Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinetta

Alberto Ascari was a man in a hurry. In a relatively short Grand Prix career between 1948 and 1955, he became Formula One World Champion in 1952 and 1953, winning nine consecutive races on his way to the 1952 title.

Ascari also finished second in Mexico’s La Carrera Panamericana in 1951, teamed with Luigi Villoresi in the second of two factory Ferrari 212 Inter Berlinettas. After eight stages totaling 2,096 miles, on road conditions best described as wretched, the pair were only eight minutes behind winners Piero Taruffi and Luigi Chinetti. Ferrari had achieved a one-two finish, ahead of 33 American sedans, with varying degrees of factory support.
Carrera Panamericana in 1952

Clearly, 1952 was going to be a factory fight to the finish, and Ferrari built four cars specifically for the event. That year, the race was divided into sports and stock classes, with 26 cars entered in the European sports-car category. Mercedes would bring two 300 SL Gullwing coupes and a roadster, and there were entries from Jaguar, Gordini, Lancia and Porsche.

The factory Ferraris were named “Mexico” for the event. Designed by Giovanni Michelotti for Vignale, the 77.5-inch hood was one of the longest ever to grace a Ferrari, while the unique fenders extended beyond the oval grille in what is one of the most wildly attractive Vignale designs to date. Built as lightweight “340 America models,” with a small-diameter Tuboscossia chassis, the cars were powered by the Lampredi-designed, 4.1-liter, V-12. With 280 horsepower on tap, the Mexicos were capable of 0-60 mph in six seconds and had a top speed of 174 mph – extraordinary performance both then and now.

Enzo Ferrari pinned his hopes on Alberto Ascari/Giuseppi Scotuzzi, Franco Cornacchia/Luigi Villoresi and Luigi Chinetti/Jean Lucas, who represented Ferrari’s American operation. Giovanni Bracco was entered in a lighter 250 MM Berlinetta and very nearly pulled off a win. A 340 Mexico Barchetta roadster was entered for American Bill Spear, but he did not start.

Designed by Giovanni Michelotti for Vignale, the 77.5-inch hood was one of the longest ever to grace a Ferrari, while the unique fenders extended beyond the oval grille in what is one of the most wildly attractive Vignale designs to date.

Ascari and 0226 AT

The Mexico Berlinetta presented here – s/n 0226 AT – is remarkable for its matching-numbers originality and the comprehensive provenance that accompanies it. S/n 0226 AT was originally sold by Luigi Chinetti to Allen Guibertson of Dallas, Texas for the princely sum of $14,500. Chinetti also arranged for Ferrari team drivers Ascari and Scotuzzi to race the car in the 1952 Carrera Panamericana. The intensely competitive Ascari had been a runner-up the year before and had already disobeyed team orders to make certain of his first Formula One World Championship. He was a fiercely competitive and highly talented driver, to say the least.

Starting in 14th position, Ascari set a blistering pace and worked his way up to sixth by the 50-mile mark, where he passed Speed Age magazine writer Vince McDonald, camped by the side of the road. Here’s what McDonald saw:

“50 miles out (from the start), just over the first series of hills, the road wound down into a valley, across three narrow bridges, then back up into the hills. A blinding blanket of fog lay over the valley and it was here that we awaited the racing pack.

“At 7.25 a.m. the first car could be heard, as it screamed through the turns and down into the soup, hit the first, second and last wooden bridge with a deep rumble and disappeared. The fog was so thick that only by standing on the edge of the road and straining hard could the first car be distinguished – a Mercedes.

“Almost immediately the other two Mercedes-Benz went through, then the fog began to lift and the next car came off the bridge, a Ferrari driven by Efrain Ruiz Echeverria of Mexico City. Santos Litona Diaz in a Jaguar was next, with Alberto Ascari, who had started in 14th place trying desperately to pass on a bridge that was hardly wide enough for one car.”

The pace was clearly fast and furious. In a race that claimed more lives than would be acceptable by any modern standards, Ascari passed nine competitors at blistering speeds before his race came to an end prematurely as he lost control over loose stones and collided with a rocky ledge.

With John Fitch disqualified in his Mercedes, the Chinetti/Jean Lucas Ferrari Mexico salvaged third place for Ferrari, while Jack McAfee finished fifth and Phil Hill and Arnold Stubbs were sixth. In all, there were only 39 finishers from 92 starters.

Ascari’s car, s/n 0226 AT, was shipped back to Ferrari and Vignale for repairs, then returned to Guibertson in Dallas in the spring of 1953. Guibertson sold it to A.V. Dayton, who entered it in the July 4th SCCA race at Offut Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, driven by Carroll Shelby and Jack McAfee, who finished second. Just one year old, 0226 AT had already been driven by some of the greatest international racing legends in the world.

