Tuesday, May 22, 2012




For the fourth straight year La Carrera Panamericana is over-subscribed, and according to them, the Leon family is expecting the same in 2013. Thirty-five competitors will come from U.S. and Canada this year, but the big growth has come primarily from Mexico.

Want to participate next year? Do not plan to enter a Porsche 911, Mustang, or Falcon under less you are a NBF of the owner. Best choices are: Ferrari, Alfa, Maserati, Aston Martin, or something more exotic. Have your entry ready by February 1, 2013.

Twice I have asked the Carrera Office via email when the entries for 2012 will be posted on the official website, but have received no response. There is a rumor, for example, that registration, plus prep and inspection of the car will be held in the Convention Center in Veracruz. Again, no response.


In 1954 a young photographer, Boyd Harnell, went to Mexico to “shoot” the Pan Am. Unlike many of the Mexican news photographers, who stationed themselves at the start and finish lines each day, Boyd would drive is Olds 98 out along the route to take photos of the cars actually racing. He was also the first photographer to use a motor-driven camera, one salvaged from a German WW II fighter plane. Thus he could take a series of shots of a car rounding a corner. Today his famous photos of Phil Hill and Richie Ginter driving a factory Ferrari around a corner in the Mexican mountains hangs in four museums, including the Nethercutt auto museum in Los Angeles. This series, properly mounted and autographed by Hill, has sold for as much as $13,000.

Boyd went on to an outstanding career in photo-journalism in the U.S. and eventually Japan, where he has lived and worked for the past thirty years. Most recently, he was largely responsible for exposing the massacre of dolphins along the coast of Japan, which led to the making of the award-winning film, “The Cove,” and two Genius Awards from the U.S. Humane Society.

Boyd has graciously agreed to make some of his photos available to readers of CARRERA NEWS. He will print them by hand on the highest quality photographic paper, guaranteed to last a lifetime. Here are two great action shots in low resolution: the famous Caballo de Hierro of Acton “Ak” Miller and a Ford racing at the limit. Ak Miller was the builder and piloto of the Caballo de Hierro (Iron Horse), perhaps the most popular car to run the original Pan Am. The Mexicans loved the car because it was made out of parts from a “yonke,” and called it “La Ensalada,” the salad. Here's Ak and Boyd at a ceremony honoring him and a replica of his car at the NHRA Museum in Pomona a few years ago.

If you want to see Harnell's photos for a possible purchase, please let me know.


The sixth annual Pan Am “Fiesta” will be held on August 18, 2012, 4:00-8:00 PM in Carmel, California at the Baja Cantina again. Last year nearly one hundred people attended. Participants are urged to bring their Carrera cars, or other collectibles, to display.

In addition, our Carmel host, Bill Hemmer, and others will be entering their Carrera cars in the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concourse on August 14, 10:00-3:00 on Ocean View Avenue in Carmel.


For the second year a “Rally Tour” is being offered in San Miguel de Allende. The tour is designed to introduce “rookies” to Mexico and to stage rallying “a la Mexicana.” It is also open to veterans. This year the tour is scheduled over a weekend, September 5-9.

Assuming eight-to-ten participants, the cost will be $495 USD per person. Participants will make their own airline and reservations. They may pick their hotels from a recommended list that includes super luxury to business class, or even an upscale B & B. A lot of detailed information about all the options here in this wonderful area will be provided.

Of all the cities in central Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is probably the safest and most visitor-friendly. It is a small city, so you can walk almost anywhere. It has many excellent restaurants, with a variety of national cuisines; art galleries, design center, spas, and other attractions, including two shops that build racecars. Condé Naste magazine picked SMA as one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world.

The tour will visit the city of Guanajuato and explore the underground labyrinth of roads where several Pan Am cars got lost last year.

Nearby airports include: Leon-Guanajuato (BJX), Queretaro, Morelia, and San Luis de Potosi. There are regular shuttles to and from BJX, the nearest airport, and Mexico City, which is 180 miles away.

If you are interested in the Pre-Rally Tour, please ask for the details and testimonials from last year’s participants. All proceeds go to the charity, Mujers en Cambio, an organization that provides scholarships to disadvantaged young Mexican women from the countryside.


