Enjoying the Moment

“Did you find what you wanted?” my brother-in-law asks.

“Did I find what I wanted?” I retort laughingly. “I didn’t go to La Carrera Panamericana to find something I want, I went to enjoy something I love!”

It’s a hard concept to explain and even harder for people to understand why anyone would find joy in little sleep, hard work, long, strenuous days driving across the countryside, and plunking down pesos for entrance to a banos that is unclean, unkempt, and the TP garnered is from your own supply! But, those are only minor inconveniences.

2008 Aguacalientes

2008 Aguacalientes

How do you explain the thrill of seeing friends in their vintage racecars coming through yet another arrival arch and knowing the trials and tribulations it took them to get there? The well-wishes, the camaraderie, the knowledge that you get to drive really, really fast along country roads in a vehicle that was made for yesteryear. Enjoying the sights and sounds of a country that in some ways is so advanced and in others, so rural that it is hard to comprehend the lifestyle.

Auguacalientes Zocolo

Auguacalientes Zocolo

Is it possible to share the delight of having a beer or two in the town square where hundreds of onlookers and fans gather to wish you well and to thank YOU for coming to their country? Where kids want a Kodak moment in front of their favorite racecar or vie for an autograph on one of its postcards?

And then…, in the quieter moments of the late evening after the driver’s meeting is over and done with and the mechanical aspects of the racecar are satisfactory – the bench racing and daily stories come to the forefront and laughter erupts until tears hit the floor.


My allegiances were sorely tested this weekend….

ChumpCar PIR_OctobrewNBrats

ChumpCar World Series

Currently, in a part-time capacity, I handle the registration for ChumpCar World Series West Region. A grand show, conjured up at Portland International Raceway, played havoc with my allegiance to La Carrera Panamericana. Both LCP and ChumpCar were placing the starting grid squarely on the same day. While Rene followed along with LCP (his photos are scrolling on the front page), I got involved with some pretty cool cats.

Octobrew ‘n Brats Grand Prix. ChumpCar World Series at PIR

Daryl Dyer (Captain of Team GI SHO) has been a long time racer and podium placer with the series. He, with his camouflaged 1989 Ford Taurus, is moving on… some say to SCCA… And, this weekend would be his last endurance race with the ChumpCar World Series.

As the world turns, GI SHO was pretty much dead in the water by late afternoon in Saturday’s 12 hour race. Cathy McCause (West Region’s ChumpCar Director) talked with Daryl. “So…, you’re saying you have another race car available?”

Daryl Dyer & FrankenSHO, Team #89

Seeds were planted and the growth factor, exponential!

Daryl and crew worked ’round the clock until 3am on Sunday. Here they appear on the tarmac at 8:45am; GI SHO door panels fully engaged, ready to race in the EC class for the next 6 hours!

Forty-eight teams registered and lots of newbies adorned this PIR event.

Sunshine and a dry track greeted us on Saturday, but it was a misty, moisty, morning come Sunday….

Lost tyre? Have jack? Will travel…
PIR ChumpCar World Series

The best part, for me, is what occurred in the pits. One team, Team Titleist #26 had not one, not two, but three engine change outs over the course of this incredible endurance weekend. The last engine was “borrowed” from Shift AutoSports who races two teams #71 & #70, and, coincidentally, won the endurance race on Sunday, 173 laps, Best lap time: 1:38.487.


Sunday My Laps: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/2919800

Saturday My Laps: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/2918194

Now, that’s the way to race!

Lots of fabulous spirit and goodwill.

Seems my dilemna is unfounded. That little El Spiritu de La Carrera crosses borders!

Mark Scholtz, Octobrew ‘n Brats Grand Prix
#128 Die Familie, ChumpCar World Series PIR

LCP Co-piloto Mantra

The mantra for the next week:GERIE BLEDSOE GTO 2011

“’A’ time plus your ‘section time’ equals your ‘Z’ (or ‘CH’) time.”

Gerie Bledsoe (U.S. coordinator for La Carrerra Panamericana and the Chihuahua Express) says “Add 15 seconds to your CH time to get the perfect time to enter your control zone.”

It’s Dia Uno!


Co-pilot Instructions!
Day 1, Speed Stage 1



End of Speed Stage 1
Turn in Time Card to Officials
Get it Back and Transit to the Next Stage! 🙂



Tidbits and Tales to the beginnings of an adventure….,

Sierra Madres
Road to Oaxaca

Recollections from LCP 2008

You know you are far from home when the plane lands and then makes a 360 degree turn to taxi along the same runway it landed on.  As the plane slowly returns to the terminal, you frantically scan the horizon for flying headlights and pray to God you’ll make it home safely.

You realize and appreciate the safety of roll cages in La Carrera cars after you experience a 30 kilometer drive at night in a local Tuxtla-Gutierrez taxi cab. After passing 12 cars and trucks on the road, you quit counting and stare out the side window so the anxiety rising in your throat can be quieted by the humid air and familial sights taking place in this beautiful country of Mexico. Just sigh and leave the rally car racing to the taxi cab driver.


