Sunday, September 27, 2009

"A Cadillac, A Cigar, And A Ticket To The Bullfights"

Any La Carrista should read this...

Anyone who has taken part in La Carrera Panamericana has a basic understanding of how the great race came to be but I recently found an article which was printed in an old printing of Harper's Magazine. After reading this article I have come away with a refreshing new respect and outlook for the history of the race. It's was also interesting to note the original race started on Cinco de Mayo and I couldn't help but wonder... even as special as this race is, can you just imagine doing it during Cinco de Mayo. Just imagine what it would be like, doing 150 miles per hour through downtown Mexico City on Cinco de Mayo not to mention the welcome and celebration at each village and city on such a holiday. All I can say is Holy S... well you get the idea. Also, I didn't realize that the United States had so much to do with getting the Pan-American Highway built.

While this article starts off just a tad slow, out of respect for the race, do your self a big favor and read it in it's entirety. Great stuff!

In 1826, after throwing off generations of Spanish rule throughout the South American continent, Simon Bolivar, El Gran Libertador, called a conference. Convinced that he had not heard the last from the Spanish viceroys, Bolivar wanted to hash out what sort of union the nations of the Americas might construe in order to withstand the colonizer's return. The conference, however, failed to come off as planned. One U.S. delegate died en route, and the other arrived as the round. tables were adjourning. Bolivar died in 1830, and for the next fifty-nine years, war foiled attempts to reschedule. Finally, in 1889, the United States hosted what is now considered to be the first Pan-American Conference. No longer preoccupied with the return of the Spanish conquistadors, the delegates dedicated themselves to such business as the standardization of weights and measures and the sanitation of ships. It was also suggested that an enormous rail system be constructed, linking the represented countries and facilitating the free exchange of goods and services with which all felt the future of the hemisphere lay.

The plan stalled until the fifth Pan-American Conference, at which the delegates agreed to a modification: instead of railroads, they would build a highway.

Thus was convened, on October 5, 1925, in Buenos Aires, the first Pan-American Highway Congress. Construction began shortly thereafter, and throughout the mid-century, tar-speckled road crews could be found paving their way across the American continents, followed closely by the ribbon cuttings of politicians eager to associate themselves with the forward march of progress.

The first Latin American country to complete its section of the great artery was Mexico. Despite having only recently recovered from the chaotic frenzy of a ten-year revolution that claimed more than a million lives, collapsed the banking and monetary system, decimated the universities, laid the axe to farms and stockyards, and produced a new order as confusing and tenuous as the old had been oppressive and reliable, Mexico immediately sent out the steamrollers and cement mixers. The project spanned seventeen years. Its completion, in 1950, gave the nation her first cross-country highway.

The president of Mexico at this time was Miguel Aleman, a lawyer, businessman, and real estate developer who once declared it his ambition that all Mexicans have "a Cadillac, a cigar, and a ticket to the bullfights." Having spent his youth in a country torn to flinderation by lofty ideals, he was now eager to set her marching steadily toward modernization down the newly completed highway. The boostering of tourism! The flourishing of trade! No simple ribbon cutting would suffice to advertise an accomplishment so profound. It required a road race.

The course would begin in Ciudad Juarez and head south to the Guatemalan border, over the deserts, up the mountains, into the jungles, and across the rivers, demonstrating for the international crowd what great strides the president had taken in modernizing the country's infrastructure. Entries were restricted to five-passenger hardtop stock cars, piloted by a driver and a navigator. The winner's purse was set at 150,000 pesos, and on Cinco de Mayo, 1950, beneath a blazing sun, 126 vehicles representing at least ten countries roared off the starting line at one-minute intervals onto a brand new ribbon of road closed to all other traffic and guarded by soldiers authorized to shoot on sight any stray farm animal caught wandering the shoulder.

Within the fanfare, a few discordant notes could be heard. An editorial published two months before the race in the newspaper El Monitor argued that a modern road connecting Mexico to the "Colossus of the North" would lay her open to a "methodical and total occupation" by U.S. forces. The completion of the highway had "introduced into the country a Trojan Horse of enormous proportions which harbors within the power of the United States of America.... In building the highway, Mexico has taken one more step toward her own destruction."

