Monday, August 23, 2010

From The Desk Of Gerie Bledsoe

Carrera News

August 22, 2010



Eduardo Leon, the Honorary President of La Carrera Panamericana, announced that the event has 118 paid entries and 27 competitors “on the waiting list.” Normally, the race is limited to 100 competitors because of the time limit on closing the roads for rallies in Mexico.

Entries from North America were cut off, in effect, at 33 this year, despite an earlier allocation of 40. Thus a few norteamericanos, including some veterans, were precluded from signing up. The new entries are mostly from Europe, primarily Western Europe, Sweden, and Finland. By far, the largest class will be Historic C, which comprises American sedans (Mustangs and Falcons mostly) with V8 engines. Historic A+ (four cylinder cars, 1965-1972) is also growing rapidly.

The organizers apparently expect attrition over the first day or two to reduce the number of competitors significantly. Normally 1/3 of the serious mechanical failures (blown engines and transmissions) and accidents occur the first day when testosterone levels are amped up.


The route book, detailing the exact route for the Carrera this year, has not been posted on the official web site yet, but details of the route are being made available in various forums. Here are some gleanings and persistent rumors:

1. The Pan Am race will NOT venture into Mexico City this year, but will go around the city on the new by-pass, the Arco Norte. Apparently, traffic in the nation's capital of 22 million souls is worst than ever because of long-term construction on the main freeway into and out of town.

2. Reportedly, the Carrera cars will run speed stages to the east of Mexico City, perhaps in the Pachuca area, before going on to Queretaro.

3. The event will also return to the beautiful but potentially lethal mountain road called “Mil Cumbres, which means a thousand peaks, outside of Morelia. One report, cited on the Carrera's official web site, said the road was in the best condition ever. Others report it has been re-surfaced recently.

From of the top of the mountain to the bottom there are approximately 330 corners, with many hairpins lined with boulders, big trees, and ravines. Around each corner can lurk some dangerous obstacle—from slippery pine needles to wrecked cars, from felled trees to water hazards.

4. Reportedly, Carrera 2010 will NOT visit the town of Tequila in Jalisco, like it did last year. Instead, the race will end that day's run in a shopping center in Guadalajara.

5. As announced in CARRERA NEWS, the Pan Am will terminate this year in Zacatecas, not Nuevo Laredo. The final awards ceremony will probably be held in the Quinta Real Hotel, the famous "bullring hotel."

We assume, of course, that the racecars will run one or two speed stages on the road called “La Bufa,” which is on the mountain by the same name high above the city, before they finish in the main square by the cathedral.

Spectators should not miss the end of the race and the ceremonies in Zacatecas, a spectacular city by any measure.


Troubles among drug gangs along the Mexican border and the Federal government makes most tourists reluctant to drive into Mexico. That's a pity, because Mexico is a lovely country, and peaceful for the most part. The solution is the Coyote Convoy. The convoy, made up of 20 or so tow trucks, trailers, and colorful racecars will cross the border and travel the 540 miles into the peaceful interior of Mexico together. Anyone is invited to ride along with the convoy. There’s no charge. This is the ninth year of the convoy and we haven't lost a soul (or car) yet.

Here's the basic plan for the convoy:

Oct. 15, 8:00 PM. Meeting at Residence Inn del Mar, Laredo, Texas to discuss the route. Afterwards a shuttle will take anyone to the border who needs a visa or temporary vehicle importation permit.

Oct. 16, 6:00 AM. Line up in front of the hotel and head for the border.

6:00 PM. Arrive in San Miguel de Allende -- just picked by Travel and Leisure Magazine as the fourth top city to visit IN THE WORLD! It’s 540 miles away.

Oct. 17, 10:00 AM. Display racecars in the central square of San Miguel until 3 AM

6 PM. Fiesta

Oct. 18, 7:00 AM. Depart for Tuxtla Gutiérrez, going around Mexico City.

10 PM. Arrive Tuxtla Gutiérrez (pending weather and travel reports).

The race starts on Friday, October 22 and ends on Thursday, October 28. A qualification run is schedule for the afternoon of October 21.

Spectators are invited to watch the preparation of the cars at the fairgrounds (La Fería) in Tuxtla Gutiérrez (Chiapas), October 19-21.


More than 60 Carreraistas attended the Fourth Annual La Carrera Fiesta in Monterey, California in conjunction with the Monterey historic races on August 14. This year the fiesta was held at the Baja Cantina and Café on Carmel Valley Road, next to The Quail Lodge. Our wonderful host again was Bill Hemmer, a local contractor and Porsche guy, who has been a competitor twice in LCP.

The highlight of the evening, in addition to the six or seven Carrera cars on display, was the screening of 52 minutes of 16 mm color film from the original Pan Am race in 1951. It was the first segment of a film collection, recently discovered, that totals 17 hours on the races in 1951-1954.