Chiapas Fairgrounds prepping for 2008 La Carrera Panamericana!

You meet your Servicio crew mate waiting at the door of the motel. “You, Marcia? he asks. “Yes,” I reply with a smile. “Thought so,” is the simple return, and we nod to each other’s appraisal that we will work well together.

The next day, you’ve joined your crew.


GT Racer film crew

At the fair grounds where the vintage racecars are staged, you get to walk around and view those cars that send tingles up your spine and those cars that make you smile.

Compadres arrive with wide-eyes of surprise and well-wishes. New and interesting people abound and everyone is prepping for the greatest endurance race in North America.

Dia 2, 2008 La Carrera Panamericana outside Oaxaca

Race Day: You know you have left the comforts of your country and have begun an exceptional adventure when, on the first day of the race, you stop at a Pemex gas station to use the facilities and give some of your pesos to another woman who has none. As she readies to leave, she thanks you for your help and, in a heavily accented voice, introduces herself as Mrs. Stig Blomquist!


Viva La Carrera Panamericana!!!

Unwritten Rule

Spirit LCP_2One of the things I look forward to in La Carrera Panamerica is its spirit. It is an unwritten rule, this “El Espiritu de La Carrera.” You see its icon on the website – –  that little ghost spirit moving across the screen with its thumb out?

The rule is…, if you see someone on the road in need, you stop and lend a helping hand or provide a ride. Screw the race results; forget your overwhelming need to win. You stop and you help out, no matter how much time is lost.

It’s that simple.

It’s that cool!

What’s the Draw?

Many feel they are meant to win. Or, they are sponsored to win. They don’t put in all this time, effort, or money to take a back seat. The desire is to win! It’s the premiere motivating factor.

Gerie’s ’64 Nova and Mustang on oval
Courtesy Ranachilanga Photography

Others arrive for the love of a historic road race, to take a chance, to meet with racing enthusiasts the world over, to duke it out with the elements, to refresh friendships, to compete with the best, to make contacts for business and pleasure, to see the entire breadth of an incredible country and the warmth of its people, to spend horrendous amounts of money in hopes of keeping their historic race car on the road and finishing La Carrera Panamericana.

It is an adventure, plain and simple.

You’ve got to understand that and take the good with the bad and make the best of what is dealt you.

It takes tenacity, resourcefulness, good will, thoughtful process, a tremendous amount of energy, skill, and the acceptance of very little sleep.

2011 Gregory's Orig PanAm Courtesy Ranachilanga

2011 Gregory’s Orig PanAm
Courtesy Ranachilanga Photography

Is it worth it?

You decide for yourself.

While the race teams ….,

get ready to roll!

Where Do They Come From?


Pierre de Thoisy 2007
Tehuacan_Puebla Stage 2

Competitors arrive from all over the world relishing the opportunity to race in La Carrera Panamericana.

In this 26th Anniversary of La Carrera Panamericana, teams represent  Mexico, U.S.A., Canada, France, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia. Some crews pack up their vintage car and drive it over 6,000 miles to participate in the hopes that they make the return trip. Others ship their car from Europe or Australia and arrive with bags in the trunk ready to drive the line each day, and succeed to a podium finish.

People come to challenge themselves, to take pleasure in the moment, and to drive really, really, fast.


Stig Blomquist 2008
Tuxtla-Gutierrez to Oaxaca Stage 1

This year the race route extends from its southern commencement point in the port city of Veracruz to its terminus in Zacatecas. It’s a seven-day, 3,093 kilometers endurance test of vintage race cars, their drivers and co-drivers, and their crew. It is not for the faint of heart, but serious business with a twist.

Although, a purse and trophy did exist in the 1950 to 1954 races, there are no longer monetary gains to be made; only bragging rights. And, those rights have fallen to a select few over the years.

(Results courtesy of Wikipedia)

La Carrera Panamericana Overall Winners: 1950 to 1954

Year Winning Driver Entrant Car Time
1950 Hershel McGriffRay Elliot Roy Sundstrom (U.S.A.) Olds 88 27:34:25
1951 Piero Taruffi
Luigi Chinetti
Centro Deportivo Italiano Ferrari 212 21:57:52
1952 Karl Kling
Hans Klenk
Daimler-Benz AG (Germany) Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 18:51:19
1953 Juan Manual Fangio
Gino Bronzoni
Scuderia Lancia (Italy) Lancia D24 Pinin Farina 18:11:00
1954 Umberto Maglioli Erwin Goldschmidt Ferrari 375 Plus Pinin Farina 17:40:26

