

The Mexican auto race co-pilot is opening the car door to help bank the care around the steep curve past the guarding soldiers.

An all familier site of frustration during La Carerra Panamericana when a car breaks down or crashes as Vladimir Olanque is wiping way the accessive oil from his face after quiting the Mexican auto race.

Yet another common site... Two members of the Lincoln's 28 man crew are catching a nap in the hammocks while the others are working on the racing cars.

Crowds of people watching as the checkered flag is waving while a car crosses the finish line in Juarez, Mexico.

Men, women & children sitting along the wrapping themselves in blankets while watching the Pan Amer Sports Car Race.

A man walking in the middle of the road carrying a large crate on his back is being followed by a compact Pan American sports car.

An arial shot of the long winding Pan American Road Race that is circulating throughout the desert area. This is the very road we raced on and it looks exac tky the same today as it did then.

A top view of the scenic route illustrating people gathering up and down the sides of the roads during the beginning phase of the La Carrera Panamericana.

Juan Fangio receiving adoring congratulations from the Lancie crew.

This photo says it all. A squeamishly acting Mary Faulkner looking up and saying, "Oh make it Lincoln," to her husband who is driving in one of the winning Lincolns. She even has her fingers crossed.

Last but not least... every race needs a trophy gal. Here is winner Walter Faulkner receiving a congratulating kiss from his wife.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Chihuahua Express... Some Call It The La Carrera Panamericana Tune Up

By now many of the teams are headed out to Mexico for the 3rd annual running of The Chihuahua Express which always proves to be an exciting event. Lots of speed, crashing, comeraderie and good times and all the tequilla you can handle. This year we have a good friend, Dyana Marlett, who will do her best to keep us all posted with daily reports and if we're really lucky some awesome photos so stayed tuned in as things get underway on March 27, 28 1n3 29th. It's gonna be great.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Infineon Update...

I just got an update to yesterdays results... Because the second place car punted another car which caused all the excitement in turn 4, he was DQ'd. As a result, Jon finished in 2nd place! Furthermore it turns out Jon turned in the single fastest lap during the race (.5 sec) faster than Will. Had he managed to not get caught behind the melee with our good friend Donny Edwards, he could have probably pulled off the win. But in the end Team California's Best took the top two podiums! What a go guys.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Is In The Air

Besides the fact that spring has officially begun which means the leafs are bursting, the flowers are blooming, the animals are... well, never mind, I think you get the general idea.... It's the beginning of the spring racing season here in California and there is nothing more exciting than racing this time of year. Everything is green, cars are new, drivers and teams are excited to try out new machinery and more. To make things all the better, this time of year can bring the added excitement of rain showers right in the middle of a race.

Regarding the first race of this spring season was no exception and even better was that Team California's Best made me damn proud today and if it's excitement everyone was looking for at Infineon Raceway this weekend they got their moneys worth that's for sure.

This was the debut weekend for team mate Jon Emerson's SE30 BMW and an impressive one it was at that. What I found most exciting about Jon's new ride was the fact that between Jon and Will this car was completed in almost record time and is without a doubt the most beautifully detailed SE30 car on the planet earth. For those of you who didn't already know, Jon's middle name is "Detail".

But as impressive as the build was, both in detail and quality, what I found even more spectacular was this car went from Jon's garage onto a trailer straight to the track and never even saw so much as a lap around a city block. After it came off the trailer this morning it went straight onto the race track. Just as I arrived at the track Jon had just come off the track after a warm up lap and had one small fuel and coolant leak which a small repair and all ready for qualifying.

With less than an hour before qualifying we began to hear raindrops on top of the canopy. Oh crap! Like Jon said, "I'm not afraid to drive my brand new car in the rain..... It's some of those other drivers that scares the B-Jesus out of me."

If there's one thing Jon and Will enjoy the hell out of it's racing in the rain and boy could I tell you some stories. Just let me say this... when it starts raining and you look into either one of their eyes you see something akin to Jack Nicholson's face in the movie, The Shining, when he says, "Heeeere's Johnny!" CLICK HERE to see what I mean. Later today I overheard Jon and another driver arm-chair racing when Jon told him, "The rain and lots of traffic are my best friends." Almost as if it was planned, no sooner than qualifying began so did the rain but when it was all over, Will had set a new SE30 lap record (even though it was wet) and Jon's new toy had performed absolutely perfect and qualifyied him in 8th. Don't forget, Jon hasnt even been behind a wheel for some time.

Since the main heat race wasn't until 5:00 in the afternoon there was plenty of time to just enjoy seeing old friends and hanging out. I even drove over to the esses and took a two hour nap ocassionally looking up to watch the Star Mazda formula guys battle it out for a while. Then it was time for the big event of the day as the SE30 BMW's took the track and let me tell you there was a bunch of beautiful looking cars too. Even the high dollar Porches with their whale tails looked bland by comparison. What was interesting about this race was one lap some of the sections of track would be soaked with rain and two laps later those sections would be dry but others would be wet. For the entire race the drivers never knew from one lap to the next what the next corner would be let alone the line.

Here are a couple short videos of the race.