There turned out to be some truth to this dark forecast. The road brought with it the race, and during the five years of its initial run, the Carrera Panamericana was one of the most destructive road races ever. Every year someone died; most years it was a handful. Footage of the event shows cars crashing through small Mexican towns like pinballs. By 1954, "the death race" had claimed so many lives and damaged so much property that Aleman's successor, Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, could see no good reason why it should continue. Everyone knew by then that Mexico had a new highway. Much to the dismay of the world's speed-hogs, Cortines shut down the Carrera.

The roads stayed clear for thirty-four years.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ford Helps Open Their Eyes

Anyone that knows me will tell you there is no doubt that I am a die-hard Ford fanatic. But what many do not know is that there was a time in my life when I was totally blind and even then Fords played a huge roll in my life.

During my "dark" years I was fortunate that my friends didn't treat me as handicapped or different and that was probably the single biggest concern I had during that time. People who have disabilities don't see themselves as disabled... We see ourselves as able to overcome adversity that others haven't been challenged with yet and the very last thing we want is to think someone feels sorry for us.

During those dark days (over four years worth) I had a lot of fun with my buddies. On several occasions they would take me out in a 64 Mustang and let me drive while they served as my eyes and told me when to give it gas, turn, and brake. One of those times that stands out the most in my memory was the night they told me to brake quickly as I was driving down main street in my small hometown when a state policeman pulled us over to tell us we had a taillight out. I have no idea how we managed to pull that off. Ironically it was probably the look of fear in my eyes that led the officer to believe he had done his job as he told us to get it fixed and drive careful before getting back into his criuser and leaving us sitting there. Can you imagine the look on his face had he asked me for a driver's license after I told him I didnt need one because I was blind. Well, if he had he wouldnt have had to take me very far becaause we were parked right in front of the local city jail.

In my case, I was blessed with the rare opportunity of regaining my vision thru a miraculous event that forever changed my life. It's impossible for me to put into words the emotional roller coaster ride I took today as I watched the three following videos that I want to share with you. Please click on the following link and watch these three short videos and be sure and watch how Ford made these people living in darkness enjoy life like nobody else ever could.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Can Never Start Too Young For LCP

If there's one thing I have learned about racing it is that you can never get started too young or too early with regards to getting the car set up and ready before race day. It never fails that something pops up only hours before it's time to put the car in the trailer. And anyone who has raced for any length of time will more than likely confess to putting off today what they can do tomorrow after looking at the calender and seeing they still have several weeks before the next race. And before you know what hits you... The day is here!

With less than 28 days left before the start of this years La Carrera Panamericana and much less for those who will be hooking up with the Coyote Convoy, I wonder who's ready and who's under the gun trying to make it all happen? Good luck to everyone and be smart and safe and one last bit of advice... My mother always told me that if I take an umbrella it more than likely wont rain. The same can be said for extra parts. If you take it you wont need it. If you don't... well you're on you own.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Great Hot Air Story About A LCP Car Called The Snail

Encyclopedia; Don Piccard
Don Piccard is a Swiss-American balloonist.

He is the son of Jeannette Ridlon Piccard who set a record when she flew to the edge of space. He served as a balloon and airship rigger in the U. S. Navy during World War II.

He was one of the driving forces behind the hot-air ballooning revival after the war while a student at the University of Minnesota. He made the first , formed the Balloon Federation of America, today the national organization for ballooning. Washington Avenue Bridge at night The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system.

He pioneered plastic and Mylar balloon. He also promoted ballooning as a sport and designed balloons to that end.

In 2003 Don Piccard wrote, "In the course of my annual retina exam, my doctor said I would be safe to drive in the Carrera. So to test his sincerity, I enquired if he would ride as navigator. He said yes and here we are."

