Final Day. Zacatecas to Durango.

These lyrics of 9th and Hennepin by Tom Waits sort of sum up the day for me:
…And the rooms all smell like diesel
And you take on the
Dreams of the ones who have slept here.
And I’m lost in the window
I hide on the stairway
I hang in the curtain
I sleep in your hat
And no one brings anything
Small into a bar around here.
They all started out with bad directions…

The lovely gents who went off the road yesterday rode to Durango in the Duster with Jeremy and Sean today. Matt and I were supposed to lead…with bad directions, which affected all decisions having to do with directions, to the service and possibly a speed section. Seems like major punishment, but Hans and Anders were super gentlemen about it. Somehow, my instinct for direction was bass akward, all due to sleep deprivation.
The hotel in Zacatecas boasted Wifi, displayed a confident connection, but sucked, it was fake, completely fake. Haven’t decided what is worse yet, the hotel in DF that charges for Internet by the hour, or the hotel with fake Internet.
Rain again in the still dark morning.
As we headed out of town we were graced by the most beautiful sunrise.

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And a full rainbow, perhaps a double?

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We missed everything. Speed section and service, the road was closed and there was not a chance to penetrate the police barrier, I tried. So we headed back to Durango and caught the race cars arriving to the finish arch.
Erik Comas, the former Formula 1 driver won after Emilio Velazquez went off in a speed section, thrusting our friends Doug Mockett and his wonderful navigator, Angelica Fuentes (who also performed a mechanical fix on their alternator the day before) into second place.

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As always, this race never fails to amaze me. Each year we meet more wonderful people and our bond with those we have met in previous years gets stronger. Although you are hammered physically and emotionally from the intensity of it all, and think you may want a year off, forget it, you always will come back for more. Caution! This is highly addictive.
Our aim is to return with the Alfa El Platillo Volador next year. Till then, shiny side up!

Day Six. Guanajuato to Zacatecas.

Today we drove to the service stop in La Congoja before ending in Zacatecas. It is a very small town perched on the top of a mountain with a population of three hundred (a figure I overheard only). I have been there before and what I remember most of this town is the exuberance of the children.

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Before the race cars arrive, we have plenty of time to greet our friends who feel like family this particular week in October every year. This is Sean’s first time in Mexico, and as many of us dog lovers, he too, is torn by the street dogs and puppies…so he bought a bag of dog food to feed the ones he encounters. This is the first guy.

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The main street of this town was lined with service vehicles, pop ups, jack stands, jacks, tools, lunch tables, and ready mechanics anticipating the needs of their cars and drivers. It is really interesting to watch the choreography of each teams action of service. Each car pretty much begins its service oeuvre by getting jacked up onto stands and wheels off.
Having an hour to kill once the drivers and navigators arrived, I remembered that I’d brought a stack of 24 hours of LeMons stickers to give away, and gave myself the task of ‘LeMonsing’ up some of the front runners.

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On our way down the mountain after all race cars had departed for La Bufa, an impressive mountain that commands a presence in the landscape of Zacatecas, we came across a Ford Falcon off the side of the road. Driver and copilot were fine.

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<img src="http://scuderiadiscovolantedotcom.files.

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Kids lined the streets scrambling to pick up candy teams threw for them.

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Then we entered Zacatecas. Woohoo! It is hard to not have the final night here.

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We made fast friends with photographers Beco and Manuel and the lovely Maria when we cut them off while driving on the highway. Once we got to a gas station and Beco was prepared to serve us our asses in Spanish, English, Italian, German, or French…well, our friendship began!

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Day Five. Morelia to Guanajuato.

Last nights deluge, complete with thunder, lightning and a foot and a half of water flooding the streets, was a bit of a concern for what the climate might be today. Finding a Starbucks on the way out of town was the beginning of a lucky day.
The morning speed section of La Casacada was in our crosshairs for action filming and photography. Plan after that was to head to the service stop in Silao at the Expo Center to catch some mechanical prowess in action.
Another lucky and much appreciated bit is that the race start was scheduled for 9am. WooHoo! That extra hour of sleep is a psychological magic bean.
Cloud formations today were ESPECTACULAR!