On October 25, Dayton entered the car in the Sowega SCCA races in Atlanta, Georgia, where, driven by a Mr. Duncan, it was sidelined by electrical problems. Dayton sold the car back to Chinetti before the end of the year.

Subsequent history

Throughout the rest of the decades, 0226 AT traded hands between several known owners on the East Coast and in Detroit until 1958, when Richard Londergran showed the car at the 1958 Detroit Auto Show. The following year he sold it to General Motors designer and Ferrari Club of America co-founder Larry Nicklin of Indiana.

Mr. Nicklin is well known to enthusiasts as he subsequently also owned chassis 0224 AT, one of the two sister cars to this car. 0226 AT, however, was one of the two Mexicos he owned. Years earlier, as a student in California, he saw such a car pictured in a magazine. As only three cars were ever built, it was surely unlikely he’d ever bump into one accidentally. But that’s precisely what happened – years later, while driving down the famed Woodward Avenue in Detroit, he spotted distinctive fenders poking out of a garage. As luck would have it, this 340 Mexico was 0226 AT. The talented young car designer acquired the car almost immediately and enjoyed it for about a decade, before parting with it to Art Jacobs of Mineola, New York in 1969. Jacobs kept the Berlinetta for only one year before passing it on to Theodore Pratt in New York City. There it stayed for five years until bought by David Carroll of Boston, Massachusetts, who would keep it for another ten years.


When Carroll did sell s/n 0226 AT in 1985, it was due for some work. New owner and prominent Ferrari collector J. Willard Marriott Jr. of Chevy Chase, Maryland commissioned a ground-up, three-year restoration by David Carte and Skip Hunt. Having restored s/n 0226 AT to its correct 1952 Carrera Panamericana specifications and livery, Marriott set out on the concours circuit in 1988.

He was immediately successful, winning Best of Show at the 1988 Ferrari Club of America’s Concours at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin and also the Phil Hill Award for Best Competition Car. He collected the Honorary Chairman Award at the Ferrari National Meet at Lake Lanier Island, Georgia in 1989 and followed that with the Peter Helck Award for Best Race Car at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance in Michigan. Marriott wrapped up the year with a Best in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, California. Without exaggeration, these awards constitute some of the most desirable honors the car could have secured in the late 1980s. Distinction at Pebble Beach and Meadow Brook certainly speaks for itself, but winning Best of Show at an FCA event signifies very positive recognition from the largest Ferrari club in the world. Such was the outstanding quality of this 340 Mexico.

After this, Marriott enjoyed s/n 0226 AT for almost 10 years, until he sold it to Carlos Monteverde in London in November 1997. Monteverde owned the Berlinetta for two years, selling it to the current owner in 1999, who like the preceding caretakers, is a prominent collector of the finest GT and racing machinery.

Since that time, 0226 AT has been back at home in competition, participating twice in the Colorado Grand (2001 and 2007) and competing energetically in the Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca in 2002, 2005 and 2006. In 2007, the car was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the Ferrari Competition class for exhibition only.

This featured 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinetta, chassis number 0226 AT, will be offered for sale at the RM Auctions Monterey auction, scheduled for August 19-20, 2011 at the Portola Hotel in Monterey, California.

With only three Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinettas built, this aggressive Vignale coupe would be welcome at events anywhere, be it the Mille Miglia Storica or any concours event around the world.

Furthermore, the car was recently inspected by Brooke Betz, who confirms that “all stampings and numbers appear original and match those on the Ferrari build sheets.” Betz, a highly respected Ferrari authority summarized the car best: “it is likely the best 340 Mexico in existence.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Carrera News


JULY, 2011

A Midsummer Night’s Edition











It is official: the 2011 Pan Am race will stop for lunch and service in beautiful San Miguel de Allende on October 25. The city will welcome the 120 race cars with open arms.

Picked by Condé Nast magazine as one of the top ten places to visit in the world, San Miguel de Allende remains a unique city in Mexico and, indeed, the world. It is a mix of quaint Spanish colonial architecture and a hip, artistic culture. A recent article in a influential art magazine picked it as one of the top ten art centers of the world. The only question is: will all this success spoil the nature of this special place?

Founded in 1542, San Miguel de Allende (SMA) was a key stop on the famous silver road from the mines in northern Mexico to the capital in Mexico City and a trading center. Centuries later its citizens also played a key role in the beginning of the Mexican Independence movement in 1810, earning the city enduring fame.

