24 March 2010

2010 Chihuahua Express: Day 2 (w/speed stage video clips & way too many photos)

RACE DAY 2 - Thierry and Eric finished 5th overall and 3rd in the PanAm Class (vintage) in the Bag O'Nails. These are the final standings due to the cancellation of Day 3.

I *think* the overall winners were Rodrigo and Rodolfo González in the green Maserati with Mockett/Fuentes winning the PanAm Class (3rd overall) and the #40 blue Studebaker 2nd in the PanAm Class (4th overall).


After last night's solemn race meeting, and the decision to continue racing, the morning was quiet as well.


Dennis and Eugen get ready for Day 2.

Thierry and Todd prep for the day.

Fernando and Rene chatting in the morning.

Eric and Thierry.

Eugen and Dennis.

The Geezer.


Eugen and Dennis.

The Mustangs To Go Team: Rene, Brian, Dave, K, Todd, Geezer.

Thierry, a rock star in his new race car.

Todd and Rene put the finishing touches on the Bag O'Nails (duct tape for the rattle in the grill).

Jake - busted coming out of the weeds, the makeshift baño.
Sweeeeeet '70 Mustang spectator car.

The Bobs in the Alfa.

And we are off! Headed towards the magnificent Copper Canyon and the first mountain speed stages of Day 2.

Eugen and Dennis drop a little excess gas out the overflow on the way to the first speed stage.


The Bag O'Nails lines up for the first speed stage of Day 2 behind a Renault Clio.

Eric race face.


Thierry race face.







Gerie and Fer!

Roadside memorial crosses for two children near the speed stage start.

Happy Racing Todd.

Todd spotted a screw or nail in the back tire of the Cliquot Chico but they were already at the starting line.




I'm sorry - I like this photo.


Viehof and DeLaughter in the lineup.





Viehof and DeLaughter.

Jake fixed his radiator leak by dropping in a dozen raw eggs. Gotta love them Texans!


Gerie at the first service stop.

Fer - famous as usual.

Thierry and Eric, rumored to be having fun.

At the first service stop Todd reminded me about the nail in the tire of the Cliquot Chico so I grabbed Christian Dumolin and told him about it. His crew knelt down by the tire and ran their hands over and shook their heads no at me. I said we could see it plain as day at the start of the speed stage and searched for the picture on my camera. The guys were pretty doubtful so I shrugged my shoulders and walked away. I stopped by about 10 minutes later and they had just removed the screw and the tire was leaking loudly. About a half hour later one of the mechanics handed me a shorn off screw and gave me a big smile and said thank you.

Todd had about 100 Matchbox race cars in the truck to give away. When we'd go slow (rare with Rene driving) through a small village we'd hand them to kids on the street. At the first service stop I stuffed a bunch in my pockets and handed them out. Like sharks tasting blood in the water, before I knew it I was surrounded by about 10 little boys, all asking for CARRITOS! I took them back to our truck and handed out the rest of them, hassling them a little bit by asking how many each wanted. Most of them said, "!TRES!" I'd argue a bit, just to practice my Spanish and tell them I already gave them 3. I gave them some of the 2009 LCP El Jefe postcards ("!TARJETAS!") and some K&N Filter stickers Steve Waldman's wife had given us.


The screw in the Cliquot Chico (Falcon) tire.

My new amigos, Brian and Kevin.

Todd and Eugen.

Local bomberos (firefighters).

More of my new friends.

Eugen and Dennis taking off for more mountain speed stages.

While waiting for the speed stage ahead of us to open up we gave a Matchbox car to this little guy and his dad was very excited about the race, just opened this new restaurant called El Bandido and when I asked him if he could bring us a dozen tacos in 3 minutes, he said he needed 10. But we didn't have 10 minutes so it seemed it was goign to be another day without breakfast or lunch. We chatted with him, learned about how he came from Phoenix and his brother had a mechanic's shot there. After he left we were just about to take off and Todd suddenly took off his team shirt and said, "Go give this to our new friend." I hopped out of the truck, since the restaurant was on my side, ran inside and as I handed him the shirt he handed me a freshly prepared taco - he was just about to run it outside for me because I had told him I was really hungry. Great trade for me!

!El Bandido Restaurante! Baja tacos yummmmm.

The final push to the Copper Canyon - more curvy, steep, mountain speed stages.


Marc and his broken Studebaker.

After a speed stage we came upon Marc Devis and his navigator on the side of the road. He broke some kind of steering rod and drove it like that through the last speed stage. He said he also lost all oil pressure so it seemed Marc's day was done, even though it wasn't noon yet. Too bad as he was in the lead yesterday for the Pan Am Class.

We had left our trailer back at the last gas station service stop since Dave and Brian were ahead at the Copper Canyon with a trailer. We checked on Marc, gave him some big bottles of water and said we would check on him on the way back, and if Dave's trailer was empty he could hop on. He said his crew was coming but we had not seen them all day, and we did not know them to ever travel with a trailer.