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After driving up and down La Cascada, we settled on a spot that worked for all of us near a couple of houses, especially after borrowing a machete to do some ‘filandscaping’, bush whacking for our filming visions.

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Just before the cars began the stage, a Federale in a Charger pulled over to ask us not to let the people living in the houses to drive out onto the road. Since we’d already started borrowing their driveway and gardening equipment, saving their lives was the least we could do.
The familiar ‘Estud’ sounds screaming up the road, lead way to the following cars into our view finders. Oh, I forgot to mention, AND the livestock having breakfast on the side of the road and the neighbors curious pups checking out the gringo gardeners.

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After the Sweeper car passed us, we packed up ad back tracked to the highway heading to the service stop in Silao, stopping for some photos to share the incredible beauty of Mexico’s landscapes. AND we found a surfboard at the bottom of a waterfall, go figure. Surf’s up!

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Day Four. Toluca to Morelia.

Today we watched the racers leave Toluca headed towards Chapa de Mota speed stages and met them again at the service stop in Atlacomulco. Weather seemed good and everyone looked like they were in fine form. It is late so I will post photos of all the wonderful people who participate in La Carrera Panamericana, as you will see, the energy is all good!

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After the service stop, we drove by a couple of beautiful lakes on the way to Morelia for the finishing arch.

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I will have to add more, later. I am dead tired , and I still have to talk about the dreadful storm.

Day Three. Distrito Federal to Toluca.

After leaving the underground gas chamber of a parking garage at our hotel, Presidente Intercontinental, this morning in Mexico City, we made our way out of town, thanks to Google maps, to a colorful row of restaurants lined up the side of the freeway. We ate breakfast tacos with another film crew of awesome guys working with our friend Tomas Lopez Rocha in a Studebaker.
Edgar Fuentes, drove by with a train of cars following him to Toluca. We hitched our two rides to his caravan…ALL aboard!
Today’s speed stages took place in the national park of Nevado de Toluca, an inactive volcano, very reminiscent of areas in Lake Tahoe, with pines and COLD!!!! weather…but alas, no rain for most of it.
We hung out with friends we only see at this time of the year and met new ones. Some crafty gourmets brought cooking gear and shared it with us. My favorite day so far….until, unbeknownst to us, these great shots we took of the cars racing through, came with a bugger of a price.
Please enjoy these photos taken today on two of the speed stages. Apparently, while we were in the woods taking them, we were being bitten by flesh eating spiders.

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Once the race cars passed us and headed to their service stop, we had approximately 40 mins to search for the next photo place where we could feed more spiders. During this time, fans were cooking up a storm!

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The federales started giving signals as they carved through the corners in their Challengers. And the next stage began.

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Tomorrow we head to Morelia and Mil Cumbres (one thousand turns) and a visit to my old stomping ground with all my service peeps! Woohoo! Got a nap today and had time to fix the sleep blogging edits I made! Till tomorrow!

Day Two. Oaxaca to Distrito Federal with buckets of rain.

The rains came down and just kept coming…
Woah! Hats off to all drivers, and I mean ALL! Especially those we blasted past in Mexico City as we bullied our way in the police escort to the historical town center.
I am getting ahead of myself.
It was raining when we left Oaxaca, sleep deprived, again. At least we had some caffeine in our systems this morning at 7:30am. It poured all the way to the service stop that served breakfast. Unfortunately, we got stuck at a race road closure for the race cars turning onto their wet mornIng speed stages.
Breakfast was good with the crew and drivers and we set out to go to the speed stage after. We drove on a muddy pot holed road to Nochixtlan where the race cars were to take off for the 3rd speed section. Once getting there, we learned that we missed a few of the first cars that started.

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We turned around after the cars left for the speed section and took off down the same as muddy road we had just driven. What a sloppy mess! Another day for wet clothes and shoes!
We headed to Tehuacan, to just get stuck again waiting for road to clear. Fortunately, there was a large, lively and super encouraging crowd, in spite of the foul weather.

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We headed to Mexico City, stopping for coffee to amp up for our police escort that would take us to the town center.

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We made it here and there was hope for sun, but it never broke through the pouring rain. It was so stressful and tiring. Tomorrow we head for Toluca…for more rain and cars.

