La Carrera Panamericana (1950-1954), The Mexican Road Race, was one of the most famous events in auto racing history, attracting the world's greatest drivers. It was canceled in 1955 because of the cost and concerns about safety. In 1988 the event was revived as an open-road race (stage rally) and for twenty-eight years has offered both professional and amateur drivers an opportunity to experience the thrills and challenges of the original Pan- Am. Today it is unique in the world—driving at top speed on public highways, mostly through the mountains of central Mexico for a week.
Each year one hundred colorful, vintage cars line up in southern Mexico to race nearly 1800 miles north. The event passes though the heart of the country, a string of impressive mountains and beautiful colonial cities. The Mexican Highway Patrol, whose top officers travel with the race, clears the highways for the timed speed runs. Along the way, two million spectators cheer the race cars along.
Each night the race stops in a different city. In a typical year the Pan Am will start in Veracruz on the Gulf Coast and stop for the night in cities like Oaxaca, Puebla, Mexico City, Querétaro, Morelia, Zacatecas, and end in Durango. Except for Veracruz, these cities are at high altitude, so the weather is typically cool and clear.
The Mexican Road Race is always an adventure. Getting a race cars to the starting city can be a challenge. The Pan-Am remains a serious test of drivers and their cars, and a major cultural experience. Just finishing the race in Zacatecas or Durango after seven long days behind the wheel is a major accomplishment. Earning a spot on the podium is a huge bonus. It's a lifetime of memories.