Thursday, April 01, 2010

From The Desk Of Gerie Bledsoe

APRIL 1, 2010


Without fanfare the route for the 2010 Pan Am has been posted on the official website. Here are the cities where the event will stop for the night along the way. The final city, Zacatecas, the end of the race, is no April Fool’s joke.

Tuxtla Gutierrez (depart October 22)
Zacatecas (the finish, October 28)

Yes, this means no overnight in the beast, Mexico City. Perhaps we will take the new bypass around this huge swamp. It’s well worth the $38 toll per vehicle.

Zacatecas is 426 miles from Nuevo Laredo, the traditional end of the race, which is a good day’s drive north.

Eng. Gael Rodriquez has been appointed to compile the route. Mr. Rodriquez played this role for many years before. Recently, he has been the co-piloto in the Telmex P1800 Volvo.


Competitors have until April 30 to pay the early entry fee of $6,000 USD. Those who have paid a deposit owe $5,500. Checks should be made out to “La Carrera USA.” The Carrera Office in Mexico City enforces this deadline religiously.

The entry fee covers the car, any number of drivers/navigators, service vehicle, one double room in a four or five star hotel from Oct. 21-Oct. 28, and other items, like two racing jackets, posters, and other souvenirs.

The only other mandatory cost is the Mexican rally license that was $260 USD (cash only) in Chihuahua. All personnel riding in the car (drivers and navigators) during competition (speed stage and transit stages) must have this license.

Eduardo Leon, the event organizer, reports that about half of the 100 slots are now taken. Remember, the US and Canada are limited to 30 slots by rule.


You may register on line at Go to the website and click on the US flag for English. Have all your information and digital photos ready to upload. You will need your blood type and Rh factor, plus digital photos of your pretty faces and your car. You will be asked if you need help brokering your car across the border. Select “no.” You will be asked if you have a FMAD rally license. Select “no,” and you will be offered a form to print out, complete, and send to FMAD. If you obtained your license in Chihuahua, bring it with you to Tuxtla.

You may also find the Pan Am entry form on, download it as a Word file, fill it out, and email it back to me as an attachment.

When you select either option you are agreeing to abide by the official rules of the event, as posted on the official website. You should review these, in particular, the information about any refunds of entry fees, hotel room payments, etc. The rules also say that all competitors, not the organization, are solely responsible for importing their racecars into Mexico. (More information about this process will be provided to competitors after they register.)


For another year it seemed that the Chihuahua Express was the perfect race across the plains and mountains of northern Mexico. The roads, weather, landscape, spectators, hotel, police security, and race organization seemed excellent. What could go wrong?

On the first day of competition, a co-piloto in a Renault Clio, Carlos Garcia (44), was killed when his driver lost control, smacked the side of the mountain once or twice, and spun off the road into a spectator’s parked car. The officials reported that the Clio was carrying too much speed down the hill, and the co-piloto was not properly belted into the car. Even the airbags were not able to save him from a fatal injury. The driver suffered only minor injuries.

If that was not enough, on the second day, after the long race up to the Copper Canyon and back was over, two cars in the Express “Tour” (the T/S/D rally) reportedly started racing back towards the hotel at speeds over 170 MPH. One car apparently brushed against the other and both tumbled off the road. Neither car was recognizable when the dust settled.

The driver and co-driver of the silver ‘99 Corvette died at the scene, while the driver and co-driver of the yellow Porsche GT2 were airlifted to the hospital. The Porsche’s driver was soon released, but the co-driver remains in serious condition.

Killed were Herberto García (driver) and Nanán Solana (co-driver) in the Corvette. Badly injured in the Porsche was co-driver Luis Angel de la Brena.

Nanán Solanda, who was in his mid-60s, was a well-known, well-liked racing personality in Mexico. He will be greatly missed. His brother, another famous Mexican racer, Moises Solana, who drove in the original Pan Am, was killed in a racing accident in 1969.

Luis Angel de la Brena, another well-known personality in Mexican auto sports, is the older guy who has inspected our helmets, driving suits, and other safety equipment at La Carrera in recent years. All were close friends of Chacho Medina and Eduardo Leon.

