These blog entries are pretty rough; I don't know how I used to articulately blog when I was young (i.e. 2006) AND race AND party!
I got up around 7am, which wasn’t too bad, and had a WTF moment when a guy banged on my door at 7:10am and I was in scanty PJs and he said he needed to check the mini-bar. Ummm, okay. He did and he left. I don’t know, I don’t ask, I just keep rolling!
I got to the truck and Rene said, “Where you been?” I was 2 minutes late. I said, “You said 8am,” and he said, “I said 7:30am.” Umm, okay, just keep rolling.
So Rene, Bimbo, Tonio and I headed for the mountains to meet the race car at service. It was a long morning climbing several mountain passes in the rain and fog that were nearly 9,000 feet in elevation. The temperature was a perfect 72 when we left Veracruz and now we were a wet, cold 56 in the mountains.
The guys listen to fantastic music and for that I am grateful. My favorite was sort of a techno tune that went,”LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG, BAD GIRLS DO IT WELL!” I was thinking, “This is THE best radio station in all of Mexico” and later I realized it was Tonio’s iPod. Jajaja! I love the music but I’m absolutely going to more deaf than I was when I arrived here.
We stopped for breakfast in a gas station and since I don’t eat bread or cheese or any number of other things, I got a New Mix for breakfast. The closest thing to New Mix is a Bud Light Lime-A-Rita and if you’ve had one of those nasty tonics you know the taste is pure chemical but for some reason you keep drinking them. New Mix is bad tequila with different flavors of soda. When I drink a New Mix I go into a coma about a half hour later so my 10am liquid breakfast enabled me to pass out for most of the next 2 hours, which was quite nice!
This morning Rene said he was talking to Gil and he felt pretty sick and was looking pretty peaked. I have been telling everyone that I have my suit on and I’m ready to step in for most anyone, should anyone be too sick to compete. Not to wish anyone to be sick but we are in Mexico and lots of gringos get sick.
I called my mom to check in and put her on speakerphone and she sang La Bamba for us and the boys laughed. I usually call my mom from the top of 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado, where there is almost always a good cell signal and my friends know now to ask her to sing. The usual request is an Irish ditty called Tura Lura so we got her to sing a few bars of that too until we were all laughing. She has a beautiful voice and she’s usually up for a little fun time. Just as we were talking Bimbo motioned out the window and there was the Pico de Orizaba, an impressive spire high in the sky covered in snow! We were only about 3 hours from the coast – what a sight to see! I love this country and all of its mountains and the varying beautiful terrain in between.
We thought we were about 30 km from service and knew the first car was in at 1pm. I read the Service Book and read that we were supposed to be there at 11:30am because we were coming in on the route that the race cars would take to come out. Shit. There was less and less traffic on this windy mountain ride and we hoped for over an hour that they wouldn’t close the stage and we’d miss service. We snuck in around 2pm and what a cluster. I had read that there were two Pemex gas stations so when we didn’t find El Jefe we went to the next Pemex and found them. Geezer was worried about us, that we had had a crash or problems with the truck. I had called him 20 min prior but he left his phone in the truck and Stewie doesn’t bring his cell phone. Ahh, the joys of miscommunication on La Carrera! Happens every time!
The car battery was dead this morning because we left the trip computer on and Stewie said they had to get a jump later in the morning. The first speed stage was cancelled because of rain but they ran the rest of them well and were having fun. There was a ton of large gravel with tar on it in the engine compartment. Stewie later told me that the car was really gassy in the cab and they both got headaches. It took them a while to figure out you could open the small side windows only if you opened the door, because the rollbar is in the way. Yeri said the tar on the gravel melted their power steering pump hose and it failed. Hey, you never know what’s going to happen!
We headed out after service and headed to Oaxaca, up and down more majestic mountain passes and sometimes getting stuck behind my favorite, doble remolques (double semi-trailers). How those guys navigate those passes with double long semi trailers, I will never figure out! It is hard enough in our truck and trailer.
