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.