It should be emphasized that the Corvette and the Porsche were NOT participating in the top speed competition, the stage rally, nor did they have the safety equipment required of the competition cars. Their incident will be recorded simply as a tragic albeit senseless traffic accident.

Nanan Solana

Our most profound condolences go to the family and friends of the three who died, as well as the survivors, who must live with the memory.


Because of the tragedy, the third day of the Express was canceled. The final results were determined at the end of the second day, Saturday. The top ten overall were reported as:

Driver/co-driver….country….car….class… time for two days (800+ miles)

1. R. Gonzalez/R. Gonzalez, Mex, Maserati, 2.4-4.5 liter, 2:21:95*
2. D. Mockett/A.Fuentes, US/Mex, Oldsmobile, Pam Am, 2:24:24*
3. S.Meyers/M.Pimentel, Mex, Studebaker, Pan Am 2:25:46
4. E.Henkel/S.Puente, Mex, BMW M3, 2.4 to 4.5 liter, 2:29:33
5. Latre/E.Werner, Belg., ’65 Mustang, Historic C, 2:37:41*
6. P.Pena/V.Perez, Mex, VW Caribe, -2.4 liter, 2:38:09*
7. S.Waldman/F.Arguelles, US/Mex, Mitsu 9, 4.5 liter+turbo, 2:43:45*
8. B.Gett/B.Paltrow, US, Alfa Spider, Sports Menor, 2:45:25*
9. J.Stanglemaier/J.Huerta, Mex, Renault Clio, -2.4 l, 2:47:02
10. G.Bledsoe/F.Garcia, US/Mex, ’63 Chevy Nova, Historic C, 2:48:15

*Class winners.


Because the Pan Am is headed back to the city of Morelia this year, we can assume that the cars will run speed stages down the famous road known as Mil Cumbres (“a thousand peaks”). Someone once counted 330 curves from the top of this mountain road down to the end of the speed stages.

This well-banked road, not quite a highway, runs through a beautiful forest. The views are breathtaking. Slippery pine straw, seasonal streams across the road, roaming cattle, dead horses, and even felled trees have added excitement to these stages in past years. In a normal year, at least two cars engage in off-road excursions. The rule is: if you see a guard rail, slow down because it’s a long drop into the ravine on the other side.

Mil Cumbres was the scene of the only two fatalities in the Pan Am during a speed stage. In 1999, a Volvo from Guadalajara missed a turn and went over the side, when the driver was blinded by the early morning sun and/or red mist. He and his young female co-driver both perished.


To import vehicles and compete in La Carrera, the typical racer from the USA and Europe must have the following documents:

1. Passport

2. Driver’s license

3. Car title or registration slip (original)

4. Tow truck and trailer titles or registration slips (original)

(Remember: one foreigner may temporarily import only one vehicle. A truck and trailer goes on one import permit. The person importing the vehicle must be at the border.)

5. If any vehicle is financed, you will need written permission from the finance company to take it into Mexico.

6. If the vehicle is owned by a company, you must have a letter from the company – signed and sealed – allowing the driver to take it into Mexico, even if you, the driver, are the owner of the company.

7. Major credit card (in the name of the person importing the vehicles)

8. Application for race (via Internet to Mexico or to North American Coordinator) or

9. Application for Mexican rally license (send to Mexican racing federation with photos) (click on tramité for foreigner)

10. Mexican auto insurance (click on for you truck. Bring a copy of the “face” of the policy to pick up decals for the doors and route book.

11. Mexican FM-T (tourist visa) – obtain at the border or at airport when you arrive

Note: Competitors may pay for the Mexican racing license in Tuxtla, but unlike prior years, FMAD only accepts cash (no checks) for the $260 fee. The license purchased in Chihuahua will be good for the Pan Am.

Gerie Bledsoe Car #395
North American Coordinator

La Carrera Panamericana and Chihuahua Express
677 Highland Ave.
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
650-726-9890 (home office)
650-726-9599 (fax)
650-867-9488 (mobile)

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