Then he began preparing a car which became known as "The Snail" and in 1966, British Motors Corporation, through the courtesy of the late Ken Revis, presented Don with a Morris Minor 1000 Traveler Special. It included some special features such as an MG engine, real wood panels, an Austin Princess battery container (regular Morris’s always leak acid on the driver’s shoes), custom seating, belts, mirrors, special wheels and tires, etc.

Because this wonderful “Dream Car” was so special, Eduardo Leon extended a special exception and invitation for this car to be the first station wagon or truck to be permitted entry in the great Mexican road race, La Carrera Panamericana.

On the first day it finished third place in class beating Jags and Porsche's. On the second day everything was great until they hit some topes too hard which resulted in tearing off the sway bar and a putting a hole in the oil pan. After the pan was replaced there was an engine noise so the team was forced to retire after two days of racing. Later on they determined the cause of the noise was a few burnt up pistons allegedly caused by the carburetors being too lean during break in.

Amazingly this car finished 63rd out of 76 cars an even beat some Historic C class cars including cars like Mustang of Peyton Feltus/Todd Landen. It just goes to prove that sometimes even a snail can bet his opponents.

Later on the car found a new home after being sold on Ebay. If anyone has any more information about the whereabouts of this car please let us know.

Check out the size of those Buell air horns on the front fenders! They may have needed a V-8 to have enough horsepower to push them along.

Here is what the author wrote... "If you are concerned about livestock on the highway, look at: BUELL AIR HORNS and you’ll see and hear (fair warning) how we plan to clear the road. We have had the Buell family as friends for over fifty years, using their “Commanding Attention” hailers as safety systems on some of our more exotic ascensions.

Click here for complete website although a lot is missing.

After posting the above blog and during some of my research I found the following story posted on Inter Marque Monthly

Don Piccard bought his first Morris Minor in 1955. He was selling cars in Texas and figured its powerto-weight ratio wasn’t too far off his ‘55 Chev Del-Ray. Don worked corners for the SCCA and said the Minors could shut down a lot of bigger cars. On the right course. Don was also into ballooning. His mother, Jeannette Ridlon Piccard, set the women’s world altitude record in 1934. Don often flew with her, also loved balloons and stood by them as they fell from favor in the post-WWII era. He set several altitude records himself and founded the Balloon Club of America. He also pursued technical innovations and, in 1962, organized the first hot air balloon event. It was held as part of St. Paul’s Winter Carnival.

Of course he needed a car to haul his balloon to events and races. So in 1966, he ordered a special Minor: a Traveller (station wagon) with the new 1275 cc engine and dual SU’s. Minors never had this engine as stock; the biggest mill they were permitted was the somewhat fragile and somewhat anemic 1098. With the 1275 and a small trailer, Don travelled (note cheap pun) to events all over the country. For instance, he won the first Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, today’s biggest hot air balloon event.

Flash forward to 2002. Don still owns the Traveller. On a trip to Mexico (not in the Morris) he visits the Carrera Panamerica, something he remembers from his Texas days. He decides it looks like fun and decides it’s time for the Morris to make the run. Some potential problems arose. Some people thought Don is too old (77) for an event like this. Don does not. In fact, there is no record of Don even considering his age as an issue. Another potential problem is his vehicle. It is, after all, a station wagon and some sporty car weenies might object to its participation. Don talked to the event authorities. They thought it’s probably OK, but tell him he needs to bring documentation that the vehicle actually did leave the factory with a 1275 engine.

Back in the Cities, Don considered another potential problem, that he’d wreck the car. It became clear that this was not some unlikely possibility that would occur on a deserted Mexican highway. It was a one hundred percent certainty that would happen in the garage as the Morris was altered to meet race requirements. In particular, installation of a full roll cage would mean trashing the car’s stock interior. And no telling what all the decals would do to the patina of its paint job. Plan 2 began to take shape. First, a decrepit Traveller was located and hauled to Brian McCullough’s shop in Stacy. Brian and Don began work, gutting the interior and repairing the rust holes. A full roll cage was installed along with decidedly non-stock race seats, five-point harnesses, a fuel cell, and a large air tank for the semi horns. (About the horns: Don feels he may need something to move cows and spectators out of the way. These should do the trick, even if the cows are in the next county.) The Morris arrived with the normal 1100 engine so a 1275 was needed. A quick scan around Brian’s shop turned up a 1962 MG Midget whose restoration/modification had been put on hold while its owner started a new business. After a conversation with the Midget’s owner, the Morris had an engine and the team had a sponsor, Phil Vanner’s Square Peg Diner. A lot of work had already been done, and money spent, on the Midget mill so not much more was necessary.

