Sunday, June 06, 2010

Carrera News

Carrera News
June 6, 2010


Our favorite nurse in Mexico, Lupita Hernandez, needs your help! Lupita lost both of her legs at the hip when a Pan Am racecar crashed into an Red Cross ambulance near Tuxtla Gutierrez back in 2003.

The “Friends of Lupita” are offering a brand new, never been worn, 2009 Carrera driver’s coat and official hat for auction. The coat is dark blue, quilted, with the appropriate Pan Am patches – made by State of Art, a trendy European company that supplies clothing to the event. (The maker’s tag is still attached. There are crossed flags on the right sleeve, too.)

Please email your bids to – The reserve is $500 USD for the coat, hat, and an official Pan Am ballpoint pen. Bidding will close on July 4. The ensemble will be mailed, insured, to the winning bidder in the U.S. or overseas. The payment check will be made out to "Carrera Friends of Lupita Hernandez" and sent to her trust account in Los Angeles.

We need your continuing support. Thanks for bidding.


According to the President of the Organizing Committee, Eduardo de Leon, 120 competitors have signed up for the event this year. This is the biggest registration since the first years of the event. The largest group will be from Europe, with North Americans and Mexican entries following in second and third.

At this point in time, 35 North Americans (Canada and the U.S.) have signed up, filling the allotted spaces. Two competitors are on a contingency list, and a few more are still working hard to prepare their cars and find sponsors. Sadly, the event is effectively closed to any more registrations.

Technically, the Pan Am is limited to 100 cars because a public highway in Mexico may be closed only one hour for a rally. However, with the cooperation of the Federal Police, it is possible to squeeze a few more cars down the highway the first couple of days. After that, attrition will reduce the number of cars starting each day. Normally, about 60% of the serious accidents occur the first day or two, largely because the drivers are too excited or overly ambitious. They tend to forget that the Pan Am is really an endurance race -- seven days, 2000 miles.


What is the future of the Pan Am? This is a frequent question, especially from those contemplating the building of a racecar for the event. Who wants to invest $50,000-150,000 USD in a purpose-built rally car, if the Pan Am won't be around? Remember, these are not cars prepared for vintage racing, but hot rods with modern engines, steering, and suspension systems, etc. In fact, the only thing that might be old on a Turismo Mayor car (the fastest class) is the body, and even some of these body parts are being replaced by fiberglass.

There is an excellent chance that the event will be around for several more years. It may become more difficult to close some roads for top speed racing, but more speed stages could be moved to some of the new racetracks being constructed throughout Mexico. As more toll roads are built, this will take pressure off the old highways, where the competition tends to take place. Of course, there are politics in all things, and a different government might have a different view about closing highways for full bore racing. Bottom line? Get down to Mexico to race as soon as possible!


Ray Crawford (Alhambra , CA) was one of the great gringo names associated with the original Carrera. Like many of the current Carreraistas, Crawford loved the event and raced his own Lincoln all five years. A hard-charger, he did not finish the first four times out, but in 1954—the final year of the event—he finished first in class, defeating all the factory entries.

In 1951, 1953, and 1954 Crawford’s car was equipped with a 16mm camera, like those found in U.S. combat planes. This is not surprising since Crawford was a P-38 pilot in WW II with seven kills to his credit. Apparently, he showed some of this film to civic and car clubs in Los Angeles, but later the film was “lost” in the back of his garage. Now the film (17 reels) has been discovered by his family and is being restored. Reportedly, 14 of the reels were salvaged by the film’s new owner, Ron Kellogg ( and the results are remarkable.

Mr. Kellogg is looking for a business partner to edit the films properly and perhaps market them to a TV production company. I have volunteered my services to provide background information and script for voice over. If all goes well, some of the films may be seen in Monterey at a Carrera Fiesta on August 14. If you are interested in helping this project along, please let me know.


Being a spectator at the Carrera is extremely difficult unless you have a driver or guide who knows how to get you close to the action or a helicopter. On the first day, for example, the cars race 325 miles from the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez in the state of Chiapas north to the city of Oaxaca. Currently, there is only one route between the two cities, the original Panamerican Highway.

The racecars will leave downtown Tuxtla Gutierrez at 8:00 AM on Friday, October 22. Watching the ceremonial start of the race is always interesting, but if you do that, you will not be able to see the cars actually racing once they get outside of town. To watch the cars race, skip the ceremonies and go out to either the first or second speed run an hour before the racecars leave town. Pick a nice, safe vantage point, and wait. In an hour or so, the cars will come speeding by. Take mucho video or photos. After the 120 cars pass, you will trapped behind the race. It is virtually impossible to watch them by pass by again this morning, unless your ‘copter is waiting.

A good driver or guide will be able to get you ahead of the race during the service stop for lunch. You may not have time for a leisurely lunch break, but you can move up the road to a second vantage point to watch the cars go by one more time in the afternoon.

Alternatively, you may go on to the city of Oaxaca and watch the cars enter the main square, the Zócalo, in the late afternoon. The advantage of going on to Oaxaca is to have some time to see this beautiful colonial city before the race arrives. You may not have time to visit the impressive Indian ruins of Monte Albán, but you can walk around the downtown area (el centro historíco), check out the cathedral and maybe the market where Indian crafts are the featured items.

On the second day of the race, your choices are about the same. Skip the ceremonial start of the race in the Zócalo and go out to a safe spot in the mountains to watch one of the morning speed runs. Take some water and snacks, too. If you do not want to watch, then travel down the toll road toward Puebla to greet the cars when they arrive at the mid-morning service stop.

