10 April 2011

2011 Chihuahua Express: Day 3.....the last day

My man on the ground (Todd) reports today will be short and fast!

I love the technology that brings us timely updates, but it is really hard to be sitting at home while the race is going on!

Update 5pm Chihuahua time.....seems most everyone has finished.  Todd says 3 cars were impounded and teched:  Jordain, Mockett and Landon.  Todd was the only Historic C car pulled.

Update 7pm.....Todd and Geezer got 1st in Historic C for the day and 7th or 8th overall.  They are waiting for cumulative results.

Update 730pm:  Gerie & Fernando WIN HISTORIC C!!!!! Woohooo!!!  Jourdain #1 overall, Mockett #2.  Todd & Geezer 4th in Historic C (due to missing a speed stage on Day 1). CONGRATS to all!

09 April 2011

2011 Chihuahua Express: Day 2 Update

ChiX Day 2: Todd and Geezer arrived at the lookout on top of la barranca del cobre (Copper Canyon).  The downhill speed sections are always the most dangerous - hope everyone keeps their cool on the way down.

Just heard from Todd this evening that he and Geezer were 1st in Historic C today and 10th overall.  I hope Gerie and Fernando were close behind.

Mats says Jourdain is still in 1st place overall.

Gerie's wife, Diane, says Gerie & Fer are 3rd in Historic C, behind another Nova at 2nd (still assuming this is the Gregorys).

At the service on the way to the Copper Canyon (I think), the Pemex lost power and there was only one other gas station across town.  So most of them sat and waited...no power = no gas.  Seems to be a lack of gas theme going here.  And later in the day, at another Pemex (if I understand this right) there wasn't any gas either.

Todd's notes from Day 2:
Day #2 was super windy and super dusty at the services. It was a new Pemex with no food or drinks, just bathrooms. The wind kept knocking the power out for the gas pumps and lots of people were nervous about fuel stuff—us too.  Rene was low on fuel in the Big Mama. Gunter was having rich fuel issues with the Studebaker and had to run back to town to get his truck and trailer, then back up the mountain to retrieve car.  Very few people brought their trailers up to the Copper Canyon.  

The supercharged Acura NSX was on its trailer midday for the rest of the day. A blue Porsche went off on the way down from Davisidaro on a downhill right 2 with gravel—we saw the skid marks but not the car—I remember the spot—a cop was waving to slow down—we rocked the corner—the mule held its footing.

The Televisa CEO came in a new BMW Mini Cooper for Day 2 (also the sponsors for the race) and he crashed on the long transit (118 miles or so) from the hotel to the start - about 40 miles short of the start —not sure if he hit another racer or what—he was out.
 The Seman-Baker team is running a Cobra and a 260Z. The Cobra was on the side of the road just before the top of the Copper Canyon—he was still there when we raced down—they were OK—big thumbs up as we roared past.

Long , long haul transit back to the hotel.  Fernando was sound asleep in the navigator's seat of Gerie's Nova every time we swapped positions on the highway. The chip reader at the end of afternoon return run #2 was not working at timing/end of run—they did ours manually.  We had 15 seconds of mysterious penalty day #2?

Todd's photos from Day 2:

Geezer, copiloto, ready to roll on Day 2.

Pemex for noon service - no power, no gas!

Waiting for gas.

Just a little scrape on the tail end of the Porsche.

Copper Canyon sales force.

The overlook at Copper Canyon.

Selling wares at the edge of the canyon.

Two ponies.

Evidently there was no gas a second time at a Pemex.

08 April 2011

2011 Chihuahua Express: Day 1 Complete

Todd reported that he and Geezer finished Day 1 and the Gypsy Wind ran well....except she ran out of gas in the morning and they missed the last speed stage of the morning.  It's not the first time the GW has run out of gas.....happened to the Greenwoods last fall in the LCP, happened to Geezer on La Bufa in Zacatecas a few weeks ago and now today.  Maybe there is a big hole? :) 

I just talked to Todd and he said the gas gauge shows 1/4 tank when it is actually empty - lessons learned!

As of this evening, as far as he knows, only a yellow Porsche went offroad today and he thinks the damage is minor.  He saw Gunter and Barbara on the side of the road, the Canadians in the vintage Corvette, as well as Mats' Falcon, which he heard also ran out of gas.  He is bummed about running out of gas but he said it was a great day.  Later we found out that Gunter and the Canadians also ran out of gas, too funny.

