Thursday, May 1, 2014


Carreras News
April 2014


Modern BMW’s took the top two places in the Express, April 3-6, gaining sweet revenge for the upset last year.   The overall winners were EDuardo "Lalo" Henkel and Sergio Puente in their “1 M.”  A M3 in the hands of Manuel Chico and Rodolfo Gonzalez finished 2d overall.
Four Turismo Mayor Pan Am cars from the U.S. dropped out of contention quickly. Doug Mockett and Angelica Fuentes, who surprised Henkl last year to win overall, lost their alternator on Day 1.  Paul Hladky and Adrian Gerrit had heating and fueling issues.  Mockett finished in 15th place; Hladky in 9th.  
The silver Turismo Mayor Studebaker of Gerie Bledsoe and Kristin Stewart lost its water pump10 KM into the first speed stage on Day 1.  Another favorite for a top spot, Stewart Robertson, crashed during the pre-qualification run and was out of the event.  It was a bad year for Studebakers!
The top North American finishers were: 5th Paul Fruchbom* and Ray Stephens in a Porsche 911; 6th Tony and Lee-Ann Strelzow in a ’66 Corvette, followed by 7th Ralph Carungi* and Bill Richert, just cruising in their hot rod ’54 Lincoln.  Ralph Christensson,* from Sweden, finished 3d overall and first in Pan Am Historic “C” in a Todd Landon ’65 Mustang. 
Newcomers Bassam Haddad and Marisa Marroquin from Texas finished a very respectable11th their first time out, and were followed by Jake Shuttlesworth and Gil Stewart in 12th.  Chip Fudge and Ray von Schlagter had a fuel problem the second day but managed to finish 14th overall. (*Indicates who should have received a trophy for first in class.)
Bobby Unser, Jr. and Jack Rogers had to retire because of health reasons. And mechanical problems ended the event for three more North American entries:  Michael Sharp and Jon LeCarner; Kaming Ko and Stafford Galen, plus Richard Tomlin and Scott Butler in their Barracuda.  Bledsoe replaced Unser on Day 3, finishing 10th overall for the day in Todd Landon’s ‘89 supercharged Mustang.
Again, the Express was well-managed.  The weather, roads, police, and emergency services were great, as usual.  Above all, there was only one serious crash but no injuries.  Once again, the results demonstrate that quite often the tortoise, not the hare, wins a rally--where finishing is essential.
According to Eduardo “Lalo” Leon, the President Emeritus of La Carrera Panamericana, the event this year will end in the city of Durango, which is around 200 miles northwest of Zacatecas.
The tentative route includes:  Veracruz, Oaxaca, Mexico City/State of Mexico, Morelia, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and Durango.   Queretaro may or may not be added later.
By ending in Durango, the race will follow more of the route of the original Pan Am, 1950-1954, which went from Zacatecas to the city of Durango and then up to Chihuahua City before ending in Cd. Juarez.  (Zacatecas and Durango are the capitals of Mexican states by the same name.).
Durango is a city of over 500,000 inhabitants, located in a valley (1880 meters or 6170 feet high) on the western side of the country.  It is separated from the Sea of Cortes by a mountain range.  The road over the mountains, known as the Backbone of the Devil, is infamous in Mexico.  Whether or not the Pan Am cars will tackle it is yet to be decided.
The climate is semi-arid.  In October, the days should be warm (80 F.) and sunny, while the nights will be cool (48 F.)  There is always the possibility of a little rain in October, too.
The city is known for its cathedral, iron ore, basketball, baseball, and bull fights.  Perhaps the city has a burro to carry around a big jug of mezcal…..after the race ends.
Horacio Chousal has been appointed to handle the route book and timing, while Carlos Cordero will be back as Race Director.  Both managed the Chihuahua Express in April.
Tech and registration for the event will take place in the convention center in Veracruz once again, October 14-16.  It is also possible that one or two speed stages will be planned for the state of Veracruz on Friday morning, October 17, Day 1 of the event.
The list of early entries should be posted soon on the official web site,  May 1 is the end of the discounted or early entry period.  Entries will be considered until late September.
The Pan Office has indicated that the rules for the race cars will be out in May, and there should be few, if any, changes.  Last year, the Organizers approved manual transmissions in models of cars, like Lincolns, Oldsmobiles, and Chryslers, in the Original Pan Am class, that were not available with manual boxes.  The organizers also invited hot rods from the 1930’s to enter in a new class.
If you plan to bring a new car to the event make sure that (1) you understand the rules for the various classes of cars, especially the class you intend to enter, and (2) the car’s roll cage and safety equipment comply with Pan Am rules.  This is especially important if the car ran the Pan Am back in the 1990s.  The safety standards are must higher today.
Four cars from the Czech Republic will be signing up for the event, according to Lalo Leon.  Mr. Leon plans to attend the formal introduction of the team in Prague on June 14.  Some of the drivers will be from the famous Czech crews that campaigned Subarus in the World Rally Championship.
Mr. Haller, 45, the young man from Venice (L.A.), who organized the Unlimited Class for the 2006 Carrera, passed away two weeks ago.  Just before he died, he emailed me about rounding up some Pan Am cars for friends of his.  He was a good friend of the event, an exceptionally nice guy, and friend to many.  A notice was posted on the official LCP web site, as well.
Like other forms of auto sports, open-road rallying in Mexico is dangerous and addictive.
’53 Studebaker. $24,900.  The car is eligible to run in the Original Pan Am class and in vintage events in the U.S.  It has the original (rebuilt) suspension and steering systems, a (fresh) Studebaker engine, Edelbrock carb, fuel cell, twin fuel pumps, plus improvements allowed by the rules:  disk brakes front and rear, aluminum radiator, oil cooler, and electronic ignition.  New Basset rims and Toyo tires.  New OEM frame, eight-point roll cage, current belts, roll-up windows, rally computer, and rust free body.   It needs approved (Kirkey) racing seats and a larger fire bottle.  Titled and located in Wisconsin.  Contact:  Gerie Bledsoe.  More photos are available.


Gerie Bledsoe, North American Coordinator
La Carrera Panamericana and Chihuahua Express
USPS address:  608 Hinman Ave. Unit 1S
     Evanston, Illinois 60202
1-224-999-7292--Home office, Evanston, Illinois
1-650-867-9488 (mobile, only in US)


Carrera HQ, Mexico City 1-310-860-6959 (dial as a U.S. number)
Email general info and registration:
          For entry fee and hotels: