Final day. Zacatecas to Durango.

After a really late night drivers meeting in the amazing bullring turned hotel Quinta Real, drivers and service crews could look forward to the grueling day ahead which started off with a four hour transit to Durango. Both groups anxious for different reasons, drivers anticipating El Espinazo del Diablo, the Devils spine, speed stages, and the crews planning their route to the service stop before the road is closed by the federales.

Just before retiring, Dave took a closer look at our lead for the overall position and found that the Escort had steadily been closing the gap and could very well take first! With that morsel of info spinning in our heads, we all seemed to self wake at 4am in spite of our set alarm for 5 am!

Don’t break, don’t go off the road, treat her right….and we set off!

El Espinazo del Diablo is a mountainous range of white limestone and patches of dense pine forests. Aerial photos of this area make the ranges look haunted a if covered with cobweb, sinister. The roads of this days speed sections are right next to cliffs of up to 500 meters down.

There was a service before the cars headed out and there would be a second one before heading to the final finish arch in the center of Durango. Got a text from Dave after their run on El Espinazo, “We slayed El Diablo!” RELIEF! After the second service, the cars headed out for a couple of speed sections enroute to Durango.

Our crew was so busy gathering all our parts we had stashed on other trucks that we missed the hoopla with the cars coming through the arch. Conrad called to say our deck lid had been taped and we were to meet at the winners inspection garage, where officials weigh and rein spect aspects of the lead category winners cars. A good sign! 

 At the garage, we found the lead Studebakers, Taz’ s 240, Martin’s Taxi, and the Escort, gulp. Martin was screaming fast this entire event and without question would have snagged first, had he not had his ‘situation’ earlier. Hats off to his bride, Kelly, who put on her helmet for her first Carrera, and rocked the role of navigator!

We succeeded! After getting third for the day, we were awarded first place in our category overall!  Another Carrera behind us. Saying goodbye is always sad. But, we know we will all meet and do it again!

Looking forward to getting home!


Day Six. Guanajuato to Zacatecas.

With the last days ahead, excitement is building and our resolve to bring home El Platillo Volador becomes stronger. 

This day brought us to a quaint town up in the hills of La Congoja, where we meet the race cars for service on the streets of this national park. The scenery is beautiful and we are greeted by a welcoming town and its children, and dogs.

Conrad and Dave felt good about their run and curious about the rest of the speed stages that would take them into Zacatecas over the famous La Bufa, a rock mountain that is a signature of Zacateca’s landscape. We arrived in Zacatecas safely and looked forward to getting some rest.

Our category winners of the day were Martin and Kelly in the Taxi in first. Ian Dobson in second in the Escort and Vojtech Stajf in third.

Tomorrow is the final day, a huge day with a big transit to Durango and beyond to Espinazo del Diablo, the Devils spine. El Platillo Volador is hanging tough and we are looking forward to completing La Carrera Panamericana 2015! Cheers!

Day Five. Morelia to Guanajuato.

Don’t crash! Be safe! Be nice to car! Bring it home! These are the words our little team keeps saying throughout the day. Many mishaps in our category have lead to our firm spot in first overall. As Kelly Lauber put it, we are building our cake from everyone’s crumbs! We will do our best to keep our spot overall and enjoy the rest of this race. 

The cars rolled through the tunnels of Guanajuato into the city center where spectators and drivers enjoyed recapping the day.

Martin and Kelly Lauber got first place, Vojtech got second and Dobson got third. Congrats! Tomorrow, Zacatecas!

Day Four. Toluca to Morelia.

Conrad and Dave set out for the historic city Morelia, one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Mexico. Built in the 1500’s from stone with an arched aqueduct leading to the center of its city, flanked by serious architecture that Morelians are very proud to share its history and yearly allow this growling group of cars to take over for an afternoon and and a morning.

 Just before entering this breathtaking city, the race cars fly, ski, skid, scrape, and unfortunately occasionally crash on the tightly wound roads of Mil Cumbres, one thousand turns. Our California back roads are a great gym for preparing for this well loved speed section.

Although, El Platillo Volador didn’t make the podium this day, great fun was had by all in Morelia. Congrats to the Czech team, driven by Vojtech Stajf in the 1972 Subaru GSR, who took first for the day in our category, and to Martin and Kelly Lauber in the Alfa Taxi who took second and Ian Dobson in the Ford Escort RS. EPV is still holding first overall in class,however, and this team plans on racing steady to stay there.

Tomorrow, it will be Mil Cumbres the opposite way on to Guanajuato, another amazing historic city.

Day Three. Distrito Federal to Toluca

One of the nine speed stages was cancelled on this day that brought the racers up and back from the inactive volcano outside of the industrial city of Toluca. The beauty of Nevado de Toluca is breathtaking, the road winds through pine forests with hidden waterfalls, the temperature drops and the scents of pine and wood, make the heat of Tuxtla a faint memory. Unfortunately, we crew persons, only spend this morning kicking tires and talking smack or sleeping at the PEMEX station where the service will be.

Huge turnout for spectators in the city of Toluca. Unfortunately, the Taxi had brake issues that lead to a safe departure from the road, but it didn’t deter Kelly from running the transponder across the timing line…with her beautiful smile! Although they lost the rest of the day, and the Taxi drove in on it own power, it allowed our Alfa a spot in top place in our category.