Day One. Veracruz to Oaxaca

After four hours of sleep, we headed out this morning for the first speed stage of Cumbres de Acultzingo…at 6:30 am. The weather was overcast and the clouds seemed to be full of water. This speed stage was canceled last year due to rain, and it was looking like it may happen again. The drive to this stage felt like a two-ish hour drive and a few of us coffee addicts were looking like casualties of a day that barely began.
We headed up the mountain to find a good location to photograph. And we were pleased to find a spot overlooking this serpentine road with the craziest of arrow road markings I have ever seen! I wasn’t quite sure the arrows were pointing in different directions, until cars and trucks coming down the hill, were driving on the other side of the street through the turns.

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After a pretty lengthy wait alongside Carrera fans, who’d found their spots along the road, well before we arrived, the road closure became evident and the race cars began their ascent, beginning with Hillaire Damiron in his ‘El Commander’ Studebaker, who had finished first in Qualifying.

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Paul Hladky and Adrian Gerrits sounded amazing coming up the mountain.

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Doug Mokkett and Angelica Fuentes, cut through the in coming fog with a note that sends shivers through your body.

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Our good friends Taz Harvey and Rudy Vajdak shredding it!

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After this speed stage, we made our way to Oaxaca to the arch, but instead found another student teacher strike, and battled our way through traffic to its new location on the Mirador, a major artery into Oaxaca, that boasts a spectacular view we, sadly missed due to rain.

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Drivers meeting took place at the Quinta Real Hotel, built by the Spanish in 1500s as a convent. Wish I had time to get into the history we heard about it but, will re edit this later!

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Gotta run! Going to Mexico City!

Qualifying on Paso de Ovejas, Veracruz

We kicked off early this morning at 6am, found a Starbucks that would have been better off closed because the only coffee available to purchase was in the stupid frappucino form…but we guzzled them down anyway. Anything to put off the inevitable affair with the ridiculously sweet OXXO coffee for at least one day.
First of seven Mexican sunrises to tag along with us as we made our way to the closed speed section on Paso de Ovejas through waking towns and brutal reminders of the marked and many times unmarked ‘topes’ waking our crew up a little bit more each time we careen over them or slam on brakes to avoid.

Traveling with Jeremy, Sean Fannon and Rene Ortega Ranachilanga as ‘Prensa’, photographing and filming as many aspects as possible of this Carrera. A real treat for me as I have mostly experienced the service crew side of this fantastic race!
We found a good spot and got to work setting up shots.

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Since Sean was camouflaged with the road and low to the ground for cool perspectives, we asked these kind colorful people to stand behind him for his safety. They incredibly were willing to do it!
We could hear the first cars approaching and would continue to hear their motors growl up the hill for the next mile. It is on!

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After qualifying, we headed back to Veracruz to the World Trade Center where all the cars had gone through tech and safety inspections. Super fun meeting up with all our friends and checking out the cars.

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This evening’s event was the ceremonial driving of cars through the starting arch. It was well attended and the energy was exciting, as you see in these faces.

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We even made new friends!

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Wheels turning tomorrow morning at 6am! Below is link to qualifying results! Suerte!
http://www.lacarrerapanamericana.com.mx/images/contenidos/documentos/resultados/2014/resultados-clasificacion-dia-0.pdf

SFO-VER

El Platillo Volador will be sitting out this Carrera so that Conrad can wrap his head around the fact that as of 3:30 this morning, he became a gramps! His beautiful daughter, Raven and her partner Christopher, brought us our first grandson!
I will post a photo as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, I am presently on my way to Veracruz to the incio of La Carrera Panamericana to meet up with Jeremy Heslup, a super talented filmmaker who recently produced a short video interview with Conrad for Petrolicious.com, to assist gathering footage and photos of this year’s Carrera.

http://www.petrolicious.com/alfa-romeo-sprint-speciale-is-a-racing-statement

We met Jeremy this year when he was debuting a documentary he filmed last year at La Carrera. Here is teaser:

http://valkyrproductions.com/2014/la-carrera/

I will continue posting on this blog I started last year. I hope you enjoy it!