The city was declared a national monument by the Mexican government in the 1920s, but it was facing hard times during this period, evidenced by a serious loss of population. Fortunately, because of its location and topography parts of the historic center city were not demolished to build modern highways through the city. Today its cobblestone streets look (and feel) pretty much as they did in prior centuries.

With the help of some adventuresome Americans the city was slowly revived in the 1940s and 1950s as a center for the arts. These Americans and their Mexican counterparts recognized the unspoiled beauty of the place. Its growth accelerated in the ‘80s and ‘90s as it because not only a major art center, but a retirement community for norteamericanos (Americans and Canadians), a trendy weekend retreat for wealthy citizens from Mexico City, and tourist destination. Recently, the city was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Situated at 6200 feet above sea level, SMA offers a moderate year-round climate --- average temperature in the 70s (F.) sunny, dry, and unpolluted by factories and foundries. Snow has never been seen by most natives, and the rain usually falls only in the summer months.

The Pan Am cars will approach SMA from the south, coming north from Morelia via Celaya. When they reach the city, they will go around the east side of town up the mountain and then enter the city down the Calle San Francisco. They will park for 15 minutes in the main square, directly front of the iconic church “La Parroquia,” to be saluted by city officials and citizens. After a brief ceremony the cars will exit via Aldama Street to the new city parking ramp on Calle Cardo for lunch and service.

After lunch the Pan Am will head north to Dolores Hidalgo to run speed stages on the mountain highway to Santa Rosa and their destination for the night, the university city of Guanajuato. (See last month’s edition.)


Never raced in Mexico? Concerned about public safety and security, the food, and ambience? Join us for the Pan Am Pre-Race Tour, Sept. 8-13 in San Miguel de Allende. We will spend three or four days talking about the event and its unique protocols, and visiting some of the most famous speed stages. Above all, we will check out at least five of the cities along the route. Want to show your significant other a good time? Bring her/him along. SMA is a great spa and shopping town, too. The registration fee is only $450. A deposit of $300 by August 1 will hold your place. You may also participate Sept. 9-12, if you are pressed for time. A schedule and info regarding hotels are available. or call 1-650-525-9190 .


Competitors towing their cars or having them transported to Huatulco in October and other interested parties are invited to participate in the 10th Annual Coyote Convoy. The Convoy will leave Laredo on Friday, October 14, a day earlier than usual. It will again stop for two nights in San Miguel de Allende, before going on to Oaxaca on Sunday and Huatulco on Monday, October 17.

Each competitor will be asked to fill out papers to have their race car and tow rig brokered across the border, instead of using temporary tourist permits. A procedure and forms for obtaining the necessary permits will be sent to all competitors soon.

Following the end of the race in Zacatecas, the convoy or portions of it will return to Nuevo Laredo to be brokered back across the border to the U.S. The convoy is open to all competitors and spectators.


The fifth annual Carrera Fiesta will be held August 20 at the Baja Cantina in Carmel, California, 5:30-8:00 PM in conjunction with the Historic Races and the various car shows and auctions. Tickets are $25 or $30 at the door. Our gracious host again will be Bill Hemmer, who will be driving a Porsche 914 in the event this year. Reserve a place by emailing Bill at

This Fiesta has become a major reunion of Carrera vets and those interested in the event. Normally, there’s a brief, informal program, maybe a short film, and a Q and A session about this year’s event.


Around 120 cars are expected to start the Pan Am this year in Huatulco. Of these, about 1/3 will suffer mechanical failure or an accident along the way, but most will eventually cross the finish line (meta) in Zacatecas seven days later.

Mustangs, Falcons, and Porsche 911/912s will again dominate the event. At last count there are 22-24 Mustangs-Falcons and 15-17 Porsche 911/912s registered. So about 1/3 of the entries will be these models. Oh, where did all the Chevys go?! Fortunately, there will be three or four midyear Corvettes in the event.

Of special interest are the three Chrysler 300s being prepared by Mr. Kevin Kelly in North Carolina. These cars are being prepared as a tribute to the 300s that dominate NASCAR , ending the Lincoln’s reign, and were to run in La Carrera. Unfortunately, the Pan Am was cancelled in 1955, depriving the Chryslers a chance to show their stuff in Mexico. The identically-prepared cars will be driven by Mr. Kelley (USA), Mr. Marc Noel (Belgium/USA), and Mr. Roberto Quiroz of Mexico.

The Chryslers are schedule to compete in Historic C, but depending on their engines, they could be allowed to run in the Original Pan Am class, just as the Mexican LT Special, which was built for the 1955 Pan Am and never ran, was allowed to compete in Sports Mayor, which is limited to cars built from 1940-1954.