La Carrera Panamericana Overall Winners: 1988 to 2012

Year Piloto Co-piloto Country Auto
1988 Eduardo Morales Gael Rodriguez Mexico Ford
1989 Guillermo Rojas Alberto Rojas, Jr Mexico Mercury
1990 Alain de Cadenet Gordon Currie UK Jaguar
1991 John Ward Shirley Ward U.S.A. Kurtis
1992 Peter Frank Mark Williams U.S.A. Mercury
1993 Carlos Anaya Eduardo Rodriguez Mexico Studebaker
1994 Carlos Anaya Eduardo Rodriguez Mexico Studebaker
1995 Kevin Ward Kimberlee Augustine U.S.A. Studebaker
1996 Carlos Anaya Eduardo Rodriguez Mexico Studebaker
1997 Pierre de Thoisy Philippe Lemoine France Studebaker
1998 Pierre de Thoisy Jean-Pierre Gontier France Studebaker
1999 Pierre de Thoisy Jacques Tropenat France Studebaker
2000 Pierre de Thoisy Jacques Tropenat France Studebaker
2001 Pierre de Thoisy Carlos Macaya France/Costa Rica Studebaker
2002 Dave Mockett Alan Baillie U.S.A./UK Oldsmobile
2003 Pierre de Thoisy Pierr Schockaert France/Germany Studebaker
2004 Juan Carlos Sarmiento Raúl Villareal Mexico Studebaker
2005 Juan Carlos Sarmiento Raúl Villareal Mexico Studebaker
2006 Gabriel Pérez Angelica Fuentes Mexico Ford
2007 Pierre de Thoisy Frédéric Stoesser France Studebaker
2008 Bill Beilharz Jorge Ceballos U.S.A./Mexico Studebaker
2009 Stig Blomquist Ana Goñi Boracco Sweden/Venezuela Studebaker
2010 Harri Rovanperä Jouni Närhi Finland Studebaker
2011 Richard Trivino Marco Hernández Mexico Studebaker
2012 Gabriel Pérez Ignacio Rodríguez Mexico Studebaker

The race is run in a pro-rally format. This year the transit sections total 2,518 km and speed sections 576 km. Twenty Mexican Federales’ cars and their hand-picked drivers close off the roads so the special speed stages, which occur throughout the day, can be run safely and, at times, without incidence. Transit sections between the speed stages may require drive times up to 2 hours. The longest transit section is usually saved for the final day. This is where nerves fray and head gaskets blow.


What is time?

A moment?

An era?

Is it documented by experience? Transcended by desire?

Does it stop, ever? Or, maybe just slow down?

Why do we put up with it?

Does Time measure our worth?

Or, create a challenge for the competitive nature of the human spirit?

Race Cars are Starting to Rumble

And, blogs are starting to roll…,

www.blogranachilanga.tk    Rene has been hard at work in the past few months getting plans together to run the race route, photographing and documenting all the wonderful places and the fabulous times this historical race can bring. Definitely, another blog you want to have in your repertoire and bookmark. You can also follow him on Twitter (Rene Ortega@Ranachilanga) and FaceBook.

www.martinstaxi.com    Perusing through the list of participants last night, it was great to see El Taxi Perdido racing with a host of other Alfa’s in the Histόrica A+ class. They are a well-loved team and have a growing fan base within the US and Mexico. Follow along in their travels and adventures through El Taxi Perdido’s Blog posts. Be sure to bookmark them and check back often.

http://www.applefarmerracing.com/   Apple Farmer Racing is one of my two favorite race cars and teams from the NW! Running a beautiful red apple ’53 Studebaker in Turismo de Producciόn this year, I have no doubt crew mate Steve Berry plans to spin a good yarn or two and provide beautiful photos of his team’s travails along the way.

http://www.funksterwtf.blogspot.com/   Kristin’s indomitable spirit flows through her writing and keeps us apprised of the “never a routine day” in La Carrera Panamericana. She’ll be part and parcel to Team #11’s quest for the podium in the tough running Turismo de Producciόn class.

http://wheeled-and-rolling.blogspot.com/   Jorge’s got a pension and passion for rally racing and it shows in his blogs. No doubt he’ll be keeping us well-informed about this year’s La Carrera Panamericana. Bookmark his blog or run an RSS feed so you don’t miss out!

http://www.datsunpanamericana.blogspot.com/  A team that runs close to my heart in their love for all things Datsun. Francisco aptly handles a Datsun 510 in the Histόrica A + class. It’ll be fierce competition with a number of Alfa’s, Porsche’s and one lone Volvo. Keep tabs on this blog to keep your competitive juices flowing!

http://www.lscheller.blogspot.com/  The great High Speed Bull Shippers are ready for another round in La Carrera Panamericana. Lauren performs a tremendous and skillful job, being co-piloto for her Dad during the day in their Original PanAm class Ford Victoria, and super adept blogger at night. It is no small feat to put in those hours. Follow along as she keeps us informed about her racing escapades through great content and photographs.

http://panamrace.blogspot.com/ The Silver Fox has the honor of being piloted by Gerie Bledsoe with his exceptional co-piloto El Fer. They make for one fantastic team! A beautiful silver Studebaker is their ride of choice through this year’s La Carrera Panamericana. It places them squarely in the Turismo de Producciόn class which has, by far, the most variety of historic cars in this year’s race. Studebaker, Jaguar, Volvo, Ford and JL Holden are all represented well.