At the end of Day 1 Gerie is running 2nd in Historic C, and he said another Nova was in 3rd (guessing it's the John and Chrislana Gregory) and a Pony was in 1st. 

Day 1 photos from Todd:


Release of the three white doves in memorium of the three racers lost last year.

The Mockett Rocket.

Driver's meeting, end of Day 1.

2011 Chihuahua Express: Day 1 Launch

Todd and Geezer launched 1st in Historic C this morning to kick off Day 1 of the three day Chihuahua Express.  !Suerte!

Fernando & Gerie at the Day 1 launch.

Fernando, hijo de Chihuahua.

07 April 2011

2011: Chihuahua Express - The Gypsy Wind Is Blowing Warm Tonight....

Todd reported in this evening that it was a fun and successful Day 0. The race participants visited The Home For Special Needs Kids and were showered with smiles from the children.  Todd handed out little Matchbox Nascars that General Mills donated years ago and he said they were a hit with the kids.  We keep finding piles of them in nooks and crannies in the trailers, house and garage - it is good to have them find a proper home.

Then the racers took a few laps around the track.  Todd's race suit didn't pass inspection as it was too old so Fernando's friend, Raoul, was able to borrow one for him.  Todd said the GW sticks well and Gerie's Nova lost oil pressure at the track, but they later found a faulty valve and it's fixed.

Fernando Garcia said on Facebook a few days ago, "We'll teach those Mustang and Fords a couple of tricks! :)"  I hope he has humbled a bit since then.  He's a big Mustang guy and always has at least a few of them in his garage, but he's navigating in a Chevy Nova with Bledsoe so it cracks me up to hear him talking smack about Mustangs.

The Governor of Chihuahua is evidently living in the hotel so there is a lot of security, and there is a big wedding scheduled for Saturday night so parking should be interesting.

The funniest note of the day was Todd saying:

"We made the paper!! Rene told them Gypsy Wind has 570 HP!!! It is in print, so it must be true."

You can't beat that smile.

This is Jack Rogers' Mustang.  Jack ran this car in the LCP last year and has a bunch of land speed records at Bonneville in multiple engine classes in a Camaro.  Pretty cool!
Here's a snippet on Jack Rogers at Bonneville:  The 757 Camaro had an incredible few days at the 2010 World of Speed meet on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The 757 Camaro, driven by Jack Rogers, broke 3 records in 4 days, with 1 record being in excess of 250 mph! New records set by the 575 Camaro were in A/PRO, A/GALT and A/FALT classes. Needless to say the crew and fans of the 757 Camaro were all smiles and giggles in 2010!  A cool video of his record breaking run here.

A good crowd at the Home For Special Needs Children.

Todd says: "Jake's running a Fairlaine (smaller than a Galaxie)!"

Mean looking Viper with the Canadian Corvette behind it, the one that had a very bad crash in the 2009 LCP.

Todd says, "The Gregorys are running a Nova!"

Todd says, Rene is good!

Todd says, "Your hubby sponsored by a pork products company at the track!"
The driver's meeting is going on right now  They will release three white doves at the ceremonial start in Chihuahua tomorrow morning for the three men killed last year.  Tomorrow the racers leave the hotel around 7:30 a.m. to head downtown for the start.  

Todd said it is hot and dry - the Gypsy Wind is blowing warm tonight.

The new time cards, which evidently are the same ones to be used at LCP this fall.

Thursday evening driver's meeting.

2011: Chihuahua Express

The 2011 Chihuahua Express website featuring the Bag O'Nails and Thierry & Eric's 5th place finish last year.

The 2011 Chihuahua Express has begun.  As far as we know everyone arrived safely.  Gerie caravaned north from San Miguel, hooking up with Geezer and the TBZ boys in Zacatecas for the drive to Chihuahua.

Geezer brought up Todd's truck, trailer and the Gypsy Wind, which has been wintering at the TBZ Spa, enjoying a facelift and some liposuction.  Todd flew into El Paso on Tuesday, where Fernando and his brother picked him up and drove the 240 miles back to Chihuahua City.  Two wheels fell off Mats Hammarlund's dually truck on the way to Chihuahua, but no one was hurt.