In the meantime, Don located a navigator, Triumph TR3 driver Ed Ryan. Ed had never participated in an event like this so he spent fall weekends at the Healey Hillclimb and the Escape to Wisconsin Rally. The team should be underway soon, towing the Morris to Texas.

This year’s race takes place from October 24 to 30. Each of the seven days consists of “transit” and “special” stages. The “transit” stages are run on regular roads with normal traffic. The “special” stages are three to sixteen miles in length and are run at speed. The Mexican Highway Patrol clears the roads (often in the mountains) and competitors take off at thirty second intervals. At the end of the week, the winner is the car with the lowest elapsed time for the special stages. Entries are limited to thirty from Mexico, forty from the U.S. and Canada, and forty from Europe and the rest of the world. Competitors in the Morris’ class (historica A) consist of such fare as Mini-Coopers, Porsche 912s, Volvo 1800s, and other sub-two liter vehicles.

The race organizers note that the following Spanish words and phrases might be useful to participants:

REFACCIONARIA: Spare parts shop
TALLER: Mechanic workshop
CURVA PELIGROSA: Dangerous curve
GRAVA SUELTA: Loose gravel

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Skeet Shooting, Dual Carbs & La Carrera Panamericana

Some times when I'm researching information about something specifically related to La Carrera Panamericana I find the most interesting facts. This is just such an example considering I was an Olympic Skeet shooter for so many years.

In this case I was searching for information regarding a Bohnalite hemi dual quad 1953 intake manifold which someone had posted questions about on another site. I became interested when he wrote, "This intake one of only a handfull made was intended to run in the La Carrera Panamericanna Race in 1954!"

At any rate here is what I came up with and interestingly enough it was built for the Shaw of Persia to run in La Carerra Panamericana.

The 1953 Chrysler New Yorker Club Coupe in front of you is a very special car.

It is the very first two four barrel equipped hemi engine powered race car built by Chrysler Corporation. It is based on one of the fifteen cars originally intended for the Carrera Panamericana (Mexican Road Race) however this car was further special ordered by a Shah (believed to be the Shah of Persia who had a penchant for Chrysler products) above and beyond the specifications of the "Pan Am New Yorkers". Included in the '999' Special Engineering code request for this late '53 production car was the first dual quad intake system using the first available 1954 WCFB Carter carburetors on an experimental aluminum intake manifold cast by Bohnalite, a prototype producer for Detroit.

This intake was on the Pan Am solid lifter high lift cam motor. Also this car received the following Imperial limousine heaviest duty passenger car parts: 4 wheel Ausco-Lambert disc brakes, vented wheels and wheel caps, large bearing hubs and rear axle with high speed differential and also limo shock absorbers. A heavy duty front sway was created for the car. The late '53 Powerflite 2-speed automatic was employed for its ruggedness and for homologation for the Road Race. 6-ply blackwalls tires were the best off road racing tires available in the day. The car was ordered radio and heater delete without power steering or brakes; a strict race car.

The Shah learned that race rules would not allow the experimental prototype induction system and refused delivery of the car from Chrysler. Rollie Barrett Chrysler Plymouth in Detroit took the car for showroom floor promotional use. After several months, the next door neighbor of Mr. Barrett, Chesley J. Crites, made an offer over breakfast that purchased the car. He had a radio and windshield washer installed prior to delivery. Mr. Crites was a Detroit industrialist serving the auto industry and also the World Skeet Shooting Champion in 1958 and was on 12 All American skeet teams. This car was his "toy".