Tomorrow, MIL CUMBRES!

Day Two! Thrill ride to Mexico City from Oaxaca

Big hurdle day to Distrito Federal. Eight stacked speed sections and a morning service stop in Tehuacan followed by a never relaxing three hour drive to Mexico City. Everyone was happy to see cars that broke, back on track and sad to see cars that had been doing really well, choke.

Axel in his green Mustang had a broken crank yesterday. Amazingly, it had been fixed overnnight. He said that when his car broke one the first day, it felt as bad as someone giving you a puppy but then taking it away.


We made it to Mexico City! We took Second in our class again. We made it to 16th overall! Martin and Kelly rocked the Taxi to first place, really rocked it! Not just in our class, but to 12th place overall! Congrats! And tomorrow Toluca!


Day One. Tuxtla to Oaxaca.

We are all smiles and limbs!

Early start for the crews this morning as the cars were scheduled to depart for a pretty big day at 7:30. The road is long from Tuxtla to Oaxaca and the route book showed eight speed sections. Crews were definitely busy at the service stop and some cars were too sick to go on. We are hopeful that they all get sorted tonight and see them at the start tomorrow in the centro.

The Czech team had some issues with both of their cars just after the service. Their Subaru is screaming fast and will be back tomorrow for day 2 when we hit Mexico City.


Congrats to Martin and Kelly! They won first place in our group Historic Aplus. It is Kelly’s first Carrera and she is a natural in the role of navigator. Conrad and Dave got second today and we are super happy that the car is running well.

Tomorrow is another big day as we head to Mexico City.


Thursday morning at the Tuxtla convention Center harnessed all emotions as teams readied for the qualifying run up to San Sebastián de las Casas. Last minute tweeks, repairs, posturing, nervous laughter, encouragements, offers to help, and, of course…HUGS! …all unaffected by the heat and humidity that was intense enough to make your teeth sweat.

 Unfortunately, the was attrition before qualifying in the pits. A cracked radiator here a slipping clutch there, but for the most part, we watched the cars head off to score their place in the starting order on day one. 

A couple of cars had offs. Sadly, Renee Brinkerhoff in her gorgeous 356 was one. Her crew worked furiously on it and by dusk, had it back in shape for the race start.

We are happy to report that Conrad and Dave worked really well together and came back feeling good about their drive. Later that evening, the results revealed El Platillo Volador’s placement as 14th in the starting order. Woo hoo! 

We are OK!

We arrived in Tuxtla and have been busy getting through tech inspections and catching up with all our friends here. It is a very exciting time seeing friends we only see here and having quick catch ups.

Laura and Hillaire Damiron will be rocking their Studebaker sponsored by Tag Heuer. Amazing couple taking on racing together and doing mighty well!

Another couple we adore and are lucky enough to see more often, are Kelly and Martin Lauber, driving the dearest Taxi ever! Newly, well, sorta newly weds, taking on the tests of driving / navigating full on! Best to you!

Karen and Monica Leon doing an amazing job sorting us all out and looking amazing in the process!

Here are a couple of shots of other cars heading through tech:

A pre run up the mountain to San Cristobal today was sweet! This will be the qualifying run tomorrow! A sketchy left turn off a busy highway onto a potholed dirt road which lead to an indigenous Mayan village, before arriving to San Cristobal de Casas.


Tomorrow, qualifying. Time for a good nights rest!


GTFO of Oaxaca!

After a lovely dinner in Oaxaca where we nibbled on spicy chapulines (grasshoppers) and other beautifully presented Oaxacan dishes and washed them down with locally brewed beer, we made a team decision to depart for Tuxtla at 9am.

We woke up in the morning and took our time getting ready and I sent a message to our friend Luciano inviting him to breakfast. He said he had to do a surgery and asked if we were aware of protesters closing the entrances to the city. We are no strangers to these protests and decided to GTFO! Hired a cab to help us traverse the city on the way to Tuxtla and drove past the university where the teachers were assembling for the protest. Once outside of the city, we pulled over for a little breakfast.


We were about to drive away when we noticed this still. Mezcal. And got a tour from the dude doin’ it! Sr. Mateo!

First, the maguey is defoliated and the piñas ( heart of the succulent resembling a pineapple) are collected.

The stone oven pit which is 3 meters below ground is layered with first a hot wood burning fire covered with rocks and topped with the piñas, which cook for four days.

The cooked piñas are chopped.


Then placed in this grinder that Oscar the horse mashes with this stone grinder.

Julio says that the can on his face is to keep him from eating the product. The mashed fiberous material is then fermented.

We don’t have an excuse for not remembering the next process, like perhaps drinking the product, but it involves the signature of the maker, the art of it. And after that it is distilled.

And voila! Out it comes!

This is Sr. Matteo’s private stash of reposado behind me and the maker…not for sale.


After our disco tour of his mezcal distillery, we headed to Tuxtla with Conrad and Dave leading the way in EPV. A long, curvy drive up the mountains and down into a valley. The protesters did have their way with our progress at a toll booth, where we stopped on the side of the freeway for about 30 mins.


Alas! We made it to Tuxtla!