Friday, July 11, 2014

Carrera News
July 9, 2014


Ralf Christensson, a Pan Am and Chihuahua Express veteran, won the Vintage Class at the 92d running of the PPIHC on June 29 with a blazing time, a new record  of 10:46.  Ralf, who is sedish, was driving a specially prepared ’67 Mustang provided by Todd Landon.  He also finished 27th overall.

Second place in Vintage went to Chris Lennon in a ’73 Porsche 911 with a time of 11:01.  Lennon had been a bit faster than Christensson in the qualifying runs, but could not keep up the pace in the final “Race to the Clouds” on Sunday.

Another Swede, Magnus Widen, driving another Todd Landon Pan Am Mustang, finished third in class with a time of 11:56.  The third vintage Mustang in the class, driven by Gerie Bledsoe, developed transmission problems and was DNF.  The car and driver did manage to finish, however, practice and qualifying runs on all three sections of the 12.6 mile course, including three runs to the summit.

The overall PPIHC champion this year was Romain Dumas in 9:05.8, far off the spectacular record of 8:13.8 set by Sebastian Loeb last year.  Six-time champion and former record-holder Tajima finished 4th (9:43:9), driving his all-electric “monster” car.  The electric cars practices with the Vintage Class, which was more than interesting.

A video of Ralf’s run is available at:


Attached is the official poster for the 8th Annual Carreras Festival in conjunction with the Monterrey historic races at the Baja Cantina, 7166 Carmel Valley Rod (just past The Quail Lodge).  The Fiesta is an opportunity for veterans and fans of rallying in Mexico to get together, kick tires, tell old stories, and raise some money for “Los Amigos de Lupita Hernandez.”  

Lupita is the Mexican nurse who lost both legs at the hit when a Pan Am car went off the road near Tuxtla Gutierrez and pinned her against an ambulance.  “Los Amigos” have supported her for 12 years now, providing her a house, wheel chair, computer, vocational training, start-up funds for a micro-business, and a modest monthly stipend.

Tickets are $30 ahead of time and $35 at the door.  An excellent Mexican buffet will be served at 5:30.  Family and friends are invited, of course.  Proceeds go to “Los Amigos de Lupita Hernandez.”  Contributions in cash or check will be greatly appreciated.

You are encouraged to bring your Pan Am or other exotic automobile to the Cantina, but we can guarantee only 6 parking spots up close, so if you want to reserve a spot, contact our gracious host Bill Hemmer at  Bill is a real estate broker in Carmel.


At last count there were 59 entries posted on the official Pan Am web site, a number that lags last year’s somewhat.  The organizers report having over seventy entries in the pipeline, but they are having trouble getting the entries posted on the web site. 

Popular classes include:  Historic B (16 signed up, mostly Porsche 911s), Historic C (15, of course, Mustangs rule!), Historic A Plus (7), Turismo Mayor (8), and Turismo Production (7).  Entries are needed in Turismo Mayor (0), Turismo Menor (1), Historic A (3), Original Pan Am (2).  Heck, if you just finish the race in some of these classes, you will celebrate on the podium.

After two or three years of over-subscription, LCP entries fell last year to 85.  At this year’s current rate, it seems like the final number will be about the same.  This is good news, perhaps, for competitors because it means less traffic jams at the timing check-points, but it also means that we will miss seeing old friends and meeting  new ones.

So, pull that Gullwing out of the barn, clean off the bird poop, change the oil, and bring it down to race this year.  Remember, this race is about having epic fun.  Most cars, even reproductions, are welcome up to 1972 models, in some classes.  Rumor has it that we will see our first Trans-Am Camaro this year in Historic C (watch out Mules).   

Remember, too, that the technical inspectors are more concerned with safety than originality, so make sure the Organizers approve your roll cage design, in particular, before you sign up.
Remember, too, there is an Exhibition Class for cars that do not fit into a regular class.  A certain ’49 Caddy with a blown LS7 Corvette engine has been known to enroll in this class.

Need help signing up?  Give me a call in Chicago at two 92.


Clearly and without a doubt, this is one of the best road races in the world, maybe the best, but for some reason it is under-subscribed.   Why so good?  It’s Close to the US.  1000 miles in three days.  Beautiful mountain roads.  Excellent, dry weather.  Lunch over the famous Copper Canyon.  Great organization.  Generous local support.  Police and ambulance resources the entire route.  Same hotel and paddock each night. Reasonably priced. 

Not up to driving at full speed just yet?  Try the Express out at 70 MPH in the Chihuahua Tour, a time-to-distance rally for half the competition price.  Is there a down side?  It’s only three days, I suppose.
Come down next year and check it out.  It’s also a great warm up for the Pan Am.


Lauri Menditto, a license plate artist from Washington, DC, has contacted CARRERA NEWS to announce that she recently purchased a bunch of license plates, including a plate from the fifth and final Pan Am race in 1954.  The plate is from the car driven by Alfonso de Portago of Spain.   
The plate is too valuable to use in her artwork, so Lauri would like to sell the plate to a Pan Am collector and make a donation to our non-profit, Los Amigos de Lupita, upon completion of the sale. 

Alfonso de Portago led an adventurous life.  He twice was a jockey on horses at The Grand National Steeplechase in England, won a bronze medal in the two-man bobsled, and at the age of 17 flew a plane under a bridge to win a $500 bet!  The plate appears to be authentic, but CARRERA NEWS has no way to establish that as a fact.

The plate will go to the highest bidder.  The minimum starting bid is $1250 USD.  Bidding will be open for 10 days from the date of this email and end at 5 PM, Eastern time.  Plates like this have gone for over $3000 on eBay.

You can send your bids or questions to Lauri at


Want to find or rent a Pan Am race car?   Need a co-driver, navigator, truck driver, or mechanic?  Want to fill one of these positions?  Please let me know immediately, as I am receiving calls about filling spots on teams more frequently, as October approaches.  I have one driver who needs a co-driver, and one experience driver who is looking for a car or a team to join.

There are four shops in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico that rent and/or support Pan Am and Chihuahua Express cars.  Todd Landon up in Minnesota provides the  “Mustangs to Go” now of Pikes Peak fame.
Got a Carrera car for sale?  Advertise here, two NEWS editions for a $40 contribution to “Los Amigos de Lupita Hernandez” c/o Doug Mockett in Los Angeles.  We have sold three cars advertised here already this year.


Like most forms of motor sports, La Carrera Panamericana is dangerous.  Make sure that your car is properly prepared, especially for safety, and driven prudently.

Worried about public safety in Mexico?  Not so much.  In my sixteen years racing and living in Mexico, I have never seen or heard of an act of violence or crime against a rally competitor.  Don’t let the US media keep LCP and the Express off your bucket list.  Come on down.  You will never forget it.


Gerie Bledsoe, North American Coordinator
La Carrera Panamericana and Chihuahua Express
Chicago(Evanston) two 92.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 650-525-nine one 90

LCP Main Office
Mexico City +52-55-5586-6898
US Number 1-310-860-6959 (entries, general info)  (hotels and entry fees)

Chihuahua Express
Chacho Medina, President