The film was taken by the crew of Ray Crawford, a war hero and super market chain owner in L.A., who finally won the event in 1954 in a Lincoln. The film was discovered by Crawford’s family in cardboard boxes in a garage in L.A. in excellent condition. The Kellogg Auto Archives in Los Angeles has been restoring the film and kindly allowed the first segment (in DVD format) to be shown at the fiesta.

The owner of the archives, Ron Kellogg, is looking for investors and producers who would like to see the film prepared and edited for TV. This film may be the most important single collection of early Carrera film extant. Visit the archives web site at

Something must be done to make this important film available to the racing community.


There is an unconfirmed report that Pan Am cars this year will have a German GPS transmitter installed. Last year was the first in several that the cars did not carry GlobalStar transmitters. The problem with these systems is: someone must monitor a web site while the cars are in competition and have a phone number to call in the case of an emergency. Unfortunately, the web site cannot distinguish between a crash and a flat tire.

Some competitors are considering using a “Spot-2” GPS device, which allows a car to be tracked via computer or cell phone. It costs $149.00, plus a $99 annual subscription. This device allows the car’s crew ro send a SOS message to two cell phones.

Cells phones now work along most of the race route, but there are still places that require a Iridium satellite phone to ensure immediate communications.

Most cars and service trucks will also find it important to carry a Garmin GPS unit loaded with the latest maps of Mexican roads and cities. Buy your Garmin from any store and then contact Mark Walker at in Santa Barbara, CA for the 2011 Mexican map software ($104.00). I’ve used this software for three years now and have seen vast improvements. The software is most useful when trying to find the starting and finishing arch, plus the nightly driver’s meetings, in the cities along the route. The Garmin will also help in the transit sections.

Mark also sells the best book of maps of Mexico, the Guia Roji, which is supposed to be out in a new edition soon. The old edition does not even show the Arco Norte being complete around Mexico City.

You can also call Mark at 805-687-1011.


The Organizing Committee for the Pan Am, which is essentially the family of Eduardo Leon, has moved aggressively recently to protect the event’s trademark. The attorney representing the Committee, Luís Baron, has sent “cease and desist” letters to individuals in Germany and the United States demanding that they stop using the official trade mark “La Carrera Panamericana” on web sites.

Competitors and others should understand that this trademark is registered and thus protected by international treaty. A violation would normally mean someone is engaging in a business where money is being made using the trademark. Of course, it would be an exceptional race team that actually made any money from competing in the Pan Am, since there are no cash prizes or other financial incentives. Regardless, if your team plans to use the official logo, you should ask for permission from the Organizing Committee. Contact


CREW MEMBERS NEEDED. Some teams need mechanics and tow truck drivers. If you or a friend would like to be a volunteer for a team, please let me know immediately. Normally, the team only provides a hotel room, occasional meals, limited visits to the “hoochimamas,” and unlimited fun in the hotel parking lot at midnight prepping the racecar for the next day’s competition.

DRIVING SUITS FOR SALE. Tired off driving suits that make you look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy? Tired of suits that don’t show off your girlish figure, bodacious tatas, and great legs? There is a solution--have a suit tailored for your supple body at a very reasonable price in the USA. Imagine that, something stitched 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. (I’ve got to have one!)

For a photo an more information go to

PAM AM TOUR – do you or a friend want to watch the Pan Am this year? The best bet is to take the Tour operated by Rosa Maria Mondragon. She may be full already but you can email her at


East Coast Carreraistas are gathering on September 1 to watch the director's cut of the GT Racer segment on the Carrera 2009. For more information, go to


You must buy Mexico auto insurance to drive into Mexico. Canadian and U.S. insurance is no good below the border. The race organizers will require proof of liability insurance on all tow trucks (servicio) at registration in Tuxtla. The organizers provide third-party liability insurance on the racecars while racing, but you might want the racecar covered at other times as well.

To buy insurance on line, especially on older cars, go to “Baja Bound,” an insurance broker in San Diego. Their web site will offer you a variety of insurance companies and optional coverages, and you can pay by credit card. They understand La Carrera.

To shop or buy Mexican insurance through Baja Bound go to

If you do not have insurance and have a wreck in Mexico, you may be “detained” by authorities until the wreck is investigated and damages determined. This is especially true if anyone is hurt or killed, or there is extensive physical damage.


Please note that La Carrera Panamericana is a long, difficult endurance rally. Like all motor sports events, it is dangerous and can result in serious injury and even death. Prepare your car well and drive it carefully, especially the first two days of the event.


There will be one issue of CARRERA NEWS—the infamous handicapper’s edition-- before the event, in addition to CARRERA DRIVER and any necessary SPECIAL BULLETINS. Those interested in the Coyote Convoy should be on that mailing list, too.


Gerie Bledsoe
North American Coordinator
La Carrera Panamericana and Chihuahua Express
1288 East Hillsdale Blvd. A-204
Foster City, CA 94404
650-525-9190 (home office)
650-867-9488 (mobile)
Email: -- check the blog on the “News” page
CarreraCoyote (
Car #395, ’63 Chevy II Nova, the 12th Year

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