The final, complete set of rules (“reglamento”) for the 2011 La Carrera Panamericana has not yet been promulgated. An early version of the rules that apply to the preparation of the cars was released in June, but we yet await the final rules.

As posted last month in CARRERA NEWS, the speed of five classes will be limited by two specified combinations of tire size, rear end gear ratio (differential), and RPM rev limiter chip. The resulting limits on top speed are: Turismo Production (144.6 MPH), Turismo Mayor (146.6 MPH), Sports Mayor (142.8 MPH), and Historic C (142.8 MPH). 144.6 MPH=232.6 KPH, and 142.8 MPH=229.8 KPH, according to the information provided by the committee.

According to the preliminary rules, the cars must use either:

a) a 3.50 rear gear, 26.2” tires, and a 6600 RPM chip = 144.1 MPH/231.9 KPH, OR

b) a 3.70 rear gear, 26.2” tires, and a 7000 RPM chip =144.6 MPH/232.6 KPH

The Organizing Committee has been asked to permit any combination of rear gear, tires, and RPM chip that limits the speed to the maximum set for each class. The Committee is also expected to issue penalties for violations of these new limits.


Bag O Nails, 1966 Mustang GT 350 R

“Bag O Nails” is a 1966 Mustang GT 350 R clone maintained by Mustang guru Todd Landon with the intention of winning the Historic class on La Carrera and other events. The car was built from a bare shell in 2007 utilizing the very best of everything, and with the possibility of reverting to FIA homologation spec after the event. This car is simply the best prepared, fastest (420BHP) and most reliable Historic C Mustang alive, and is now for sale to a serious competitor. A lot of work has been done (weight reduction operation) to bring it to the highest standards.

2007: La Carrera Panamericana : 6th overall and 2nd in Historic C
2008: La Carrera Panamericana: 6th overall and 1st in Historic C
2010: Chihuahua Express: 5th overall and 1st in Historic C
Pikes peak: 2nd in Historic class (just beyond Doug Mockett)
La Carrera Panamericana: 4 times on the daily podium with at the end the 4th place in Historic C. Despite the very high level of competition this year, most of the time we finished in the top 15 overall

For more detailed info please phone or email.
Phone : +32497495495 or email

’53 Studebaker Commander. $120,000. Finished to your specifications: color and FIA seats and racing harness fitment. This car won the La Carrera Panamericana championship in 2008 and qualified first in 2010. Finish will be as good/better than 2010.

The car has been re-bodied and completely rebuilt since the 2010 event. It is now even faster and safer. The price includes a spares package and delivery/service is available. A build sheet is available. Completely Carrera-legal in all respects and guaranteed to pass all tech inspections. Needs nothing but you to win again. A rental arrangement for 2011 is a possibility. Contact Bill Beilharz, or 602-320-5173 (Phoenix).

’68 Porsche 911. Guards Red 2.0L. Full Cage, Fire System, Kirkey Seats, 5 Point Belts, 27 gal Fuel Cell, MSD, Fender Mounted Extra Oil Cooler, Smart Racing and Elephant Suspension. Fully sorted – Porsche Racing Ready. Built 2 cars at once, the sister car to this one in 2003 finished 9th overall. Call 512-346-1880 or email
Over $55,000 invested– asking $26,500.

‘66 Sunbeam Tiger. Ford 302 .060 over. High flow head . Roller rockers. Heavy-duty valve springs. Racing pistons, 10.5 to 1 compression. Racing cam. Heavy-duty oil pump . Edelbrock F4B manifold . Single wire chrome alternator. MSD distributor, coil, and ignition. High flow water pump. Fluidyne aluminum radiator. Aluminum oil cooler. Braded stainless steel fuel and oil lines with Aeroquip fittings. Holley 650 cfm Double pumper with regulator. Headers from Sunbeam Specialties. Remote oil filter. Heavy duty racing clutch lightened flywheel. Engine was totally rebuilt and computer balanced with the flywheel and harmonic balancer, approximately 8 hours on the engine. Ford top loader transmission, Rebuilt by "Toploader Heaven". Custom made heavy-duty drive shaft . Welded rear end. Custom made Mark Williams one-piece solid rear axles. Dual Holley Blue fuel pumps with relays. ATL 15 gal. fuel cell. Dual inline filter screens, Summit racing canister type fuel filter. Stainless steel fuel flex lines with Aeroquip fitting. $33,000 or b/o. Contact: Ed (415) 341-4965;

Photos and additional information are available at Click on Classifieds. The advertisers assume all responsibility for their ads.