In 1958 the car was put in the family barn with 32,508 miles on it. In 1984 Mr. Crites with his brother's help he took the car around the block one last time. The car was placed in a rental storage unit that same year. Following Mr. Crites passing in June of 1994, Judith Crites, the widow maintained the rental storage until June 3, 2006 when the car was purchased and taken to Texas.

This car is named "ADAM" because this is where the Chrysler Hemi racing program all began. A couple of independents were racing Hemi without any help from the factory but with this order Chrysler realized they could build a full-on high performance street Hemi race car that would out run anything anyone else could build. The ties to the Chrysler 300 Letter Car series with their dual quad Hemi and Imperial components (some optional) are obvious and the HEMI name lives on to this day in innumerable racing genres. There are few multi-decade racing legends that are comparable to that of the Chrysler Hemi. The first series of Chrysler Hemi engines, introduced in 1951, were named "Firepower".

Having been a very active Olympic skeet shooter as well as American skeet shooter I am very familier with Chesley J. Crites since he was also president of the National Skeet Shooting Association and held numerous records at the national level. I have met and knew him very well prior to his passing in 1994 and he was one of the nicer gentlemen I had the privilege of knowing. As you can imagine, he had a lot of great stories to share and adventures but one of my favorite stories about him was well documented and took place in December 1956 and is quite humerous in deed.

With the same superb marks-manship which he used to become national 28-gauge skeet champion, Chesley J. Crites of Detroit week smashed the most expensive pigeon of his gunning career—his own four-place Piper Clipper airplane.

While deer-hunting in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Crites, who is also president of the National Skeet Shooting Association, tied down at Blaney Park airstrip. When he returned to take off for home, his plane's starter failed. With the engine at partial throttle, Crites spun the prop by hand until it caught. But as he dashed for the cabin, he was forced to hit the dirt—the plane, lurching forward, broke its moorings and began ground-looping crazily around the field. Crites accurately plunked eight rounds into the runaway's crankcase with a borrowed Remington .30-06. The fusillade stopped the plane, but it also set it afire. Result: a total loss.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rare La Carrera Panamericana Photos

Recently it was my pleasure to become Internet friends with Mary Ellen, who not only loves Shelbys as much as I do but also has some amazing photos taken during the 1954 La Carrera Panamericana. These original slides were shot by her mother, Ina Mae Overman, and her uncle, Stanley Dean Miller. They weren't involved with any of the participants however they did take some awesome photos of the race.

Enjoy this first edition of rare slides and a very special thanks to Mary Ellen and to the Overman Family collection by Ina Mae Overman for sharing them.


They were well prepared for the adventure in that Stanley Dean Miller used Ina Mae Overmanhad's beautiful little 53 Ford pickup all set up complete with logos on it which inadvertently helped them deal with logistics not at all like the service teams of today. After their return from Mexico Stanley purchased the Pick up.

A.K. Miller's famed hot rod El Caballo de Hierro or The Iron Horse.

Phil Hill and Richie Gunther, in his factory preppared Ferrari

#16 Jaguar XK120 driven by Oscar Fano Bush and Barajas

Driven by Keith Andrews and Blu Plemons the #127 was a privately funded 1954 Cadillac Series 62 coupe that challenged the factory-backed teams, beating all of them on the final two stages.

#117 Lincoln Capri driven by Tony De Rosa and Bustos

#110 Cadillac Series 62 driven by Stringer and Wood

#238 Studebaker Commander driven by Scott F.Yantis

#212 Ford driven by Dan Morgan and Valchucks

Based on these next few slides this was a pretty challenging corner for the big cars of the day and it's a good thing there was lots of run off room.

#123 Lincoln Capri driven by Luis Rafael Garzon and Luis Alfonso Murcia

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Northwest LCP Get Together Planed

The NW Contingent La Carrera Panamericana

Please join us at Mick Kelly’s Full Throttle Pub in Renton to enjoy an afternoon of bench racing and viewing the GT Racer episode IV – 2008 La Carrera Panamericana
produced by Alexander Davidis.

Date: Sunday - September 27, 2009
A Time: 3pm
Showtime: 5pm
CH time: TBD…,
Appetizers: 3pm to 5pm.