Today the racers paid a visit to a children's home in Chihuahua City, bearing gifts, and now they are off to the race track for a few laps.  Todd says he needs to scrub the Gypsy Wind's new tires and that he's going to "take it easy."

Tomorrow the race officially begins.  I will upload photos tonight if Todd is able to get them to me.

Suerte a todos and please keep the memory of the three men who died during last year's race in your hearts and minds.

06 April 2011

2010 LCP: It Is Over

We've all heard people grumble with dread at the end of an amazing vacation, "Well, now it's back to the real world."

I tend to be backwards in some things in life but when I'm at La Carrera, for me, it is real life.

My real life is anywhere or anytime I'm feeling the joy, doing what I love best, getting the most out of every moment. I used to think those joyful feelings I had while on vacation could be carried back to my regular life but only for a while. Many of us like to stay on "vacation mode" for as long as possible, but in my past, those feelings faded fast and the stress of working, commuting, too much to do and not enough time, etc. would creep back in way too soon.

After spending time in Death Valley a few times in the mid-2000s as a crew member at the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 mile footrace each July, recognized globally as the world's toughest footrace), I came to a realization that I needed to make my everyday life feel as good as possible by eliminating or minimizing stress and pointing my efforts towards letting every day bring me pleasure, not just a few weeks of vacation a year, to refill my emotional reservoir and renew my spirit.

So here's to La Carrera - my REAL WORLD.

In conclusion, I love what our beautiful and dear friend, Fernando Garcia wrote shortly after the race.  We deeply missed you, Fernando.

Feel PROUD for every happy or sad face, for all the blood, tears and smiles, for the heart and the guts, for the freedom and the talks, for the passion and the anger, for the courage, for the fear and the friendship, for the speed and the waits, for all of you, all of you who made it, tried, worked or helped. Feel Proud!! Carrera Panamericana.

-Fernando Garcia

2010 LCP: Summary of Blog Entries

I am way behind with updates, as it usually goes in the weeks and sometimes months of recovery from the madness of LCP.  Life gets in the way sometimes.  But I finally finished blogging the 2010 LCP.

Day 7 - Aguascalientes to Zacatecas (EL FIN)

Day 6 - Guadalajara to Aguascalientes

Day 5 - Morelia to Guadalajara

Day 4 - Queretaro to Morelia

Day 3 - Puebla to Queretaro

Start of Day 3

End of Day 2 - Oaxaca to Puebla

Day 1 - Tuxtla to Oaxaca

Updated Day 0 Prequalification with new photos as well as an extra page of Day 0 photos.

Mi hermanito, Rene Rodriguez, driving #11 El Jefe, at the noon service on Day 7. !Que chulo!
Photo of Geezer courtesy of Michael Emery of Lucha Libre Racing.

2010 LCP: Day 7: Aguascalientes to Zacatecas (EL FIN)

Today we depart Aguascalientes for the last day!  Every year at the end of the first day of racing, I'm exhausted and I say, "I can't believe it is only Day 1."  Then the next thing I know the whole damned thing is over!

This is how you start the morning when you are Rene Rodriguez N. - piloto famoso.

The Greenwood Brothers - always smiling!

A speed stage opened and quickly closed up again.  Lots of machine gun guys, that seems to be normal this year.

Now we see the reason for the delay and all the security - one of the two cars belonging to the CEO of Televisa had skidded off the road.

The napping photos make us look like we had tons of time to spare - we did not.

Todd taking a rare nap after arriving a bit early for noon service.

While Todd napped I whipped out the camping stove and started to make BURRITOS!! 

The Gypsy Wind and the Bag O'Nails, nose to nose at noon service.

Ben Greenwood shows how to make lunch at La Carrera.

Thumbs up from Gerie!

Antonio from the TBZ crew.

Rene and Geezer snarf down my burritos.

Antonio, Bimbo and Hugo getting busy.

Geezer air kisses me in thanks for the lunch.

Yep.  No shame in that pose.  Get it while you can.

Dave Fuss, navigator extraordinaire.

The happy (and dirty) couple - still hoping our stomachs will settle down soon.

Brian Jacobsen - we would not have survived this year without him.  What a trooper.