The views expressed in CARRERA NEWS are those of the author and may not (probably don’t) represent the views of the Organizing Committee. The author is a competitor and any advice he offers may constitute a conflict of interest.

All forms of motor sports are inherently dangerous, and La Carrera Panamericana is no exception. It is a long, hard endurance race at high speeds mostly along mountain roads. Mechanical failures are common, accidents not uncommon, and serious injury and even death are quite possible.

Cars should be carefully prepared, with an emphasis on safety (brakes, seat belts, roll cage, etc.), and driven prudently. Drivers and navigators should remember that the most important goal of this event is to finish. Unless you finish, nothing else counts.


Gerie Bledsoe, Coordinator

La Carrera Panamericana and Chihuahua Express

USPO address: 220 N. Zapata Hwy Ste 11


Laredo, TX 78043

1-650-525-9190 (Home office)

Mexican phone number +52-415-185-8470

Mailing Address in Mexico (FedEx, UPS only):

La Quinta Prolong. 5-A

Centro-Ojo de Agua

San Miguel de Allende

37700 GTO


Email:, Skype: gerie.bledsoe

Carrera car number 395, Chevy II Nova, Historic C (1999-2011)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Memories From 2007 LCP In Mexico City

Gary Faules and Jon Emerson crusing downtown Mexico City during peak traffic at 150 miles per hour.

During the 2007 LCP there were many times that I heard officials and media speak out about how lucky us pilotos were that we would be able to race at speeds well over 100 miles per hour through downtown Mexico City. The most common statment was, "It's equivelent to Los Angeles closing down the Interstate 405." Well, guess what... Los Angeles is bracing for the upcoming 405 Freeway Closure. Yep, it's true.

The upcoming closure of Los Angeles’s 405 Freeway from July 15 to 17 seems to have triggered a unique survival instinct in Angelenos, report media outlets.

“Carmageddon” has put L.A. drivers on high alert with celebrities tweeting about the impending calamity and hospitals bracing for disruptions in staffing.

The 53-hour closure is part of an upgrade that will widen the freeway and add carpool lanes. During the shutdown, construction crews will tear down the south side of a bridge, making way for the improvements. The bridge will be rebuilt and the upgrades implemented during the following 11 months, then the process will be repeated on the north side of the bridge.

Backups of 32 miles in both directions are being predicted during the shutdown, with projections of 50-mile traffic jams in a worst-case scenario. Surface roads are expected to be packed.

Authorities have been warning motorists to avoid the area, but because that will not be possible for everyone, police are prepping for some very challenging traffic situations.

I think they should just do what they lety us do in Mexico City... Pay an entry fee and let them go like hell!!!

Monday, July 04, 2011

From The Desk Of Gerie Bledsoe

Carrera Driver
Third Edition -- July 2011


Special Edition for Carreraistas!


The first annual Pan-Am Pre-Race Tour is scheduled for September 8-12 in San Miguel de Allende. Three couples have signed up for this introduction to central Mexico and stage-rallying Mexican style.

San Miguel was the subject of a recent, extremely favorable article in Vogue magazine. CLICK HERE

Two weeks ago members of the San Miguel Moto Classico Club rode their motorcycles over the mountain to the city of Guanajuato for lunch at the main market. We traveled up the same winding road that will be used for the last speed sage on day #5 of LCP. This is a magnificent road for a speed stage. The Pre-Race Tour will visit this road in September, along with the speed stages known as “Mil Cumbres” outside of Morelia and Los Lobos near the city of Leon.


Not a many details have been published officially about this year’s route. However, it is official: the race will pay a visit to the main square (El Jardin) in San Miguel de Allende and then stop for service in our lovely city on day #5, October 25, during the transit from Mil Cumbres, outside of Morelia, to the last speed stage before entering the city of Guanajuato. Yes, this means we will race up Mil Cumbres around 9:30 AM upon leaving Morelia.

Leaving Huatulco on the first day, we will race south along the coast to Tehuantepec, before turning back north towards the city of Oaxaca on the old Pan Am Highway.

As far as I can tell, we will race on the same track in Queretaro and on the new NASCAR track in Aguascalientes as last year…..yes, the one that had a pile of gravel in the acceleration lane. Perhaps the gravel has been relocated?

With Gael Rodriquez making the route book this year, expect mostly uphill speed stages and conservatively-rated corners. Mr. Rodriquez prefers to keep us safe.


