25 October 2010

2010 LCP: Day 3 Puebla to Queretaro

It is the morning of Day 4 and by now everything is blurring together.  Yesterday, Day 3 from Puebla to Queretaro was another rough day.  And we had hoped things would smooth out. 

A birds-eye view of a typical housing development in Puebla.

On Day 3 the first speed stage was cancelled, which I think was a good thing.  Todd and I follow the race route turn by turn, not the service route, and that morning stage had about a half dozen "jumps" and looked like a terrible road surface and was right in Puebla.

There were then 5 more morning speed stages in the mountains outside of Puebla.  As far as we can tell, on the 4th speed stage, which was a new one, 5 or more cars were taken out, either by crash or fire.  Speed stages 5 and 6 were then cancelled due to the serverity of the crashes.  I did not hear about any injuries, thankfully. 

We waited at a Pemex for the race cars to come out and were able to talk to several of them on their long transit to service.  Linda Robertson said the stage where all the crashes happened was terrible...."The best part about that stage was when it was over."  She said it was heavily wooded, little visibility, the turns were extremely tight and one after another, the roads were wet (I also heard they were greasy) and they were at times blinded by sunlight.  I looked at the race book and the turns were 0, 1 and 2s, quite a few of them short but otherwise it did not look like a difficult stage at least not on paper (turns were rated low, no cliffs, rough roads or big warnings).  But the handful of drivers I talked to all said it was brutal.  And the general consensus seems to be that in general, the turns are rated low this year, which means a 1 is really a 2 (more severe).

The always lovely Linda & Stewart Robertson.


Felipe & Steve

Super what?? "Everything you want and everything fast!"

A bicycling funeral parade in the background.

Smiling Thierry

Eric and Todd

Thierry and Eric, ready to go again.

The former Cliquot Chico.

One of the Gullwings.

Mexican Studebaker #58, black with red and orange flames, crashed and was spotted on a trailer coming out of the mountains; the damage looked extensive especially in the rear end.  The Gregories in the Studebaker painted red and white for the Canadian flag went off road but they were fine. 

Von Wagenheim's Opal motor burned and they were spotted hurredly trying to get their things out of the trunk - not sure if it completely burned or not.  They were having fuel problems yesterday at the noon service.  We heard a Mustang went off road, but then we heard no Mustangs went off so we don't know.  We heard the red LT crashed but we saw #207 red LT come flying out of the mountain stages at the front of the pack.  We also heard that the LT flew into the trees and could not be found, but again, that seems to not be the case.  It is so difficult to get good information.  People tell you what they saw or heard and then of course it changes as it gets passed along. 

Hubertus's German Opal burns.

We did not sweep the course after that as we got a call from Thierry that the BON would not come out of 3rd gear near a town called Bernal.  They got a local mechanic to pop it out and make a small repair with a safety wire (I think on the shifter linkage) and they were back on the road and did not miss any speed stages or the final run around the track at Queretaro. 

A super nice couple - he brought LCP photos from last year and I spotted El Jefe.  He has a race car and is hoping to race next year.

My log of each car we see on the side of the road with problems, or crashed.  It's a very long list this year.  We mark the location in the race route book, the time, the car number and details.  I've never been this busy before.

The Mexican models don't look to me very traditionally Mexican.

This driver from a Euro-Latino Falcon desperately asked us for a battery in traffic before the noon stop.  

Todd offers the Euro-Latino Falcon driver with a battery so he can make it to service.

My favorite Mexican sculptor - but he did not have the 6-foot Don Quixote I was prepared to bring home with us.  Darn!  Maybe next year.

Beautfiful children at play near the sculptor's studio.

We are again unsure of any of the standings as many, many drivers skipped the meeting last night.  The location of the meeting was back downtown and once the drivers have made it to the hotel and gotten some food, it is ridiculous to think about hopping a taxi, going back downtown and sitting around until 11pm waiting for a meeting to begin.  If you have been trying to follow the standings on the official LCP site, you know very well that they have nothing posted since the race has started.  I believe Thierry and Eric were 14th overall at the end of Day 2 but that's all we know.

