Sunday, January 20, 2013


Carreras News

December 2012




North American and European participation in the Chihuahua Express is on the increase, given the number of entries received and requests for information. Several drivers from the U.S. are even signing up for the Express Rally Tour, a time/distance event.

The deadline for the early entry discount has been continued until December 31. It will be $2250 USD until all the mail is received after the holidays.

There is evidence that the violence associated with the drug wars in Mexico is on the decline, perhaps because of the installation of the new president of Mexico, and that, regardless, folks north of the border are learning that this violence has had no adverse impact on racing in Mexico.

A new bulletin entitled “Driving the Chihuahua Express – Advice for Rookies” is available on request. It describes what it is like to compete in this stage rally across the mountains of north-central Mexico.


Nothing has been posted on the official web site yet about the dates of next year’s Pan Am race. Normally, it starts the last Friday in October and end seven days later. That would be October 25-November 2, 2013. It could also be the preceding week.

Also nothing has been posted about when entries may be submitted. Last year, registration opened on the official web site in mid-February.

North American (U.S. and Canada) rookies should fill out a pre-registration form and send photos of their car and its roll cage to the North American Coordinator for review prior to February. Final approval will be made by the Chief Inspector for the event. Returning veterans who are entering a new car should also send photos of the car and its roll cage to the Coordinator in January.

If you need diagrams and advice about constructing a proper cage for the Pan Am (and the Chihuahua Express) please ask the North American Coordinator. Again, the final decision about cages and other safety equipment is made during inspection at the events.

A current racing license in the U.S. or Europe is expected but not required. All entrants should have appropriate experience or training.


The Friends of Lupita (Amigos de Guadalupe Hernandez) want to thank all who contributed to her trust fund during the Pan Am. Contributions came in a variety of ways this year. Stewart and Linda Robertson started the ball rolling with a generous cash contribution, which was followed by one from Todd Landon (“Mustangs to Go”).

Walter Sikes donated a batch of decals for the cars, which were sold with other donated items before the race. $330 was collected in sales. Finally, a special CARRERA CARS SALE edition of this newsletter raised over $1000, with major contributions coming from Lars Stugemo, Rich Morrison, and Paul Hladky. Another anonymous donor contributed $300 in early December.

Contributions may be sent to “Amigos de Lupita”
c/o Doug Mockett, P.O. Box 3333, Manhattan Bch, CA, 90266.


As most of you know by now, Pan Am legend John Fitch passed away recently. Fitch was the only American driver hired by Mercedes for the Pan Am. After the Pan Am, he had a significant racing career in the U.S. and Europe, and went on to make many other contributions to motor sports and driving safety.

A absolutely great collection of vintage photos honoring Fitch can been seen at

Indeed this is one of the best collections of photos I have ever seen.

Fitch was extensively interviewed for the most recent DVD on the original Pan Am by producer-director Stephen Mitchell. It is available on DVD for $22.00 from Interfund

**PAN AM 2012 - REPORT

The 25th running of La Carrera Panamericana is in the books. Congratulations to Gabriel Perez and Ignacio Rodriguez who piloted their beautiful white Studebaker to a decisive victory.

North Americans in the top ten included: Doug Mockett and Angelica Fuentes (3d), Stewart and Linda Robertson (5th) and Taz Harvey and Rudy Vajdak (8th).

For a variety of reasons, this Pan Am was exceptional. Instead of starting in the traditional city of Tuxtla Gutierrez or Oaxaca, the organizers ultimately decided to start in Veracruz, Mexico’s major port city on the Gulf of Mexico. This is the third time in recent memory the rally has started there.

The good news was: the event had the use of the new convention center in Veracruz, the World Trade Center, and the air conditioning was appreciated by all. Registration and tech always goes a lot easier when the air temp is less than 90 degrees F.

The rest of the route was pretty routine for the veterans, but maybe a little intimidating for rookies, and the event had a lot of rookies this year, especially from Mexico. Experienced navigators, like Fernando Garcia and Angelica Fuentes, spent a lot of time mentoring the new co-pilotos along the way.

From Veracruz the race went to Oaxaca for the first night. The racing was excellent and the welcome in Oaxaca was enthusiastic as usual. Unfortunately, a co-piloto in a Mexican car, Javier Davalos, was killed on the second speed stage when his car crashed. According to one of the event’s doctors he perished because he was not wearing his safety belts properly. His brother was driving the car. Our condolences go to the entire family.

From Oaxaca, the event followed the original Pan Am highway down to Tehuacán for the traditional fiesta in the town square. It seems that half of the city’s population shows up. After an hour signing autographs and kissing babes of all ages, the cars headed to Puebla for the night. There were also large crowds in Puebla, but they were more subdued, lacking the excitement in Tehuacán.

From Puebla the cars made a long transit in the early morning to the state of Queretaro, where they ran speed stages in the Sierra Gorda. The first speed stage was a new one to most Carrera veterans, and the results were spectacular (see Legal below). After a night in Queretaro the race moved on to the mountain road called Mil Cumbres in Michoacán and the lovely colonial city of Morelia the next evening. As usual, the Zocalo and cathedral in Morelia were spectacular.

