21 April 2016

2016 Chihuahua Express: Prep and Day 0 Prequalification and Señor Lechuga

Everything is going so smoothly we can't believe we are racing in Mexico! And then we remember we are at Chihuahua Express, not La Carrera Panamericana! This is a super well organized race with a classy and personable race director, Chacho Medina, and a great staff, and we love it. 

It is so great to see our wonderful once or twice a year racing friends. It is amazing the friendships we've built here over the last 10 years; these are the tops of the most positive, joyful, spirited, funny, sassy, generous and fun-loving people I know. 

My welcome crew at the airport was funny - El Fer standing alone holding a BABY CHICKEN sign, with Geezer appearing next and finally Rene. I wanted to hug them all forever. 

My welcome crew in Chihuahua - El Fer - love this man!

Geezer's Saleen is super cool and he loves it. He saw it for the first time in almost 9 months on Monday night. El Fer said he was like a little kid at Christmas. 

Geezer sees his Saleen for the first time since purchasing it in July.

I swore I was going to only have one tequila and go to bed before midnight the night I arrived, because it was the calm before the storm and only a handful of teams had arrived yet and most of those people were in bed early. But of course we ended up in the hotel bar until almost 1am and our regular waiter, Santiago, had already gone home. Jaja. Had a great time catching up with Rene and Ralf and El Fer after The Geezer went to bed. We talked about and were definitely missing some of our pals, Sarah MacKenzie we miss you!

Tuesday morning I woke up to this beautiful view of Chihuahua City from the Hotel Soberano on the hill. Yes, it's a Sheraton now but I'll always call it the Soberano. There is just something very funny about the word sober being in the name. 
View from our hotel room at the Soberano in Chihuahua.
We had a busy and productive day visiting with old friends, checking out everyone else's cars and checking our phones for the status of our friends who were stuck at the border in Presidio due to protests about the border patrol stealing cars. But eventually they got across. Quite a few people passed through El Paso/Juarez with no trouble at all and it seems the delays were mostly at the smaller crossings. Our friends Jake and Ralf were stuck at the border in Ojinaga for 9 hours, because Jake's truck was deemed "commercial." Jake is from Texas so you know his truck is big but it's not even a dually or quad cab, just a good ol' Texas truck. 

We passed both cars through Tech very smoothly, thanks to the excellent pre work Geezer, Rene and the whole TBZ Racing crew do. Geezer is a mechanical engineer and project manager and built aluminum beer can plants most of his career; turnkey operations from breaking ground on the building to running the plant once it was built. So in his planning, no stone goes unturned!  Even from our start at LCP in 2006, he built a bombshell of a car, super durable, he understood he needed a car that could be abused for 2,000 miles and still run like the wind. And 10 years later he and Rene have the annual rebuild down to a science.  Rene gets a lot of credit here too - he can diagnose and fix anything, and fast!

Checking out the Saleen for the first time Tuesday morning.
Last night at dinner El Fer had a local friend join us. We were going around the table introducing ourselves and Geezer said, "I am Hector." We all cackled quietly while Fer's friend tried to figure us out. Then he said, "Hector Lechuga, mucho gusto." Where does he come up with this stuff? Lechuga means lettuce, Mr. Lettuce to you! So now we call him Señor Lechuga. 

Senor Hector Lechuga
Although we've been to and raced ChiX collectively many times since it started over 10 years ago, we have never run El Jefe until now. So this will be fun! And we've never been in The Tour so we think that will be fun too. 

Geezer and Baby Chicken going through Registration and Medical.

Rene is the master at putting on stickers!
Tavo, Tio Rene y Tonio
Racers are just beginning to arrive.
Kaming Ko's Dart - always the wild one.
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Yeri Bledsoe's new Nova
Rene, Yeri and Yeri's brother Guy
Tuesday evening we had a young boy and his family join us from an organization similar to Make A Wis Foundation. He wants to be a race car driver and he's not going to let leukemia get in his way and neither are we. He arrived in a Lightning McQueen race suit and got to sit in the cars, wear transit headsets, and go for rides in both El Jefe and El Bandido. They took hundreds of pictures which will be sold later for the cause. What a cute and joyful kid, his name is Julian and he was so stoked he was actually pretty quiet but his smile was not quiet! Thanks to Erika Serrano and El Fer for organizing it, and the organization leader who said a beautiful prayer for Julian and his family and also the safety of us racers. 

Julian, our little amigo with the dream of becoming a race car driver!
Julian, his mother and Rene.

Kristin and Julian's father.

Today was the Day 0 prequalification run (named for our amigo, the late racer Steve Waldman) and Geezer and I watched the 10km speed stage from about the middle with our crew, Tonio and Tavo it was super fun and El Jefe ran great with Rene driving and The General navigating. 

Tonight there is a super cool ceremony downtown to show off the cars and be treated to native dress and music and a ceremony where they sage our helmets as a blessing of safety. I am going to miss this because I have been in bed with Montezuma's Revenge for 7 hours, grrr. I need to be well by tomorrow morning to drive El Bandido!
First team meeting for the Schellers and the Gregorys - sometimes it's a family affair!
The Old Guard:  Guy Bledsoe, Gerie "Yeri" Bledsoe, Frank Oliveto and the Geezer.
Shady characters Tavo and Baby Chicken in the country north of Chihuahua watching the Day 0 prequalification run with Geezer and Tonio in the background.

El Jefe roaring by during prequalification with Rene driving and Stewie navigating.


We are 20th overall but not everyone ran. Day 0 just determines your place on the starting line tomorrow. Best to be cool and go medium speed. 

This stuff saved me.


Unknown said...

Hope you have dried up. Tell Yeri to drop his redline 500 so he can finish and El Jefe can stay ahead! Would love to be there to put a little pressure on Carson.

Unknown said...

Yikes, what kind ofMini is that in pole position? Please give my regards to the Gregorys, Carson, Ralf, Doug, and Anjelica.