We are in a brand new hotel towering above Queretaro and have an amazing view of the entire city.  That evening I had a precious 30 minutes in the  bar with Jake Shuttlesworth while delivering a few bolts to him.  He reflected on Chihuahua in March and said in his first real conversation with him, Todd asked him what his philosophy on life was.  Jake said he thought about it and decided, "Seize the day" was his philosophy and while we were discussing it, both looking out the window over the magnificent city view at the top of our hotel a white owl buzzed by - totally white - I have never seen anything like that outside of the zoo and took it as a special sign.  Jake said, "It that a good omen?"  And I said, "Yes, sir!"  It was a beautiful bird that looked like it had just lifted off from the roof and made an arc in front of our window.  Wow!

Jake is still waiting on a lower control arm for his '64 Fairlane that went off the road on Day 1, and hoping to get it fixed tomorrow and rejoin the race.  He is disappointed he went off and said the turns in that stage should have been rated higher, and it was a downhill stage.

I talked to Gerie Bledsoe around midnight in the lobby, who said he misses Fernando and Todd...and we reminisced about what fun we had last year on the team together.  Gerie was penalized 10 minutes yesterday due to a navigator error, which is unfortunate and gave him maximum times for the entire day.  He said in a way it was good because pressure was off for the day and he could really enjoy the speed stages and not worry about being fast. 

Rene and Geezer had another good finish with Rene driving all day.  Jake was clocking racers on laps at the track and said the big wigs like Michel Jourdain and Jochen Mass and Bill Beilharz were running 1:11, Mockett at 1:15 and Rene at 1:24, a second ahead of Bledsoe.  Go Rene!  But don't tell him until the race is over!  ;) 

I keep telling him, "Do what you did today again tomorrow!"  They moved up to 4th in class from 5th, out of 11 originally started and if they behave they could very well end up on the podium.  It would be the first time to podium since we were up there 3 times in 2006, our rookie year.

In the evening I was so honored to be joined for drinks by Rudi van den Berg, Carina, their four month old son, Sami, as well as Rudi's parents and sister from the Nederlands!  Sami is darling, full head of black hair, gigantic deep black eyes and a handsome way about him.  We had a great time and I so appreciated that they came up to the hotel to see us.  I will post photos of Sami, future Dutch/Mexican piloto famoso when I get them.  Rudi comes to visit us at the finish line and the hotel each year in Queretaro, eating up all the race excitement and loving it.  Always great to see Rudi and family and especially wonderful to meet his parents and sister.

Rene, Sami, and Geezer in the zocolo in Queretaro.

Proud papa Rudi with son, Sami in El Jefe.

A wonderful visit with Rudi, Carine and 4-month old Sami and their extended family.

Todd was working on the BON until about 1am so we got a little more sleep last night.  But I awoke to Todd's news that the transmission might be going on of the Chevy dually, AKA "Hips."  We have 4 more days left in the race, but we are only 5 hours from Zacatecas, the race finish so Todd was considering sending Brian ahead in Hips to Zac to get it repaired.  But evidently Brian said this morning he thinks he can limp Hips along the rest of the race.  Hips is towing an open trailer and we can get along without the extra support vehicle if we have to but it is not ideal.  

Late night work on the BON after quite an adventure trying to find the Crown Plaza in Queretaro.
Everything breaks - the only thing you can do is prepare well and hope for the best.  Cork, Tom Overbaugh's mechanic said, "We spend the entire year getting the race cars ready for this race, but we only do quick tuneups and oil changes for the trucks and the race is probably tougher on the service vehicles. 

Today we ride from Queretaro to Morelia and run the famous Mil Cumbres.  I hope the roads are good and dry - rarely the case up there.

La Carrera Panamericana - you've got to roll with the changes and challenges or pack it up and go home!

1 comment:

Richard Tyzack said...

I am amazed that the organisation is still so lousy, why don't all the teams boycot the evening prizegiving then they might listen.
How is Marc Devis getting on anybody?
Glad that BON is still battling away, I read the reports Kristen and I have a lump in my throat, I really feel some of the pain you guys are going through, but i miss it like hell, it's still the biggest drug in Mexico!