October 2011

Doug's News

Carrera Panamericana 2011

Hello from Mexico!

Carrera Panamericana 2011 has been a fascinating one ... We've been so busy no time to send updates. But results are on the La Carrera Panamericana website.

Sunday marked the end of Day Three. We left Huatulco Friday and ended up in Oaxaca, Saturday to Puebla, and Sunday to Queretaro. Today we go to Morelia.

54 Olds Super 88

Ace navigator Angelica Fuentes and I qualified 4th of some 110 cars. So a good starting place.

Friday we drove prudently through the heat and humidity of the Pacific Coast before heading to mountains leading to Oaxaca. The first day always has the worst of crashes and mechanical issues and we benefited from others' misfortunes. Michel Jourdain, a former Indy Car driver qualified first, only to blow an engine early on. 2006 winner (with Angelica) Gabriel Perez lost a fan belt ... We ended up second on the day and second overall.

Saturday we left Oaxaca early for stages through mountain villages ... Beautiful countryside ... And later in the day stages outside Tehuacan coming out of the hills and onto the desert floor. And then the most incredible reception in Tehuacan where everyone within 100 miles must show up! (See photo).

We were blocked on two stages by a car that had gearbox problems and failed to yield as we came up to overtake, easy to do on tight and twisty mountain roads -- very unsporting and we are hoping the organizers take some action -- his blocking us for some 4-5 miles caused us to end that stage 21 seconds slower than 2010, so quite frustrating.

Then disaster struck! Leaving a toll booth on transit to Puebla the gearbox got stuck in First gear! But all the speed stages were done, all we had to do was drive 30 miles to the finish line in First! So we did, at 5000 to 6000 rpm, transmission leaving a trail of smoke, engine running at 260 degrees ... The longest 30 miles I can recall! But we did it! And ended up First overall! Our times through the stages were good enough for First, even with the blocking car who refused to let us by. We had a lead of nearly a minute, :58. It would easily have been a minute and a half and we not been blocked.

Oscar and Phil Denney, our mechanic, took out the damaged gearbox and put in another, new one. It took until 2:00am, so big pats on the back to them. They have a more difficult time than we do -- they need leave an hour before us in the morning, usually 7am, then work half the night on the car when we get to the end of the day. Then do it again and again, for seven days!

Sunday was a day of long drives on freeways to get around the giant Mexico City area, and a few speed stages ... What was memorable was driving at top speed and seeing a bunch of horses loitering on the road! We slowed a bit and they nicely moved. But it would not have been much fun hitting a 1000 pound horse at 130 mph! I do not know the results of Sunday but suspect we may still be First. The guy who blocked us, a semiprofessional rally driver, got his gearbox fixed and made a charge from behind and I suspect made up some time on us. Today we have the famous Mil Cumbres speed stages through the mountains above Morelia. These are very tight roads that are terrific stages, requiring 100% concentration and great handling from the car.

Doug's Car Sponsor CYMISA

Doug's Car Sponsor CYMISA

We are sponsored by CYMISA, our distributor in Mexico, and are hopeful it benefits their business.

Stay tuned! The event is seven days so we are not yet halfway. And a lot can happen from here on out, some good, some not so good. Keep fingers crossed only good things happen to Team Mockett!