After this service stop, you can continue down the toll road to the city of Tehuacán. Make sure you are there when the race cars arrive at the main square. There will be thousands of people in the square, plus music and dancers. The festivities in Tehuacán should not be missed. You can also grab lunch at a restaurant on the main square. After lunch, head back down the toll road to Puebla. If you hurry, you can catch the racecars in the beautiful main square in Puebla, too. Check out the cathedral there, as it’s truly monumental.

By now you should understand how difficult it is to be a spectator at the Pan Am. A knowledgeable driver or guide is essential to getting close to the action. (See the Classifieds.)


The Chihuahua Express is scheduled for April 8-10, 2011. This is a great event because: it is nearly as much full-speed racing as the Carrera, but packed into only three days. It is only 145 miles from the U.S., and you return to the same luxury hotel room each night. The rules are the same as the Carrera, except that any car (with a full roll cage) may participate. Last but not least: it is relatively inexpensive.

For more information, go to or email the North American Coordinator for a brochure at


Several Pan Am cars will tackle Pikes Peak again this year. Doug Mockett and Angelica Fuentes will return in an attempt to reclaim their trophy as king and queen of the mountain. Todd Landon will have two or three Mustangs in the event, too, including Doug Allen (Co.) and Thierry de la Bosque (Belgium). Charles Breed will be there in his Chevy Lister. This year the vintage class will be divided into real vintage cars and those, like most Carrera cars, that are modified. Pan Am vet and former SCCA rally champ Karl Scheible will also be running a Subaru in the "Race to the Clouds." Go to for a complete list of entrants. Date: June 27.


Towing or driving a racecar to Mexico? Join the Coyote Convoy. Here’s the preliminary schedule:

Oct. 15 – 9:00 PM – meet in Laredo, Texas (Marriott Residence Inn del Mar)
Oct. 16 – 6:00 AM – cross the border and drive to San Miguel de Allende (540 miles)
Oct. 17 – 10:00-3:00 – display racecars in San Miguel de Allende
Oct. 18 – 7:00 AM – depart for Tuxtla Gutierrez, stop for evening
Oct. 19 – 7:00 AM – depart for Tuxtla Gutierrez (registration opens at 10 AM)

There is no cost for participating in the convoy except for the hotels along the way and any group meals. Spectators are also invite to tag along. Put your name on the mailing list for convoy news:

After the race, a convoy from Zacatecas back to Laredo, Texas is being organized.


ACE DRIVING GEAR. Tired off driving suits that make you look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy? Tired of suits that don’t show off your girlish figure? There is a solution: have a suit made for your unique body – at a very reasonable price – in the USA.

Ace Driving Gear has designed a suit with the rally driver and navigator in mind, too. It offers nine pockets and even pen-pencil holders in the sleeve for navigators. Most importantly, the suits are Nomex and SFI 3.2A/1 rated. The vintage look is really unique.

For more information to

MATS HAMMARLUND RACING – need a racecar to rent or built for next year? Mats will also store your car at his big shop in San Miguel de Allende for the Chihuahua Express and the 2011 Carrera. Contact Mats Hammarlund at Four of Mats’ cars took four of the top six spots in 2009, including overall winner.

TODD LANDON MUSTANGS – Todd has twelve years of Carrera experience as a racer and car builder. One of his cars finished first in class and fifth overall in the Historic C class in the Express last month, and the same car won the Historic C class in la Carrera, finishing in fourth overall. Todd also offers an “arrive and drive” arrangement, with full mechanical support. Email him at

THE PAN AM TOUR – if you want to see the race up close and personal ride along with Rosa María Mondragón

Because of the nature of the event—racing on public highways all day for hundreds of miles—the event is a challenge for spectators and photographers. The best option is to rent a car and experienced driver, or take the Pan Am Tour with Ms. Mondragón. Rosa, the former PR director for the race, takes 4-6 spectators with her for an exclusive insider’s view of the event. Hang on, because she is also an experienced rally car driver and Pan Am navigator. She will get you close to the action and important people.

WARNING: Please remember than La Carrera Panamericana is a pro- or stage rally that involves high speed driving over paved roads and tracks for seven days. It is a serious motor sports event, and as such, is dangerous. Even the transit stages run in regular traffic can be dangerous. Participants, at any level of competition, should take every precaution to ensure their safety, and should drive their vehicles with appropriate care. As it has been said many times, just finishing this event is a victory.

And finally, may we never forget the 175,000 Allied troops who hit the beaches of Normandie 66 years ago, and the four thousand Americans who lost their lives that day.


Gerie Bledsoe
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)
Carrera car number: 395, Historic C


spavon said...

Hi. I find something odd in the section "observing the race". The sequence reads Oaxaca - Puebla - Tehuacan - Puebla. Unless they go all the way to Puebla and then back to Tehuacan and again to Puebla, this is not right.
It would be great, though, the cars could be seen at race speeds twice or three times in a day.

So far our plan (I live in Puebla) is to drive early on Saturday towards Tehuacan, watch them go by, drink a lot of beer, make some carne asada then drive back to Puebla. On Sunday go to the zocalo and watch the start.
The order of events on Saturday may change depending on the schedule.
Hope to see you guys there!

Gary Faules said...

Herie said, "The leg is Oaxaca to Puebla, with a stop after lunch in Tehuacan."

spavon said...

Got it. Alternatives.

Hope to see you around and keep safe

sberry said...

Hey Gary -

Keep up with Richard Bailey and the rest of the team at