Saturday, 27 October 2012

Final day of La Carrera Panamericana 2012

San Luis de Potosí to Zacatecas

Doug Mockett and Angelica Fuentes most certainly adhered to his previous quote and dominated the race on Day Six into San Luis de Potosí, placing first overall for the day. This definitely sobered up the drivers of the two cars leading up until this day and let them know he wasn't that far behind either of them.
After hearing his car roar by several times I am sure he is intimidating to have in the rearview mirror. Having Angelica by his side, a fiercely competitive and strategic navigator calling all the corners, which they both took time to drive before the race began and having made her own notes of each day's course, Doug has what it takes to win this race.
Another major artery of the Mockett-Fuentes team, is his crew, Phil and Oscar. I have seen these two perform the equivalent of open heart surgery on the Olds on a couple of historic streets of Mexico (cobbled stones) into the early hours of the next day to keep them in the race.

Milena and I set out early in the morning to shoot the first stage leaving SLP. We headed out before sunrise reminding me of the silent calm of many mornings crewing for the Taxi.

High desert is one of the many climates in Mexico, which is where we went for our shoot. We met Sue Wendt from upstate New York in SLP last night. She had been traveling with the crew for the sweet two tone green Lincoln and we offered her new scenery away from the parking lots and service stops. She came with us this morning to the speed stage we would stalk and billy goated up the hill with us. Fortunately, no machetes for landscaping projects or shovels for cow patties were needed, just good hiking shoes and an attentiveness for spotting snakes in our path up a steep gravel hill above a cliff.

This last day consists of about five speed stages with the final stages taking place on La Bufa, an impressive rock mountain that offered Pancho Villa a place from where he took the city of Zacatecas from insurgents.

As mentioned earlier, thousands of spectators show up to watch the race and they stand in the most dangerous places on the road where cars can reach very high speeds. Most racers know that racing through these areas is risky and choose to chill out, but a few racers see this as an opportunity to gain time regardless of the risk.

A couple of cars crashed today, no reports of injuries. Unfortunately, first time to La Carrera Panamericana, driver Brock Weidner from Alaska, who drove his Porsche 914 from San Antonio all the way down to the start in Veracruz, had a heart attack on La Bufa while lining up for the last stage and died. He told other participants in Veracruz that competing in this race had been a lifelong dream.

As the cars drive through the finishing arch in the historical center of Zacatecas, many locals show up to greet and photograph the cars, ask the drivers for autographs, pose for pictures and show their appreciation and excitement for the event. The streets are packed and drivers and navigators drink beer and celebrate surviving another Carrrera.

This is a very good spectator event. There are miles and miles of roads here to watch the race with parties at every finishing arch with the locals of each city.There is pure unadulterated passion for motorsports, stories, famous drivers from all over the world sharing the passion, delicious foods and a variety of drinks...but best of all, are the Mexican people.

Then comes the callejoneada! It is going to sound absurd and bizarre when I describe it, but it all starts with a dude and his donkey carrying a couple of clay jars filled with mezcal. The dude hands out little clay sippy cups on ribbons which you hang from your neck. As people are throwing back shots of this shine, drums, horns, a somewhat elaborate dance step to the hooting and music moves the growing crowd through narrow walkways and streets to the old bullring that is now a hotel. The closing awards banquet for La Carrera Panamericana takes place here in the center of the ring where many bullfights took place.

It is a bittersweet evening as we say farewell to all the friends we only see this time of the year and for this event and the new friends we'd love to have more time to get to know.

First place overall went to Gabriel Perez and Ignacio Rodriguez in the Studebaker.

Second place overall went to Emilio Velazquez and Elizabeth Tejada in the Studebaker.

Third place overall went to Doug Mockett and Angelica Fuentes. It must be mentioned that Doug and Angelica won first in their class again today. Hats off to you for the relentless pressure and perseverance you displayed!

Fourth place overall went to Hilaire Damiron and Horacio Chousal in El Buick. Felicitations!

Linda and Stewart Robertson got 5th place overall in their Studebaker! Sweet job, you guys!

Taz and Rudy got Eighth place overall in their Datsun 510! Apparently, there is now a growing market for these boxy little cars in La Carrera community! Congrats you guys!

Here is the link for the Day Seven standings:

And the Final Absoluto overall standings:

The real winners of this event are really all who started AND finished AND had the most fun!

Thank you for following this blog. As frustrating as this site has been to use and navigate, we still appreciate having a way of bringing you with us through this most fun event. Although, this is the post for last day, I will be adding photos and links to videos we shot on the speed stages.
Major thanks go out to Taz for twisting my arm to join their team this year, to Conrad for encouraging me to go, to Rudy for lending me a professional camera for all the speed shots, to Milena for becoming a wonderful, fast, new friend who never swears but can navigate like no ones business, to all the organizers of La Carrera who work so hard before, during and after the event, Lalo, Monica, Karen, Gaby, Victor y Victor, Alejandro, Javier, Eduardo and Enrique, and last but not least, the people who make this such an amazing party...You all know who you are! I love you!

Your dedicated reporters:

Christine Rotolo and Milena Harvey


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