Last month the LCP Organizing Committee released a preliminaryset of rules governing most of the classes of Pan Am cars. This edition of the rules was forwarded to the competitors from the U.S. and Canada in CARRERA DRIVER.

On page 39 of these rules there is a new section stipulating the two options the Organizing Committee intends to use to limit the speed of cars in Turismo Production, Turismo Mayor, Sports Mayor, and Historic C. Speeds will be limited by two combinations of tire diameter, rear gears (differential ratios), and RPM chips. This assumes, of course, a 1:1 top gear in all cars.

After considering these new rules and discussing them with a few competitors, I have recommended the following to the Organizing Committee:

1. That each competitor in these four classes be permitted to select any combination of tire diameter, differential gear, and RPM chip that limits the car’s top speed to that specified in the rules.
2. That all competitors sign a statement that (1) their car is in compliance with the rules and (2) they will not change this set up during the race, and (3) they will accept immediate disqualification from the event if an unauthorized change is made to this set-up before or during the event.
3. That the inspectors will seal the transmission, differential case, and RPM chip into the car, and reserve the right to substitute a replacement chip in the ignition module.
4. That while in competition the cars be subjected to radar checks and random inspections, and
5. That the top four cars in each class be presented for inspection at the end of the event for compliance to these limitations and other rules. (Current practice.)

These changes are intended to allow competitors to use their current differential gear, and to avoid longer lines at the inspection tent in Huatulco by not checking each differential.

I also suggested that the penalties for exceeding the limit on speed for each class be stipulated in the rules.

Also note that the preliminary rules released last month incorrectly extended eligibility to any car in Historic B and C up to 1972. I have been informed by the race director that this was a mistake. These rules also contained several typos and organizational problems that have been highlighted for the race director. One rule which bears watching applies only to Historic C – that cars that weighed less than 2800 pounds upon manufacture must use a 2 barrel carb. This rule is not clearly stated in the written rules.

I also proposed the addition of a rule like found in the SCCA rulebook that says: if a modification is not specifically authorized by the rules, then it cannot be made. In Spanish it goes like this: “Lo no especificado esta prohibido.” The rule is borrowed from the competition rules of the Queretaro Racing Club.


Other than the limit on speed, the partial set of rules circulated three weeks ago did not appear to change much in the way our cars are fabricated and prepared. However, the Pan Am still does not have a clear set of instructions and diagrams for roll cages, seats, and belts.

Here is what the inspectors seem to be looking for:
a. All bars in the cage should be welded together, including all door bars (no Clevis pins). (FIA actually allows some bars to be bolted in.)
b. Each cage must have at least one support bar across the ceiling/roof of the car, if not a full “X” brace.
c. Seat belts (less than five years old) should be attached to the floor and cage properly.
d. There should two door bars; neither can swing open for entry.
e. Racing seats (one piece) are required. No seats on sliders, nor seats that fold or recline.
f. There should be at least one diagonal support bar under or behind the mail roll hoop, in addition to the two rear support legs.
g. The rear support bars for the main roll hoop should go back at a proper angle.
h. Cars that have wide front doors, like big American coupes, should have more bracing for the front of the cage (by the “A” pillar).
There is some understanding that a cage approved by the SCCA or FIA is OK, except perhaps for the bar(s) across the roof.

At least one car was not allowed to compete in the Chihuahua Express because its cage was ruled not acceptable, and other competitors were forced to modify their cages, seats, and/or belts to pass inspection.


Driving Suits --- expect the FIA limit of five years for a suit to be enforced. Check your suit for a tag or FIA label with a date on it. If you buy a new one, make sure you are getting the whole five years.

There is no rule requiring a two- layer suit or any level of SFI protection, but inspectors have been known to insist on them. A one-layer suit with Nomex undies may be acceptable. The wearer’s name, blood type, Rh factor and any allergies must be listed on the front of the suit and on the back of your helmet. I recommend a two-layer suit.

Drivinh Gloves and Shoes – Nomex/fire resistant gloves and shoes were checked and sealed in LCP last year and the Express in April, although there seems to be no written rule requiring them.

Helmets – Snell SA2005 or the European equivalent is required. Make sure the helmet has the proper tag inside. Closed-face helmets should be used in open cars. Absolutely no M/C (DOT) helmets are allowed. (I assumed that Snell1020 helmets are OK.)

HANS Device -- a HANS device or other approved form of head and neck restraint, like a Defender or Leatt Brace, is required. You cannot race without one. You may use 2” belts with the HANS, too.

Fire systems – cars should be equipped with a fire-suppression system (a bottle and two or more nozzles). Although not required by rule, having a couple of hand-held ABC fire extinguishers in the car might come in handy, too.