On the very first lap as the large pack of SE30 BMW's came into turn 4 a car got got sideways and then collected by another car and it was every man for himself. Will was just ahead of it all and Jon did an awesome job of getting through the whole maze and moved up a few spots. By the time Will had reached the bottom of 6 he was well in the lead. As the race progressed Will kept opening up his lead and Jon kept picking off cars on his way to the front of the pack. It's important to know there are four seperate clases of race cars running at the same time some of which are Porsches, Miatas, and others but even that didnt stop Jon and Will of doing so well that not only did they catch up with the tail end of their own class but in fact lapped some them as well. And this was on a WET racetrack... Simply a spectacular site to watch.

Jon smiling while waiting in impound.

When all was said and done two of Californis's Best Team drivers stood on the podium. Will with a first and Jon with third. How awesome is that for the first day of spring?

This photo was taken for our good friend Gary from Canada at THE GARAGE to show him how to drive past a cone WITHOUT killing it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Punch It Baby!

Where In The Hell Can I Find That Part?

Many of us car buffs who enjoy what we consider "the finer machinery" which is just about anything built prior to 1970, often encounter the need for what might be an obsolete part. Many times even if a part is being reproduced the quality is so substandard that the worn out part just might be better. Sad but true. But with today's technology just about any part can be had and not only quickly and easily but at a reasonable cost. Check out this recent video from Jay Leno's Garage where Jay explains how all this new technology has made our lives better.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Absolutely Nothing To Do With LCP

But you must admit it's an awesome racing commercial none the less. On the other hand some might argue that Ferrari learned a lot as a result of their involvement in LCP. It's important to note this commercial was NOT computer generated. This video brings the term "street racing" to a whole new level. In what was reported to be the most expensive television commercial ever created, Shell filmed a variety of historic Ferrari Formula 1 cars blasting through the streets of some of the world's greatest cities. The crew visited Rome, Monaco, Rio, Sydney, New York, London and Hong Kong during the month-long shoot. Called "Circuit," the two-minute ad celebrates 60 years of Shell and Ferrari working together. The incredibly vivid commercial is the brainchild of Partizan's Antoine Bardou Jacquet and producer David Stewart.

For a really cool full screen version click here then click on CIRCUIT TV ADVERT

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sam Gezari's La Carrera Panamericana Book

Many of you who ran the 2008 La Carrera Panamericana may have met Sam Gezari who is in the process of creating a couple books about La Carrera Panammericana. As soon as I see one I will be more than glad to give you a complete review.

Here is a note from Sam along with a few photos.....

To All Drivers, Mechanics, Organizers and Enthusiasts:

Hello! Some of you may remember me, I met many of you, and watched in awe as you all risked life and limb racing across Mexico, through driving rain and blazing heat, up mountains and across deserts. What a great race we had in 2008! For those of you who I didn't have a chance to meet, I want to extend my warmest regards and best wishes as well for the upcoming year.

After a couple months of sorting through the images, editing and organizing, I've made the final cut, and am working hard on the two separate books that will be published in June. One of them will be a beautiful hardcover book with over 100 images from his years race. The other will be a limited edition, signed and customized version, containing many images and an additional group of numbered and signed loose prints selected from the large format photographs.

I just wanted to thank all of you for being so welcoming, for sharing this experience with me and for making this the best race in the world!

Congratulations to everyone, and best of luck in the New Year.

Please visit the website to learn more and watch the progress.


Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Best regards.

Sam Gezari

(213) 880 4001

Click here to visit Sam's blog.

Click here for pre-order form.

Friday, March 13, 2009



How about a "Carrera Corral" at Dream Machines in Half Moon Bay airport on Sunday, April 26?

Here is the web site for the event: http://www.miramarevents.com/dreammachines/

As most of you from the Bay Area know, this is probably the largest show in the country of any machine that can drive, fly, plow, or saw wood.

One year they had a flight of P-51 Mustangs that strafed the airport, plus B-17 rides.

It would be great to put our Carrera cars or other machines together under the Carrera banner, catch up, and see some of the fine machinery that comes to this show. It is all very informal. There is no judging, and food is available, of course.

For those of you who do not know the Half Moon Bay area, it is a wonderful stretch of California coastline, which includes long sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. We are 30 miles south of the city of San Francisco, and about 30 minutes from the San Francisco International Airport.

We have a Ritz Carleton with a great golf course (LPGA quality at least), and the usual assortment of hotels and restaurants along the beach from Pacifica down to Santa Cruz. The famous surf break, Maverick's, and Pillar Point Harbor are short walk from the airfield.

Dream Machines is a fundraiser for the Coastside Senior Center. You pay a modest fee to enter your car, plane, bike, or whatever, and get two tickets to the show. There is a deadline for entering your machine. The rub is -- our cars must be at the airport early on Sunday morning, otherwise we park in the parking lot with the 100,000 spectators.

After we drop our cars or bikes off, we can have brunch somewhere with that special someone and then return later for the show. She can check out the machines or the boutiques in HMB.

I live about 4 miles south of the airport and have parking on the street for anyone towing a trailer queen to the show. There is also a High Performance Driving Event at Sears Point (Infineon Raceway) that weekend (www.nasaproracing.com), and I will be there on Saturday, if anyone wants to test their car or get some driving instruction before they show it on Sunday. Lots of options!

Any interest out there? Please let me know: yeah, nay, or maybe.



Here are a few photos from previous Dream Machine shows.