26 October 2010

2010 LCP: Day 4 - Queretaro to Morelia

The lovely bar view of Queretaro from the Crown Plaza.

The German Mustang that had a fire and ruined the fuel cell.

Hand building a cobblestone street.

Just 20 minutes after leaving the hotel and heading south out of Queretaro, we came upon El Jefe on the side of the road.  Bummer!  They had been running flawlessly but were experiencing trouble with the hydraulic clutch.  Todd helped Rene while Geezer pushed the clutch in and out.  The good part about where they were stopped was that I got to watch about half of the other race cars zoom by in a transit section.  The guys determined they would need to get some parts and repair the clutch elsewhere so Todd and I headed out.

Watching a Porsche zoom by in a transit stage.

Kristin working the clutch for a while.  My name is still on El Jefe - maybe someday I will race in it again.  Geezer has told me numerous times that I'm the reason he started racing LCP and he'll never take my name off the car.

We took a shortcut instead of directly following the speed stage as we were pretty far behind.  Our GPS told us to turn up this street - right!  We had learned to ignore her most of the time.

Rolling into a city on our smart shortcut we had to figure out a way to pop out on the other side of town and join up with the speed stage.  We relied upon the GPS and unfortunately she brought us to this very tight intersection downtown.  There was no choice  but to go straight ahead.  The metal arch said, "2.5m" and Todd hoped we'd make it.  I jumped out to survey the situation and yelled, "Stop!" as Todd crept ahead.  We were just barely kissing the metal arch with the top of our trailer.  But there was no going back so he continued ahead, scratching the top of the trailer for several feet.

Unfortunately a few minutes later we were pulled over by a municipal cop on a moped.  I stayed in the truck and worried about Todd getting arrested.  Soon there were as many as 4 cops there, coming and going at different times.  As Todd tells the story, the most senior guy, the commandante, rode back to survey the damage to the arch and reported back that there was no damage. 

The small cops waited for him to leave and then restarted their story to Todd about how he damaged the arch and he'd need to pay for repair and paint.  Paint?  What kind of paint do you see on that metal arch?  Okay, we scratched it, we apologized and we were happy to pay for the actual damage but that's not how it works in Mexico.

All in all we were detained 90 minutes by these highly powerful officials and Todd paid them off when they finally named a number to let us go - $1,500 pesos ($125 USD).  I am positive they took the money and immediately got a crew working on the repair. 

The metal arch we scratched.  Can't wait to see the new paint job next year.

Paying off the municipal moped cops.

Grandma feeding the turkeys near the noon service.

At the noon service one of the presidente's brother's Porsches was getting a new motor.  Unfortunately the Federales did not get the memo and once again we were delayed over an hour waiting for this car to show up at the speed stage (even though the speed stage timers and officials had already packed up and left).

A magical Mexican forest and prelude to the legendary Mil Cumbres.

We saw "Ernie" back on the road a few hours later.

Approaching downtown Morelia - love the architectural waterways.

I was absolutely shocked to come across this Norton with South Dakota plates! Wow!  Later Todd told me that a group of motorcycle guys from the States were following the race with a sag wagon.

The afternoon forest speed stages were beautiful!  Including Mil Cumbres.  Not too much road damage this year, just the typical evidence of old washouts, some gravel on the road, etc.  We saw one car off the road in Mil Cumbres - couldn't actually see the car, it was down a bit, the drivers were on the road so everyone looked okay. Might have been #377 Jorge Silva in a Mustang but we are not sure. Saw another couple of cars on the side of the road who had mishaps. Marc Devis said he mis-shifted in Mil Cumbres from 5th to 2nd, spun but luckily stayed on the road, but lost 2 minutes of time and had trouble getting the car to start afterwards.

We arrived in Morelia at a decent time (still daylight!) which was rare.  We had to do quite a bit of jockeying to find the truck parking lot about 6 blocks from our hotel, maiming a trailer tire and fender trim along the way on a sharp curb, but after all the damage we'd already done to the trailer and the $125 payoff to the cop, we were happiest just to arrive in a parking lot.

Thierry and Eric had a great day and LOVED Mil Cumbres.  Thierry said it was absolutely the BEST speed stage he'd ever run in his life, anywhere in the world (and he's been around).  He explained that the tight turns and the rhythm of the road made it amazing.  We were happy to see him so happy.

We heard from the Greenwoods, who were all the way across town in another hotel, and were glad to hear they finished.  They asked if we could bring them their duffle bags as they had not had a change of clothes in a few days.  Todd explained to them how far away we were and how hard it would be to get the truck out of parking.  He suggested they grab a cab and come over and they said, "That's okay!  We'll keep wearing our dirty clothes!"  They are such great and fun guys; they embody the "Spirit of La Carrera."

Later they told us that at dinner dressed in their race suits someone from the hotel overheard them saying that they were not wearing their suits to be macho, but rather because they had no clean clothes to wear.  The hotel guy graciously did their laundry for free that evening!

It has been a very difficult Carrera in that our team was split between several hotels each night, none of them being close enough to walk.  It made logistics very difficult, even simple things like the Greenwoods having access to their luggage each evening.  The hardest thing was having the cars strewn all over a city and trying to coordinate basic maintenance.

In 2008 we had 3 cars, 6 clients and 5 crew yet we were all at the same hotel each evening so the cars were always in the same parking lot and we could always find anyone from the team in the hotel.  This year was chaotic in comparison.

So tonight was rare as we got to the hotel at a decent hour, showered and had planned on a nice dinner in this beautiful old boutique hotel less than a block from the zocolo that reminded me of a monastery.  It was amazing how quiet and serene it was inside the solid stone walls of this hotel, while on the outside the chaos and noise and traffic continued unabated. 

We saw Thierry and Eric in the restaurant; they were cleaned up and headed to dinner with the Belgians.  Todd and I settled into a corner table in the beautiful courtyard.  I had been dreaming of shrimp with garlic for days, Mexican-style, and they had exactly what I wanted. Todd toasted to our 1 month anniversary, which technically was celebrated under a full moon on the dirty street outside the hotel in Puebla a few nights ago. 

When our food arrived I decided we needed a photo to capture the moment, so I hopped over to the next table and asked the guy there, "Would you mind taking a photo of us?  This is never going to happen again....and it's our honeymoon."  He laughed, not understanding that I meant a quiet, beautiful dinner was not likely to happen again during the Carrera, . 

But then I looked back at Todd, who was staring intently at the guy, and Todd said, "What's your name?"

He replied, "Ian Swan" and we broke out laughing.  Todd and Ian had spoken several times and emailed about La Carrera and had been trying to meet up since it started.  Ian and Val Swan, from Australia, and their German friends, Helmut and Donata, had come over to follow the Carrera.  But we had been unable to connect, what with being in different hotels and cell phones not always working.

After dinner Todd had a little more work to do on the BON so I joined the Swan's table and we downed some tequila and laughed for a couple of hours and the laughing almost completely erased all the damage we did to the trailer, the frustration of the long day with delays, and getting hosed by the cops.  :) 

Todd and Ian laughing and meeting in person for the first time.

Definitely a rare Carrera evening.

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