Location: Mick Kelly’s Full Throttle Pub
Address: 3701 East Valley Road
Renton, WA 98055

La Carrera veterans will be on hand. A table with La Carrera memorabilia will be set up and voting ballots will be available to designate your ‘most favorite race car’ and the ‘team most likely to succeed’ in La Carrera Panamericana. Fun prizes will be awarded to the winners. Mick Kelly’s Irish Pub at Full Throttle has two large screens that will be showing the GT Racer documentary. In the interim, other racing videos and an extensive photographic collection of La Carrera 2007 and 2008 race cars will be part of the venue. This restaurant’s balcony looks out over Bob Lamphere’s Renton Motorcycles showroom floor. From the inner sanctuary, as you sit on authent c Harley bike seats, you can view the motorcycle shop and all its accoutrements. In the expansive parking lot you will find the La Carrera race cars along with a new 40,000 sq ft building which houses the Renton Harley Davidson dealership!

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon? As the afternoon turns to evening, the
restaurant has an extensive menu available should you wish to order dinner.
Hope to see you there!

Please send RSVP’s with the number of attendees to

For reminders and last minute updates, refer to\

Thursday, September 10, 2009


As I watched this video I couldn't help but see a resemblance with La Carrera Panamericana. As a matter of fact it you didn't know the difference you might just think it was La Carerra Panamericana. With the old cars, police escorts, hundreds of thousands of spectators, breathtaking scenery, beautiful architecture, the only thing missing was SPEED but it's quite an amazing event none the less.

Not to be confused with Rally 1000 Miglia, the Mille Miglia (Thousand Miles) was an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957 (thirteen before the war, eleven from 1947). Like the older Targa Florio and later the Carrera Panamericana, the MM made Gran Turismo (Grand Touring) sports cars like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati and Porsche famous.

The race was banned after the fatal crash of a 4.2-lire Ferrari in 1957 that took the lives of the Spanish driver Alfonso, Marquis of Portago, his co-driver/navigator Edmund Nelson, and thirteen spectators. The crash was probably caused by a blown tire. The manufacturer was blamed and sued for this, as was the Ferrari team, which, in order to save time, had not changed tires. From 1958 to 1961, the event resumed as a Rallying-like round trip at legal speeds with a few special stages driven at full speed, but this was discontinued also. Since 1977, the name was revived as the Mille Miglia Storica, a parade for pre-1957 cars that takes several days, which also spawned the 2007 documentary film Mille Miglia - The Spirit of a Legend.

As you can see LCP and MM have a lot in common but to a true racer we all know LCP has found it's true place in history as the TRUE spirit of a legend. If someone told me they saw Edwardo Leon on a plane headed to Italy I would begin to get very excited.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

One Man's Loss... Another's Gain

And I mean this with the utmost respect but sometimes one man's destiny can have either an adverse or a positive effect on another man's destiny. So with that in mind read along as I explain myself....

Without a doubt the most exciting recollections I have of the entire 2007 La Carerra Panamericana was the day Jon and I won what is and always has been the undisputed most dangerous stage of the entire race... Mil Cumbres. Not only did we win that stage but even after being told by veterans that because it was so challenging and dangerous we should not expect to pass any cars unless they crashed. But not only did we dominate that stage of the race but in fact we passed two very fast cars.

It was while coming into a very fast corner that Lucky's tail end swung out as far as it could go and removed one of those white cement bumpers that line much of Mexico's highways. To our left was a cliff with no guard rail and thousands of feet down and to our right was a solid rock wall. Due to the angle we were sliding and the speed it was obvious that if I lifted we would have most certainly bounced off the rock wall and gone over the cliff.

Lucky's Mil Cumbre battle scar worn with honor

Jon hung on and I stepped on the loud pedal as hard as I could. A soon as the tail end began to come back to me we heard the WHAM as Lucky's right rear quarter slammed the cement marker but in a split second the horsepower really paid off as the car straightened out. Without skipping a beat Jon says, "Nice save. Ok, Right 1." I'm here to tell you THAT was exciting!