Dave Fuss and Steve Lawrence leaving noon service.

A little mishap in a service vehicle - we can relate.

Wonderful LCP Staff - we thank you all!

A man in a candy necklace always does it for me.

Bob at the second service outside of Zacatecas.

Una Cosa AKA a VW Thing!

Can't go wrong with a shiny black badass Maverick.  It's probably a Grabber too.

LCP buddies, racing partners, mechanics, Minnesota boys......old friends Todd and Dave.
Thierry & Eric, before the last speed stage of the 2010 LCP.  Photo courtesy of Brian Jacobsen.

Joyous rookie finishers, Ben & John Greenwood.  !Viva familia Greenwood!

Last minute tweaks for Gerie as he gets ready to run La Bufa for the last time in 2010.

Peace bro

There go my boys!

Brian, Todd and Dave on La Bufa, waiting for the race cars.
A cowboy either watching the race or waiting to cross the street.

I included this picture though it is hard to see the #354 white Mustang coupe on the left.  He was going about 4 mph and sounded terrible.  The reason I include the picture is not to point out that this is the same guy that stuck his trophy in my face and arrogantly told me he was in the FAST MOOSTANG at the end of Day 2.  I've already said earlier in the blog that if you run LCP long enough, or even just once, or even for one day, you will end up broken down, on the side of the road, on a trailer, or out for a day for repairs.  But when the FAST MOOSTANG literally putted by us on La Bufa I could not resist walking alongside him as he went by.  He finished 16th overall in Historic C.


El Jefe sounded and looked awesome!!!  !Viva Zacatecas!  Go Rene!

Rene's parents.

After we watched most of the racers head up La Bufa we returned to TumbaBurros de Zacatecas, Geezer's shop to regroup.  I made my annual visit to Rene's parent's house, which is just a few doors down from TBZ.  Sarah and I ran down there and knocked on the door.  It took Rene's dad a minute to figure out what the hell a road weary blonde and a sassy redhead were doing standing on his front step, and then broke out a big smile.  I have a hard time making my Spanish clear enough to understand so my visit is mostly full of smiles and hugs.  They are such dear, dear, people.  One of the hardest parts about La Carrera is not having time to slow down, to stop and to make time to connect with people like Rene's parents.  I told them I loved Rene and that he is a famous Mexican race car driver and when I saw the photo of them as a young couple on the wall, I commented on how much Rene looks like his father.

Rene's dear parents in Guadalupe.
After getting the trucks and trailers situated at TBZ, about 11 of us hopped into taxis and headed to our hotel in downtown Zacatecas, about 15 minutes away. By now all the race cars should be finished and partying!

A beautiful Dia De Los Muertos shrine at our hotel.

Linda Robertson goes gaga over TODD LANDON, as usual.  She loves to exclaim, "IS THAT TODD LANDON??" every time she sees him.  Makes me laugh every time.
The view of our beautiful hotel courtyard out our window.

Sarah and I headed downtown and the Cathedral for the festivities. 

I bumped into my Zacatecas stepsister, Claudia, and her son, Bernie along the way!  So nice to see her!
Rene with a very succesful 2010 LCP finish!  This was the first year that Team TBZ did not rotate drivers/navigators.  Rene drove the entire time with Geezer navigating - one for the record books!

John Greenwood with a stellar rookie finish in the Gypsy Wind with big brother, Ben.

Ben is always mackin on the hot chicks!

Geezer working the crowd.  Photo courtesy of Michael Emery, Lucha Libre Racing.
I actually missed seeing Geezer and Rene and the TBZ crew downtown - I guess they didn't stay too long.  I was sad not to celebrate with them.  Sarah and I hobnobbed and ran around and luckily I hadn't started drinking yet as my stomach was still giving me fits, because Dave Fuss found me and asked me if I could drive the Gypsy Wind back to the TBZ shop.  We were having trouble coordinating getting the cars out of downtown; it is always a crowded cluster down there.  I was stoked to get to drive!  Dave and I jumped in the GW and snuck out of the party area.  He asked if I knew how to get out of downtown...."Sure!" 