Power-Off Switch -- each car should have a switch that turns off all power to the car. This switch, by rule, should be mounted on the outside of the car. Some cars also have a switch inside the car within reach of the driver or navigator.

This may not be a complete list. Read the rules, again.


Serious racers know that all safety gear must be worn properly.

Helmets should fit snugly, and the straps should be worn tight. In several recent wrecks, including one fatality, the helmet popped off the navigator’s head upon initial impact. Auto-racing helmets are constructed to take successive impacts and be fire resistant. Obviously, your helmet must stay on to serve its purpose.

Seat belts should also be tightened until they hurt, and then tightened a little more. After the first speed run, the harness should be tightened again. Competitors should NOT use a cushion to move themselves closer to the steering wheel. A specially made foam insert or dense foam padding (like that used by backpackers) is recommended.

Some European racing organizing require that the driver/co-driver have access to a knife or sharp implement (belt buster) to cut the harness in case of an emergency. Sometimes, in a roll-over, when the car lands belly up, the cam lock belts are impossible to open because of the weight of your body on the lock. Latch-type belts usually do not have this problem. Belt busters are recommended, but not yet required.

Practice emergency exits. All competitors, especially those who are not involved in racing on a regular basis, should practice quick escapes from their car several times, including through the window, starting with their helmet and belts tight, window nets up. This exit routine should also be practiced blindfolded--to simulate a cockpit filled with black smoke. Be able to get out in 10-15 seconds! Drivers should also be able to exit through the co-piloto’s window, too, and vice versa. The fire suppressions system and Nomex suit are designed only to give you a few precious second to get your fanny out of the car.

Rookies should also practice getting into their car with their HANS device on, raising the window net, locking their belts, putting on their helmet, connecting the HANS, putting on their glasses inside the helmet, gloves, tightening their belts, and using their toes to turn on switches on the dashboard. (Really, that advice is not always a joke.) Do not wait until Huatulco to learn this one minute routine.

Even if competitors intend to exercise moderation behind the steering wheel, as we all know, “poop happens.” Be prepared when that twenty pound bag of burro dung or felled tree drops on your head outside of Morelia. (Yes, the latter has happened.)


The old, written rules continue to say in several places that 55 series tires or taller must be used in several classes, including the most popular class, Historic C. However, the tabular version of the rules says 50 series or taller. For the last many years competitors in most classes have used 50 series tires, since it is hard (impossible) to find DOT competition tires in taller sizes.

The most popular tires for the Carrera are Toyo RA-1, Toyo A-888, and Yokohama A-048 in the 225-255/--50--/15-16” sizes. It would seem that most competitors inflate them to around 30 pounds, although the RA-1s do not reach their maximum adhesion until they heat up to around 40 pounds, which is not likely in the Pan Am.

Toyo RA-1, A-888, or Yoko? Based on my experience with all three, the RA-1 seems to have a little stronger sidewall than the Yoko, but all are excellent. The A-888 puts more rubber on the road, but at full tread gets really slick on hot pavement when new. Some track racers have complained about the tire’s lack of longevity, but using them in Mexico for two years now, I have no complaint. Being a slow, cautious budget racer, one set of any of these tires lasts me for the whole Pan Am and maybe a Chihuahua, too. Then I have them recapped. ;)

As most serious racers know, these tires are fastest when the tread is just about gone. However, it is illegal to shave tires for this race. Unshaved race tires tend to be greasy and prone to chunking when raced at full tread. They may be OK as rain tires, but on hot pavement, at top speed, exercise a tad of caution until you get used to them.

Thus all DOT competition tires should be scuffed up good before using them in Mexico. “H” rated M+S tires will work fine for some, perhaps less competitive, drivers. Just remember that a well-functioning brake system, solid rims, and proper tires are critically important to your safety.


As announced earlier, once the entry fee or the hotel rooms are paid, the following policies of the Organizing Committee apply:
50% cash refund on the entry fee until July 31st.
50% credit for the entry fee for 2012 event from August 1st until September 1st.
From September 2nd, no credits or refunds on the entry fee
For hotels, once paid, there will be no refunds, and the rooms are not transferable.

Have you made your request for your hotels in Huatulco for October 17-20, or whenever you and your crew will arrive? Ask about the all inclusive deals, too. Contact about your hotel needs.
The Coyote Convoy will arrive in Hautulco on Monday, October 17.

Did I say that auto racing is extremely dangerous and that includes La Carrera Panamericana?
Adelante muchachos y muchachas!