From Morelia, the cars zipped up Mil Cumbres again, and turned north toward the state and city of Guanajuato for the second time in so many years. At last report, no cars got lost (for long) in the maze of tunnels under this unique capital city. Again, the speed stages over the mountain from Guanajuato to Dolores Hidalgo seemed popular with the racers, who headed toward the industrial city of San Luís Potosí (SLP) for the evening. The contrast between SLP and Guanajuato is significant. SLP is located on a plain, without many hills for racing, while Guanajuato, a university town, is located in a deep mountain valley, along the course of a river.

From SLP the race jogged back to the state of Aguascalientes to run up and down the stage called La Congoja, before heading north to La Bufa and the finish line in Zacatecas.

In addition to the racing fatality on the first day, an American racer from Alaska, Brock “Coach” Weidner, suffered a fatal heart attack on the final day. Fortunately, he had just pulled over at a closed part of the highway in a speed stage when he collapsed at the wheel. Our sympathy goes to his co-driver, Alicia Dunning, friends, and family. Brock was neither married nor had children, but will be missed by his friends and clients up north.

As has become the custom, each race car crew stopped at the finish line’s arch in Zacatecas to dance on the roof so they could douse each other with cheap champagne, beer, or some other sticky beverage. The poor drivers at the end of the line had to wait hours to cross the finish line. Clearly, the crews seemed happy with the event and pleased to have finished.
(This account was edited and approved by the Pana Organizing Committee.)


The people, the colonial cities, good friends, and the landscape of Mexico never disappoint. The crowds that came out to see the Pan Am cars in sweaty Veracruz were significant, and absolutely huge in the beautiful zocalo of Oaxaca and especially Tehucán, where it is estimated that at least one-third of the population lines the streets and packs the historic center to greet the “Pana.” Only in this city is a seventy-year old gringo driver capable of provoking real swoons from fifty-year old women and a sixteen year-old girls simply by touching their hands and saying, “hola” with a smile, while trying to drive with the other hand into the packed main square.

During the day the Pan Am cars pass long lines of trucks, busses, and cars waiting patiently for race to pass so they can reach their destination. In all cases we are greeted with applause, “V” signs, and thumbs up; nary a one-finger salute. Entries into the cities are always exciting when the police wave us wildly through intersections or show off how fast they can ride their motorcycles while looking pack at the line of race cars behind them. And then there are the children with their big brown precious eyes, taking it all in, as their parents line them up to take photos with the “brave pilotos and co-pilotos.”

Women crew members are especially sought out for photos and smiles of admiration and we can only hope that these impressions, memories, and photos will encourage some of these girls to consider alternative careers as they mature.

How many photos and videos were taken with cell phones in the seven days as we passed through big cities and one-burro villages? Fifty gazillion?

And finally there are our fellow competitors who--once the initial adrenalin rush wears off --are quickly bonded together as friends, at least racing buddies, by their mutual quest simply to survive and to cross the finish line, given the pain and suffering experienced along the way, such as the two tragic deaths.

Walking down the street in Zacatecas as the cars are still creeping through the final arch most veterans realize that, while the cars and racing is the reason we are together, it is the profound mutual experience as humans and the friendships that we will remember and treasure most as the years pass.


‘54 Studebaker Commander. A Beautiful New Car.

355 cubic inch Chevrolet, full roller motor, Tremec wide ratio 5 speed. Winters Champ rear end w/ Diamond posi locker. 6 sets of gears. 355 Gears installed. Diff. cooler. Speedway Engineering sway bars, front and rear. Full floater hubs on 4 wheels, 5 on 5. Nascar front suspension. Extra arms, spindles, bearings, heims. Wilwood Superlight XL brakes, Accubrake system, balance gauges, spare Coleman rotors. H and R radiator. Ohlin coilovers. Spare springs. Fuel Safe cell, 22 gallon. Appleton Rack, MSD ignition, cockpit timing adjust. 2012 belts, and seats, nets, fire bottle, chrome(!) cockpit bottle. 2 complete sets, 10 Toyo Tires and 10 wheels. Build Pictures on request. New car, never raced. $80,000 USD.

Contact:  Frank 415-720-1482. Rolling perfection. Richmond, California.

N.B. This is an exceptional opportunity – a solid, safe, fast car, at a rock bottom price. You cannot duplicate this car and the pride of workmanship for the asking price. Besides that, it’s really sexy. The car may be seen at the Chihuahua Express in April. Buy it now and race it at the Express. Special instruction in getting the most out of the car will be provided by the builder.


Coca-Cola Pan Am Buick – this is a replica of the Mexican ‘54 Buicks that ran in the original Pan Am. It is reported to be a good driver and easy to update for the Pan Am, Original Pan Am class. Located in Monterey, California. $24,000 USD/BO. Contact Steve Dole at Go to for details about the car.

The car was recently used the model for a run of 100,000 die cast models, so you can have it in two sizes. A model comes with the original, too. You are bound to be popular among the Mexicans in this car, which celebrates part of their racing history.

©Gerie Bledsoe 2012
San Miguel de Allende