Wednesday, September 02, 2009

From The Desk Of Gerie Bledsoe

Carrera News

SEPTEMBER 2, 2009 Labor Day Special



President Eduardo “Lalo” de Leon continues to project a starting grid of nearly one hundred cars for the 22d running of La Carrera Panamericana, despite the worldwide recession. However, he is still accepting selected entries.

North America (the USA and Canada) will contribute 40-42 cars to the starting grid. Two or three more guys say they are going to make it if their cars are ready. In most years, the North American contingent makes up about 50% of the grid. If this trend persists, the starting grid in 2009 could be less than ninety.

Bottom line? Entries are still being accepted at a slightly discounted rate. Now that the market has recovered, there is still time to check the Pan Am off your bucket list!

Need a car? Check below for Mustangs for rent or lease.


Bill Beilharz, the 2008 Carrera Champion, has been unable to find a sponsor for this year and will not be returning to defend his title. Pierre d’Thoisy will also not be returning, and rumors of his retirement from racing are circulating widely. Pierre competed in over 400 endurance races, including vintage Le Mans, and won the Pan Am several times, both as a piloto and co-piloto.

The pre-race favorite this year must be Gabriel Pérez Torres in his new Turismo Mayor Studebaker. Not only does he have the advantage of a new car and a recent victory in Chihuahua, but his co-piloto, Horacio Chousal, also compiles the route book for the Pan Am.

It’s difficult to bet against this combination of power, skill, experience, and inside knowledge. Yet there are several others capable of winning. My annual handicapper’s edition of CARRERA NEWS will be out soon.


By October 14 the forty or so Carrera cars from the U.S. and Canada will be heading towards Mexico. About half of these cars will convene in Laredo, Texas, on October 16 to form the Coyote Convoy for the trip down to Huatulco, the start of the Pan Am. The other half will be bumping along on large car haulers.

The Coyote Convoy is open to anyone with an interest in traveling down for the race, whether competitor, support crew, or spectator. A few seats in service vehicles are available, too, if you want to leave your Galardo at home.

The convoy will cross the border on October 17 and stop 540 miles down the road in San Miguel de Allende for two nights of R and R. The Carrera cars will be displayed in the main square in the main square of this beautiful colonial city to help raise funds for children’s charities on the 18th.

The caravan will then drive around Mexico City on a new toll road to stop for the night in the city of Oaxaca, October 19, in time to explore the city a little. It will arrive in Huatulco, our Pacific resort destination, on October 20.

If you are interested in traveling with the convoy, email me at for more information. It’s a great way to see Mexico and meet the guys (and a few neat gals) who make this race happen.


The Coyote Convoy is one of the ways that risk can be managed before and during La Carrera Panamericana. In addition to traveling together during the day and avoiding rough 'hoods at night, most of the rest is exercising common sense or “street smarts,” like staying out of “Boys Town” and dark cul de sacs.

Public security in Tuxtla Gutierrez last year was very high, as paramilitary forces with automatic weapons guarded the paddock area. Mexican state troopers, the Federales, along with local cops were stationed all along the race route. We expect the same level of protection this year.

The violence in Mexico is almost exclusively the result of the government’s attempt, at the behest of the U.S., to suppress the drug traffic across the border. This has sparked pitched battles between the Mexican police, army, and cartel gunman, but also to fighting among cartel lieutenants over control, after their bosses are killed and captured. In a few rare cases, the gunfire has killed innocent bystanders.

While there are no guarantees, the Carrera has been able to avoid any problems like these, simply because of its nature. It’s a quasi-organized horde of 300 racecars, support vehicles, police cars, and hangers-on moving quickly from one town to another, usually with a certain amount of fanfare. This is not a conducive situation for the criminal element, except perhaps a few pickpockets who might work the crowds when this colorful horde arrives in the next city.

Of concern this year is the return of swine flu. So far this form of the flu does not seem to pose a danger to healthy people, but certain precautions should be taken – like surgical masks and hand sanitizing jell in each racecar and support vehicle. If the flu returns with a vengeance in Mexico, we can also expect the government again to ban large crowds and public festivities, other than a race like LCP. Thus the competitors won’t be “wet” kissing many babes – of any age – this year.


Another way to travel smart in Mexico is to ride someone who knows her way around. Señora Rosa María Mondragón has seats in her car open for the Pan Am Tour.
Rosa María was the P.R. director for the event for years and has been a competitor, too. She charges $1350 for the Tour—the 1900 miles and seven days of the race. Her services are especially recommended for photographers and others who want to get close to the action. Contact her at She will also meet you in San Miguel de Allende if you are traveling with the Coyote Convoy.

The alternative is leaving your wife home for two weeks with the club’s pro and all your credit cards.