650-525-9190 (a Vonage phone, a free call to me)
Local Mexican phone: +52-415-185-8470

© Gerie Bledsoe 2011

Morning Qualifying – Whatsa Motto You?

By Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

Jean Trevoux's Motto-bodied Packard during the 1953 Carrera Panamericana.

In yesterday’s MQ comments, the topic of big cars, generally, and Packards, in particular, came up with respect to the original Carrera Panamericana. As it turned out, the driver of yesterday’s Monte Carlo Rally winning Delahaye, Jean Trevoux, also campaigned a custom bodied Packard in the 1953 and 1954 Carrera Panamericana. Both, the driver, and his car, have interesting stories.

Trevoux, an engineer by trade, was the top test driver for the French manufacturer Hotchkiss in the 1930′s. Trevoux was also a gifted race car driver, and a regular competitor at Le Mans during the era; However, he was even better on the rally stages, winning the highly challenging Rallye du Maroc twice, and the Monte Carlo Rally four times; Most notable of which were Trevoux’s wins in 1939 (the last rally before the war) and 1949(the first rally after the war) in the same car, a Hotchkiss 686GS with the same co-driver, Marcel Lesurque.

In 1940, Trevoux and Luigi Chenetti came to the US to prepare a pair of Maserati 8CLTs for the Indianapolis 500. Both men found themselves stranded in the US by the quickly shifting geopolitics of the day. While Chinetti spent the war years wining and dining with the top of the social registry building the personal relationships that he’d later use to sell Ferraris in America, Trevoux used his engineering skills in the defense industry building drive trains for tanks. After the war, Trevoux went to Mexico, met and married his wife, and opened a bar and restaurant, “La Cucaracha”. With the French auto industry’s slow post-war recovery, Jean was able to meet his obligations as Hotchkiss’s top test driver, compete in a few rallies, and still be a successful club owner in Mexico City. When Enrique Martín-Moreno organised the first Panamericana in 1950, Trevoux purchased a Motto bodied Delahaye 175s. Trevoux finished 9th in the 1950 Carrera then shipped it to Europe, where he used it to win the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally.

Trevoux and co-driver, Jean Bachereaux, in their Packard Motto Special.

In 1952 and 1953, Trevoux competed in the Carrera with a standard Packard 200 coupe. He liked the solid build and engineering of the Packard and the power that its 327 cubic inch made. Trevoux realized that a lighter car, based on the Packard chassis and running gear could be a serious challenger for the next Carrera. So, he shipped a Packard 200 chassis to his old friends at Carrozzeria Rocco Motto in Turin. While no one has seen the car or Motto’s plans, it is believed that car had tubular steel frame supporting its aluminum body panels.

Motto narrowed the Packard’s track by 4 inches, removed a foot off each end of the chassis while leaving the wheelbase unchanged, and significantly lowered the car’s stance. The drastic reduction in the chassis size, coupled with its snazzy aluminum clothes made the Motto Special 400 pounds lighter than a standard Packard 200.

Trevoux sent the Packard’s straight eight to legendary drag racing pioneer, Howard Jahanson for a mild upgrade. Johanson slightly over bored the Packard’s eight, and added a custom 3/4 Howard camshaft. Johanson built a log-style, custom manifold for its four Stromberg carburetors. When completed, Johanson’s engine made over 300 hp. That power was fed via a Borg-Warner T85 3 speed transmission with overdrive to a 3:91 rear end. The front suspension had twin shocks at each corner and a stabilizer bar added to the stock front suspension. The larger, drum brakes from a Packard 400 boosted its stopping power.

The interior was comfortable space working space for Trevoux and his co-drivers, Bachereaoux and Gonzalez. The dashboard is stock from a 1952 Packard 200, with a Nardi wheel, and padded, custom aluminum seats. Naturally, the back seat was removed. The Motto Special failed to finish in 1953 due to cracked oil pan, but returned with a strong, 13th place finish the following year.

Trevoux retained ownership of the Motto Special for several years, before selling it to an unknown collector in Mexico City. It is believed that the car remains in “as raced” condition. His restaurant, “La Cucaracha” was ultimately sold to Don Pedro N. Rodríguez, father of Ricardo and Pedro. Trevoux actively supported the Rodriguez brothers and Moises Solana in their racing careers. Jean continued to race and rally for the rest of the decade. Trevoux and Enrique Martín-Moreno formed Autos Francia, who imported Peugeots to Mexico. Trevoux passed away in 1981.

The Motto Special, with Trevoux and Jean Bachereaux, during the 1953Carrera Panamericana

Trevoux and Armando Gonzalez during the 1954 Carrera Panamericana.