After quite a climb and hundreds of tricky curves we arrived at the Copper Canyon overlook - simply spectacular! The native Tarahumara Indians are beautiful people, brightly clothed and selling handmade baskets and jewelry, and bolts of colorful cloth. About half of the children don't wear shoes, or very minimal soles strapped on with rope. I remember the Tarahumaras coming to run the Leadville 100 Ultramarathon in Colorado......and winning without shoes!

From Wikipedia: The Rarámuri or Tarahumara are an indigenous people of northern Mexico, and are renowned for their long-distance running ability. Originally inhabitants of much of the state of Chihuahua, the Rarámuri retreated to the Copper Canyon in the Sierra Madre Occidental on the arrival of Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century. The area of the Sierra Madre Occidental which they now inhabit is often called the Sierra Tarahumara because of their presence.


Current estimates put the population of the Rarámuri in 2006 at between 50,000 and 70,000 people. Most still practice a traditional lifestyle, inhabiting natural shelters such as caves or cliff overhangs, as well as small cabins of wood or stone. Staple crops are corn and beans; however, many of the Rarámuri still practice transhumance, raising cattle, sheep, and goats. Almost all Rarámuri migrate in some form or another in the course of the year.




Second service stop of Day 2 on the rim of the Copper Canyon.



Tarahumara shoes.

Boys will be boys! I also love that his shirt says Ski Country. Another little boy had a shirt that said Ice Fishing.





Rene shops for bracelets the little girls were selling.










......"and the freedom of my spirit."


It was wonderful to be touristy for almost an hour - another thing we don't really get to do on the LCP. I walked to the edge of the canyon, wandered through the gorgeous lodge sitting on the edge, shopped a bit and purchased some bracelets, a necklace and a wall hanging of an elderly Tarahumara Indian.

After the final service we retraced our steps back. The Chihuahua Express is an out-and-back each day, and each day goes a different direction out from Chihuahua so there are three different landscapes to enjoy. Today has been the most enjoyable so far, I love this area and the people are so beautiful.

Not too long after departing the Copper Canyon rim we came upon two racers on the side of the road. As I mentioned earlier, it is always a welcome sight to see them, even if their car is out of sight, and even if the car is totalled. We always try to slow down or stop, depending on traffic, to find out if they need help. Often as they are waiting for their support vehicles they will give a thumbs up to passing vehicles. We were on a tight uphill curve and because of the heavy post-speed stage traffic, we couldn't see their vehicle. As we continued around the corner we saw their helmets resting upside down on road posts, then we spotted the blue Porsche that must have skipped a bit off the road and gotten hung up in the wicked and deep concrete gutters.




We continued along and as we approached El Bandido restaurant again, Todd offered to run in and get a dozen tacos while we went ahead a half mile to hook up the trailer again. We arrived at the same Pemex as several hours ago and my little friends were still there and still asking for CARRITOS. We were out and I felt bad, but that didn't stop them from continuing to ask.


Jake and Gerie with fake grumpy faces.
Todd listens to Eugen and Dennis.


More of my smiling amigos. I told them, "I'll see you next year!" and they looked at me like I was crazy.


When we caught up to the next speed stage the Touring Class was just taking off. I have to admit that I shook my head when I saw some of the cars with no safety equipment at all in the cars, just helmets. I backtracked to take this picture of a green Ford Fusion that I hadn't seen before.....and the driver wearing a motocross helmet. WTF. The Solana Corvette was two cars ahead of him; the Porsche was behind him.

I heard later that the Touring Class usually ran the stages before everyone else, but at some point during the day they were relegated to the back of the pack and they had to wait for quite a while.
The rest of the day went smoothly until we came upon the second fatal accident of the race, which I wrote about in an earlier post. There is not much to say, it is so sad and feels so unecessary.

I did hear that on the final transit of the day one race car towards the back of the regular pack was cruising at 90mph and passed by the Corvette pulled over on the side of the road. Not too much later they said the Corvette absolutely blew their doors off going about 90 mph faster than them. That is fast.

It might have sounded to someone like an exaggeration but it was not. The official account said the Corvette was going 280 kmh (175 mph). This on a transit on a two-lane divided highway with public traffic. Public traffic means normal speed cars and semis, farmers going slow in pickups, families going slow in tiny economy cars, people turning on to the highway, you name it. The guys then saw a large plume of smoke in the distance......they figured it was a dust tornado or a farmer plowing dusty fields. Unfortunately it was the fatal accident and they came upon it about a minute after it happened. Having EMT experience, the one guy didn't have to get very close to the Corvette to know there were no survivors. By this time there were other people on site moving towards the Porsche.

We came upon the crash site about 30 minutes later. Todd had been sleeping in the back seat and when I saw all of the cars my brain tried to convince me it was a lineup for the next speed stage, even though I knew full well we were done for the day. Funny how your brain tries to protect you with denial. I shook Todd's arm once and spoke but he didn't wake up. I looked up again as we got closer and Rene was saying, "Oh no...." I shook Todd again but got no response. But the third time I shook him harder as I knew it was a terrible accident and our hearts sank.

I am so sorry this had to happen.

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