Carreraistas in the Northwest will gather on Sunday, September 27 at 3:00 PM to celebrate the race. The site is an Irish pub (!) near SEATAC, which specializes in green tacos. The organizer of the event is Carrera veteran and blogger Marcia Blas. For more info, email her at The group will also watch GT Race at 5:00 PM that evening (see below).


The Discovery Channel has a new series called “GT Racer.” The series will start on September 4 and features historic racing venues, like Le Mans. On September 25, at 8 PM, the series will focus on La Carrera Panamericana and one of the cars and crew in the 2008 race.

If you live in or near the Rockies, you may also watch the awesome run by Carrera cars up Pikes Peak back on July 19 on Altitude TV this month. Altitude TV – as the name suggests – is seen primarily in the Rockies, plus Kansas, Nebraska and parts of Nevada. It's available on Comcast cable and Dish TV in this region. Good vids are also available on YouTube.

Sept 6 at 1:00pmMT
Sept 6 at 8:00pmMT
Sept 7 at 5:00pmMT
Sept 11 at 12:00pmMT
Sept 13 at 6:00pmMT


A professional quality DVD on the 2007 Pan Am is available in “Rebirth of a Legend: The Story of La Carrera Panamericana.” The disc has some great historical footage of the original race, but primarily tells the story of Gary Faules adventures in the race in 2007 in his Mustang “Lucky.” To view a teaser and order a copy for $29.95 go to:

Unlike so many videos of this race, this one has a happy, Hollywood ending when Gary finishes in the top ten overall and on the podium in Historic C—no mean feat for a “rookie.” It also explains how the race really works and the importance of the relationship between the driver and navigator.

Perhaps because the producer-writer-editor was the navigator and a racecar driver, you are made to understand and fully appreciate the fundamental role of the navigator in a rally car.

The DVD offers extensive footage of the Mustang and other cars racing down the mountains, and a lengthy tribute to Will Faules, Gary’s son and Carrera crew of one.

A few pithy comments by the somewhat garrulous but always officious North American Coordinator managed to avoid ending up on the cutting rooms floor, too. (Thanks for the soft light and fuzzy resolution, Mr. Director.)


Todd Landon has a hot Mustang GT fastback available to rent or lease for the race. Last year, one of Todd’s cars, driven by Richard Tyzack, finished 1st in class and 6th overall. In 2007 that car was 2d in class and 4th overall.

Todd can deliver the car in Ft. Worth, Texas, or even at the start of the race for someone who wants to “arrive and drive” -- at a very reasonable cost.

Email Todd at or call him at 952-250-7948.


Guadalupe “Lupita” Hernandez Ramirez, a Mexican Red Cross nurse, lost both legs at the hip in 2003 when a Pan Am car hit a puddle of oil, spun off the road, and pinned Lupita to a Red Cross ambulance.

Since then North American and Canadian competitors, with the support a Mexican racing club, have vowed to support her. Currently, her trust fund, monitored by Doug Mockett and Oscar Carillo, produces less than $50 in interest every eight weeks. We need to increase the balance. Please send your contributions to:

Friends of Guadalupe Hernandez Ramirez
c/o Ms. Fanny Davila
South Bay Bank
2200 Sepulveda Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90501


The next Silver State Classic from Ely to Las Vegas is scheduled for September 17-20, 2009. For more information go to The organizers of the Silver State are Carrera competitor Steve Waldman and his bride, Gail. The Silver State is also linked to the Chihuahua Express.


Can’t get it together for the Pan Am this year? Need to sample a little of Mexico before taking the Carrera plunge? Try the Chihuahua Express, March 19-21, 2010.

As the name suggests, this is the quick and easy way to test your car and learn how to stage rally without devoting three weeks of your life and mucho dinero to an expediton into the Mexican jungle.

The Express packs 1000 miles of driving, including around 325 miles of top speed racing, into three days. And we are only 145 miles west of Texas. Importantly, the racers return to the same bunk each night. How cool is that!

Contact organizer Chacho Medina if interested at or The Express is also part of the Silver State Classic’s International Series.


’93 Camaro Z-28 for sale. $4900. Slate gray. This is a road course track car--built for NASA’s Camaro-Mustang Challenge. It has a stock LT1 injected engine (de-smogged), upgraded suspension, and brakes. Full roll cage and two competition seats, with current belts.

In 2007 this car finished 6th overall in the Chihuahua Express. It’s a great car for a beginner. Recently serviced. Contact


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)
Car #395, 11th Year

To call the Carrera Office in Mexico City dial 1-310-860-6959. That is a Vonage number via Santa Monica, California.

To make hotel reservations for the Carrera, Oct. 20-29, contact Monica Grossman at

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