I love Oaxaca and I love Hotel Victoria. We got there, checked in and since El Jefe wasn’t there yet, I snuck into the bar and had an amazing sipper of local smoked Mescal. Happy! And the best tacos arracheras every. My view was unsurpassed. I really love this place. Even the bar snacks – peanuts with roasted pieces of garlic – are the best. So I had some solitude and enjoyed every minute. Chip Fudge came in and said they threw a rod in his Fastback and did I have Mats Hammarlund’s phone number? I didn’t but gave him Yeri’s number and he was grateful. Jack Rogers ended up giving Chip his spare motor – both are such good guys!
Finally saw Stewie and Geezer around 9pm and they were absolutely exhausted and sitting in the hotel room in their suits. They asked me to go to the driver’s meeting downtown, which is mandatory, and I was happy to do that. I showered quickly and rode the rowdy shuttle bus full of drivers and navigators downtown to a historic hotel where the party was. They had quite a spread of food and once the ceremony started around 9:45pm, it went pretty fast. I was super pleased to see we were 4th in class and 45th overall. It is funny though because we are on the second page (we hate the second page) and pretty far down in a field of 85 starting cars, and 1st in our class is Paul Hladky at 6th overall. Okay, we don’t feel super bad because Paul could win the entire race.
El Fer and Yeri were in the lobby, still in their suits because the hotel didn’t have their reservation and they didn’t have their luggage. That’s a bit to handle after a long first day, but it’s what we deal with after we survive a day of dangerous racing. Saw Angelica and she had a sad face on and said they did not have a good day. I gave her a hug and didn’t ask any questions.
We heard that Memo Rojas crashed but they are okay and will run again tomorrow after working on it through the evening. The Alfa named “Plato Volador” had some trouble but will hopefully run again in the morning. Geezer named it the Alfa-ito and Christine liked that.
I was back at the Hotel Victoria by 11pm, riding in a taxi with Carson and Lauren. That has to be a record for in and out of the driver’s meeting downtown. Rene joined me in the bar, as well as Steve and we drank mescal and laughed. There was a lounge band playing with a keyboardist/vocalist, another vocalist and a bongo player and they were good.
On my way down to the bungalow I shared with Stewie, I chatted with “Cowboy” the mechanic for the Australian Holden. What a character. As he likes to say, “The car has a lot of passion put into it” and it is evident by the workmanship. One prominent logo is “Ryan’s” which Cowboy explained was the name of the driver’s dad’s blacksmith shop many years ago and when his dad saw it he teared up. Good stuff. Cowboy had named the Mexican crew from VP Racing Shorty, Slim and Skippy, pretty funny.
|A wedding gift for a dear friend of mine who was just married last month in a Dia de Los Muertos-themed wedding! I hope you like this beautiful calavera, Meaux & Jason!|
|Climbing one of the many 8500 feet passes today from the Veracruz coast to Oaxaca. Rough roads, fog and double semi-trailers made it difficult driving.|
|It was wet and cold - love these hard core cyclists!|
|Coming into noon service which was unsurprisingly, a real cluster.|
|A beautiful Triumph.|
|El Jefe is running great! The engine compartment was full of large gravel coated in tar, which burned and smelled. One of the pieces actually melted Gerie's power steering hose on his Studebaker.|
|"Hello? Parts, we need some parts, Clay!"|
|Gotta love the spirit of Kaming Ko's team!|
|Bimbo riding on the outside of Big Mama to our hotel.|
|Ahhh, this is my version of heaven on earth - the view from the open air bar at Hotel Victoria, looking over the beautiful city of Oaxaca. Just leave me here.|
|Taylor and Chip Fudge after blowing the motor on their Mustang. In just a few phone calls another competitor, Jack Rogers, loaned them his spare motor. Viva the spirit of Carrera!|
|One of my many happy places.|
|This beautiful photo stolen from Facebook - please let me know if this is yours and I will give you credit!|
|Tired boys after a long and successful Day 1.|
|The boys checking over El Jefe as I headed downtown to the driver's meeting on a rowdy shuttle bus full of drivers and navigators.|
|Beautiful Chris Gregory at the hotel.|
|The coolest team shirts!|
|Turismo Produccion on the podium on Day 1 - congrats!|
|Lauren Scheller and I enjoying the cab ride|
|Lounge singers at the Hotel Victoria - they were good!|
|Eric, Flo and Brian doing some serious late night work on Martin's Taxi.|