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February 27 , 2010

La Carrera Panamericana

“The Worlds Greatest Road Race!”


The Carrera Panamericana was first run to celebrate the inauguration of the Panamerican Highway, and traversed the length of Mexico, from Tuxtla in the south to Juárez near the Texas border. Firms like Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Porsche took advantage, and as class winners, Porsche even applied the event's Carrera name to its sportier models. Since its 1987 revival, it's been run rally-style with half-a-dozen special stages a day. Just as it did in the early-'50s, half the entry comprises brash American stock cars, today mostly Panamericana specials based on spaceframe chassis and 600bhp NASCAR V8 engines and running gear, lurking beneath period Studebaker, Hudson, Lincoln or Oldsmobile bodywork. The '50s and '60s European classics are no less heavily modified. Mexicans love a fiesta, and the arrival of La Carrera Panamericana at each of the provincial towns on its seven-day, 2000-mile progress through central Mexico last November provided an excuse for wild celebrations. As Johnny Tipler and his co-piloto Sarah Bennett-Baggs experienced when they drove the race in 2011 in a Porsche 914/4, everywhere the entourage is mobbed by enthusiastic spectators, waving, cheering and demanding souvenirs. Crowds throng, brass bands play salsa, and the tequila overflows. Includes over 400 images, maps of the modern and original 1950s routes, plus results of original events.
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