I figured if I pointed it the right way from where we were and kept heading downhill and to the left, we'd be okay.  We got lucky and ended up on the ramp to the highway straightaway.  I drove the GW quite a bit last summer in Colorado so she is comfortable to me and I was enjoying the drive after spending 8 days watching other people get to race.  But after my quick success getting us out of downtown I missed the turn to the shop, which is a really difficult one, and we spent an extra 15 minutes getting to the shop, which we could see but not get too.  Luckily we were both in good spirits and though it was getting dark, it was all good!  And I enjoyed the time with Dave now that the pressure of the race is done.

The TBZ shop full of race cars - Geezer loves it that way!
Once again I got in a taxi to head back downtown in the hopes of making it to the donkey walk on time.  My stomach was still jacked and I hadn't eaten properly in 3 days but the walk is not to be missed. 
A beautiful shot of the BON back at the hotel.

And the donkey walk begins.  I wasn't going to drink but then I decided that maybe a little tequila in me would kill whatever bug was in my stomach - it was worth a shot!
Pictures from the donkey walk are always jacked!!!

Ben, John and Dave firing up the first shots of tequila!

Jake!  What are you doing to Sarah?????

The beautiful party setup at the Quinta Real, a 400 year old bullring turned five star hotel in Zacatecas where the final awards ceremony was held.
The donkey walk ends up at the bullring, and like most of the logistics this year, it was a cluster inside.  It was pretty chilly outside so it was nice to be inside where it was warm, but we were also packed in like farm animals, in line to get into the bullring, we guessed.  It was rowdy and festive and everyone was happy.  As we got closer to entering we heard that they actually had a guest list and each driver and copilot could bring in a "date" and a certain number of crew people.  So we started pairing up right away and joking about who was dating who.  No one cared so long as we all got in.


I love the grumpy Geezer look here - I think he's hungry!  :)

I love the Original PanAm racers - they are all winners!

Eric and Fuss.

Eric on the podium representing Thierry and the BON, a 1st place finish on Day 7!  A consolation for all the missing and screwed up finishing times, I guess.

This was not for fun - it was FREEZING and the ceremony was going on forever.  We were lucky enough to join the table of crazy Canadians.

Ahhh...the morning after!  The race is over but there's no stopping yet.  We've got to get back to the shop, rustle up the gear, trucks, trailers, say goodbye, and get on the long road to make it to Laredo, Texas, tonight.

We found Sarah and said goodbye.  Geezer was going to drop her off at the bus station later today, where she'd catch a bus to Aguascalientes, stay in a hotel overnight and then taxi to the airport early in the morning to fly to Denver.  The girl is made for adventure.  It was a quick goodbye as I knew I'd see her in a few days in Denver before she returned to her home in Brisbane, Australia.

One last Mexican joyride - Todd and Kristin drive the BON back to TBZ before putting her on the trailer for the long ride home.

La Carrera was over yesterday and there are still LCP Porsches broken down on the road - seriously!

Geezer's office at TBZ with all the racing memorabilia.  It's his happy place.
Todd grabs his new father-in-law and pops open champagne to celebrate a another successful Mustangs To Go and TBZ finish.

Priceless times with my dad.
A pensive Gerie.

Rene's 1952 Chevy - it's a secret, but he's a Chevy guy!

What a long strange trip it's been.......

Another amazing crew:  Todd, Geezer, K, Brian, Dave.
Brian and Dave napping on the way home.

I'll be brief about the trip home.  We did not get an early enough start out of Zacatecas and we had wheel bearing trouble in the trailer just outside of Monterrey.  We took the BON out of the enclosed trailer, removed the trailer wheel, Todd started driving the BON and we got rolling again.  The fix was quick but it put us even further behind and it was dark as we hit a bad traffic jam on the tollway loop around Monterrey.  Monterrey makes me nervous.  Our options were to drive about 8 miles east into the heart of Monterrey to find a hotel near the airport, or keep going towards Nuevo Laredo and make the border.  Neither was a good choice.  We chose to keep going.  We hit a few road blocks and police/army checkpoints but luckily we were passed through.  I don't remember what time we hit the border but it was close to midnight. 

As we made the border and crossed into Laredo, TX, it was Friday night, two days before Halloween, and spooky backyard parties were in full swing just a block from the border.  We found our hotel a few miles up I35 and literally crashed.  I don't always realize the stress and tension I'm holding in during the race until I get back on U.S. soil and let down a bit.  I was very grateful to be home!