As if it were only yesterday I remember every detail of that adrenaline rush stage and all that took place. With that in mind you can only imagine how excited I was tonight when I stumbled upon a friend's site which I have never before, seen only to find a photo he had taken of Jon and I in Lucky passing a Studebaker from a much faster class right in the middle of Mil Cumbre! What a treasure this is for us and had it not been for Terry's misfortune more than likely they would not have had time to shoot this awesome shot. HOW DAMN COOL IS THAT!!!

CLICK HERE and enjoy a fantastic site about Terry Sayther's #401 BMW that has to be the most beautiful car that I have personally seen running in LCP. WARNING... There is a LOT to see and read including some great photos and videos about Terry's adventures during three years of LCP in this car but sadly it suffered a terrible crash during 2007. I was so focused and busy with the entire race and even though I was around this car both before and after it's wreck I never knew one of my friends, Bill Arnold, was the co-piloto until I returned back to California. The sad remains were parked next to us at a service stop that evening and once again served those skeptics with a reminder by proving LCP is indeed a race and NOT just another rally.



Navigating LCP Difficult? Oh Hell No... Nothing To It.

Everything that you ever wanted to know and more and it's ALL RIGHT HERE

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

You Know What They Say About Old Soilders...

When General Douglas MacArthur made his famous quote, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away." he very easily could have been talking about old race cars as well. Not all race cars are fortunate enough to withstand the beating or consequences dealt them while racing long enough to think about retirement but for those few lucky enough to endure nothing can make me happier than to see them in some sort of arena for others to enjoy.

One such arena is none other than the NATIONAL AUTOMOTIVE AND TRUCK MUSEUM OF THE UNITED STATES (NATMUS) which is located in Auburn Indiana. NATMUS is a non-profit museum with emphasis on post World War II cars and trucks but with vehicles on display from 1908 “high wheelers” to current production pick ups. Also you will find inside the doors of NATMUS a Model Car / Truck & Toy Museum (NATMATMUS).

Currently on display they have three wonderful cars that have competed in La Carrera Panamericana. There site says, "The three original La Carrera vehicles on display are believed to be the most currently on display in a single place in America." They may be right since the big display at Petersons Museum was only there for a short time.

Car #120, a 1954 Mercury Monterey, driven by Piloto Peter Frank and Co-Piloto Mark Williams ran three different LCP races (91, 91, 97) and won overall in 1992. It's interesting to point out Mark Williams is one of the most sought after co-drivers in North America. CLICK HERE FOR RESUME.
Built to compete in Turismo Mayor Class, beneath the stock bodywork you will find everything found in a NASCAR Nextel Cup car. During it's last race in 1997 the blueprinted 351 blew up during the race and was replaced with a 302 in a parking lot to finich the race. This car was donated to NATMUS by owner Dr Peter Frank of Bluffton, SC.

Seen here with 1992 overall trophy.

Car #313, a 1954 Ford, driven by Piloto Argentine team mate Americo Guzzini and Co-Piloto Bernardo Guzzini finished 77th overall in the 1954 LCP. Some interesting trivia was that because Argentineans led the roster with 74 cars compared to 47 Mexicans, 39 Americans, 9 Italians and 4 Germans. The number of Argentines was so high because President Juan Peron granted a special permit which exempted participants from paying standard import duties, so it was possible to import a large American car at a much lower cost if it had taken part in La Carrera Panamericana. Coincidentally the name PERON was painted on all of the Argentine cars to pay tribute to Eva Peron, the wife of the Argentine dictator who had recently died. According to the original mileage on the odometer, this car only ran the LCP race and that was it. This care was set up bi the famous Ford guru Bill Stroppe himself and is owned by Howard Singer of La Jolla California.

Car #107, a 1954 Lincoln Capri was driven by piloto Court Whitlock and Co-Piloto Charlie Weber. This car has had some customizing work done such as rear quarters extended 6 inches with 55 Packard taillights, Frenched antenna, 55 Olds headlight rims, moulded Continental kit, Frenched lake pipes, scooped quarters, recontoured fenders and quarters, 53 Lincoln bumpers which are narrowed 6 inches and then the car was lowered 6 inches. (Don't ask me why.) This car is owned by Rob and Deb Butler of Fort Wayne IN.

