Considered the most dangerous race in the world, the legendary Carrera Panamericana is quite unique in this day and age. Having started in 1950, this treacherous event is the last true road race that takes place in Mexico.
Viva la Carrera!, written by Werner Jessner with photographs from Marcelo Maragni will be available in Red Bulletin's March issue, documenting and illustrating the volatility this race presents. As this exclusive from Red Bull suggests, the inimitability of the Carrera Panamericana offers speed, danger and an unusual look of nostalgia cars that resemble racing from a bygone era - but in a newer form.
Organized by the Mexican government, the more than 2,000 mile race was a publicity effort to promote the new Pan American Highway after the section in Mexico was completed. From the unsafe and bloody beginnings of this historic event, the Carrera Panamericana early history was short lived when the race was cancelled following 1954, after too many deaths (though no official record is known). The event did not resume until 1988.
Under the auspices of reducing bloodshed due to the many inherent and obvious dangers the event exposed, one memorable situation was in 1953 when purportedly the Mexican National Army was told to shoot any man or beast who crossed the road during the race. An odd way to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, regardless of the reasoning.
Whether it was people or animals crossing the road or the ravines and rocks that tore wheels and axles off, the Carrera Panamericana was and is an ultimate seven day test of vehicle and driver. The cars appear to be the same vehicles that raced back in the ‘50s; but underneath the bodies are modern high horse-powered machines, capable of going nearly 200 mph.
Seen through the drivers eyes
The story will also be told through the eyes of skilled drivers such as Mexico’s own Memo Rojas who as one of the contestants, is nearly at wits end trying to navigate the perilous stages. Rojas, whose father won the reincarnation of the event back in ’88, tries to illuminate the anxious risks saying,
“That’s the first time I’ve ever been afraid in a car. Barreling along at 180 in this piece of junk, I was scared.”
Considering the winning average speed 60 years ago was nearly 140 mph, it isn’t inconceivable that hazards, safety and ultimately the driver’s welfare were in such obvious danger ... even if it was the new Pan American Highway. As for the route itself is concerned, last year started in Veracruz on the southern Gulf of Mexico and ended up in the mountainous area of Zacatecas in north central Mexico.
Take a look at the exclusive photos here and once again, we have to thank Red Bulletin for the early access (see excerpts) to an incredible story – Viva la Carrera! – a race that has to be considered one the great events in motorsports.
Source: Red Bull