The 7th Chihuahua Express has received coverage in several U.S. and European publications, including the British Historic Motor Racing News, AUTO D´EPOCA (Italy), and the Vintage Racing League.

A new campaign is being launched this year to build participation in this great event from the U.S. and Canada. Next year’s Chihuahua Express is planned for April 12-13-14, 2013.


Mats Hammarlund Racing had two cars entered last weekend in the Mexican NASCAR series for V6 cars, which is analogous to the Nationwide Series in the U.S. One of his cars crashed early in the race but one finished third. Felicidades!.....Racing folks and car fabricators in SMA are planning motorsports week next summer, July 1-7 for vintage and modern cars, plus motorcycles and solar-powered cars….Pan Am Champ Doug Mockett shipped his ‘54 Olds “down under” for the Targa Tasmania only to discover it rains a lot this time of the year in that part of the world. Doug and his co-piloto Angelica Fuentes, hampered by the lack of windshield wipers, missed a #3 left and the rest of the race. Mockett reported that car was in pretty bad shape, but that the Targa had a nifty electronic timing system….The guys that run Euro-Latino Racing here in SMA are working on a racing tour in Argentina with special cars based on U.S. chassis from the 1930s…..Like to ride a motorcycle? Some guys are planning to follow LCP this year on their bikes….Don’t want to ride a moto? Then sail your yacht to Veracruz with Bill Beilharz, former LCP Champ…..Want to rent a car for LCP? Prices in San Miguel range from $15,000 to $50,000 depending on how fast you want to go and how much support service is provided…..of course, if you break it, you pay to fix it……RIP Carroll Shelby, you were the guy many of us wanted to be – a skilled driver and accomplished car fabricator, and not the least, a humanitarian.


The U.S. Travel Editor of “Lonely Planet,” a travel information service recently explained in his blog why it is safe to visit Mexico, pointing out that some places in Mexico are a lot safer than many cities and some tourist destinations in the U.S.

U.S. tourism to Mexico, about 5.3 million visitors last year, was down about 3% primarily because of the economy and disturbing drug cartel news from Mexico. There are signs that the trend is turning around, especially among couples with no children.


In my 15 years of racing in Mexico I never experienced or seen any act of violence toward any competitor. Now my wife and I live in Mexico and enjoy it thoroughly every day.


Studebaker Turismo Production

’53 Studebaker Champion HT. All the right stuff. 425 HP 305 C.I. SBC with 220 cc iron heads. Roller rocker cam. 2” DOM/Cro-moly sixteen-point cage. Dual ignition, Jerico four-speed. Tilton clutch. Full floater 9” rear end. NASCAR and Wilwood brakes. Sweet steering. Olin shocks. Fuel Safe 22 gal cell. TerraTrip. Intercom. Finished first in LCP qualifying in 2007. One of the best deals out there. Only $45,000. Contact Roger at habich@precor.com

Studebaker "Sarmiento"

The "Juan Carlos Sarmiento" car, a well known, multiple Carrera Panamericana winner. Not a newly build car, but an original Studebaker chassis. A competitive and well-prepared car that is a top-five finisher. Meets the latest Carrera regulations and is in excellent condition.

The car resides in Mexico and is ideal for La Carrera Panamericana 2012 or the Chihuahua Express 2013!

Contact info: RMD Bvba
Marc Devis
Tel: +32/ (0) 475 422790

Email: salesinfo@rmd.be


CARRERA NEWS is a blog and e-newsletter covering rallying, racing, and related activities in Mexico and in other countries, primarily the U.S. It is not the official publication of the Organizing Committee of the Carrera Panamericana or any other rally organization. The opinions herein are the author’s only.

The purpose of this publication is not to encourage participation in any particular event, but simply to present information and insights that might prove useful to readers who are interested in participating in any of these events.

The author may be a competitor in some of these same events, so a conflict of interest situation may exist.

All readers should understand that auto racing, including stage rallies in Mexico, is inherently dangerous, and can lead to serious injury, death, dismemberment, bankruptcy, divorce, and/or lifelong addiction.

© Gerie Bledsoe

San Miguel de Allende, GTO
May, 2012