A special thanks to Don Grogg at NATMUS for taking the time to take these awesome photos and sending them to me and thank you to NATMUS and other orginizations as well as those who donate their cars so that they will be around for many future generations to enjoy.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I Don't Have A Damn Clue What Their Saying But It's A Great LCP Video

What's great about a video of the 2008 LCP like this one is that it just goes to show that during an international race like La Carrera Panamericana you don't have to speak the same language to understand what a great time everyone is having.


Another Nice Review

Thanks to the guys over at for this great review of La Carrera Panamericana - Rebirth of a Legend

A LCP Must Read

I don't know how I have missed this article but none the less I'm sure glad I found it. Anyone who is considering the LCP or who has been involved with LCP will most certainly enjoy this very well written story and it's photos. It chroniclizes the events leading up to and during the 2005 La Carrera Panamericana and all that happened as Chris Reichardt drove his 1954 Lincoln with Keith Ball as Co-Piloto.

It's three pages long but very well written and well worth the time. Truth is, I sure wish more teams would take the time to sit back and immortalize what has to be some of the most exciting racing stories imaginable.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Let's Keep Rick In Our Thoughts

Richard Row and Ernie Harris ran the #377 Chevy in the 2007 La Carrera Panamericana and they are both always a pleasure to be around bith on and off the track. Since I got to visit with Richard at the recent La Carrera Panamericana gathering at Tarpys you can understand my surprise when I read this recent post in thier North Bay Bavarian Blog

The day after the the trip to Monterey, Rick woke up not feeling good with a bad headache. As the week progressed it didn't get better, and on Friday his wife Claudia took him to the Emergency Room, where it was determined that he might have a brain aneurysm.

They went on to say he looks to be doing fine now but it wont hurt at all if we all keep him in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A VERY Exciting Picture

The main staging area for the 2007 La Carrera Panamericana was behind the Eduardo Vasconcelos Stadium in Oaxaca opened in 1950 and was named after Eduardo Vasconcelos, who was Governor of Oaxaca from 1947 to 1950. This was the meeting place for anyone who competed. It was a very exciting place for many of us especially us first timers and it was here that for the first time it really began to sink in that something big was about to happen. This is where we began to notice some of the cars and drivers we had been reading about for the last two years and a place were we would make new friends that will last a lifetime.

This is a very special never before seen slide taken right in front of the Oaxaca stadium at the start finish line during the 1954 LCP. Thank you to the estate of the late Frank C Ruppert brother of our good friend Frank J Ruppert. Anyone who was there in 2007 will really enjoy this simply because at the time we were there. It's hard to believe but it was MILES to the nearest empty lot and business's filled the streets as far as you could see. Obviously long before this photo was taken as there is NOTHING around the stadium them. If you look closly to the left of the soilder you can see one of the Lincoln team members wearing their blue team jacket.


Here it is today.

This was home for a couple days where we could park our rigs and begin any unfinished prep work and so on. We were required to take a brief physical or sorts and basically if you could get a helmet on your head you passed.

This was where we gathered to get in line to get all the required goodies including registration papers, license, LCP jackets, hats and T-shirts and so on and I was the first person in line which I found out later really reaped it's rewards. Afterwards you could get in line to get your car scrutinized by the tech inspectors and this is where teams really learned the importance of getting their early and being prepared. This line for some lasted two whole days and in several cases some teams had to return more than once with corrections or changes to their cars to meet tech requirements as well as helmets and racing suits.

This also the place you finally get to see the route book for the very first time.

Cars lined up for tech inspection for two days.

After your car met the approval of strict tech inspection you were sent to have the required decals installed by an entire team of guys who really knew what they were doing and did an awesome job.

One thing I enjoyed was all the colorful graffiti that was on the walls. I was told that they welcome it and I was glad they did.

Here is the start line in Oaxaca in 2007

Here is the start line in Oaxaca in 1953