The hardest test

Original by James K. AUTO SPORT Review Lamona United States, March 1953. (Translated from English by Eric Rodriguez in July 2002)

Mexican Highway, 3114 km that stretches from south to north from Tuxtla to Juarez is, according to Alfred Neubauer, a combination of the Tripoli Grand Prix, the "Mille Miglia" Italian, German "Nurburgring" and the 24 Hours of Le-Mans. Herr Neubauer should know, because it was under his leadership as Director of Competition, which the German teams of Mercedes Benz defeated the most formidable registered in England, France and Italy on the European continent for the past 25 years.

Exactly what makes La Carrera Mexicana ("The Mexican Road Race") so HARD? It is a combination of several things. The tour begins in a tropical climate where the temperature is high and humid and extends along a road that goes from sea level to the sweltering height of t he three thousand meters! Temperature variations range from 34 degrees down to a couple of degrees before freezing, all in 72 hours.


Even the most careful engine tuning, testing and selection of spark plugs carburization require changes approximately every 160 km-I. Engines that perform miraculously sounded thousand feet dying at three thousand, and pilots who refused to change spark plugs for colder ones for after Durango soon realized the great importance of this. The Mexican race was very hard for both drivers and the equ-ipo. The road is paved with a mixture of volcanic ash and that this substance, which is highly abrasive, cut a perfectly new tire on a passenger car to a "bald" in a distance of thousand miles.

1. º Career (1950) H. Mcgriff / (USA) Oldsmobile 88 27h3425"
2. º Career (1951) Taruffi Pietro (ITA) Ferrari 212 Inter 21h5752"
3. º Career (1952) Karl Kling (GER) Mercedes Benz 300 SL 18h5119"
4. º Career (1953) Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) 18h LanciaD241100"
5. º Career (1954) Maglioli Umberto (ITA) 17h Ferrari375Plus4026"

Final Order - 3rd Carrera Panamericana SPORT
1. Karl Kling, Stuttgart, Germany, Mercedes-Benz, 18:51.19 ($17,422).
2. Hermann Lang, Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz, 19:26.30 ($11,628).
3. Luigi Chinetti, Moderna, Italy, Ferrari 4.1, 19:32.45 ($6,977).
4. Humberto Maglioli Biella, Italy, Lancia, 20:11.20, ($4,651).
5. Jack McAfee, Manhattan Beach, Calif.., 4.1 Ferrari, 20:21.15, ($2907).
6. Phil Hill, Santa Monica, Calif.., 2.7 Ferrari, 20:33.46, ($581.40).
7. Paco Ibarra, Mexico City, Ferrari, 23:14.48, ($581.40)
8. Furst Metternich, Germany, 1.5 Porch, 23:18.15, ($581.40)
9. Peredo Enrique Ortiz, Mexico City, Lancia, 23:52.47, ($581.40)
10. Douglas Ehlinger, Puebla, Mex., Jaguar XK-120, 24:37.37, ($581.40)

1. Chuck Stevenson, Fresno, Calif.., Lincoln, 21:15.38, ($11,628)
2. Johnny Mantz, Los Angeles, Lincoln, 21:16.09 ($5814)
3. Walt Faulkner, Long Beach, Calif.., Lincoln, 21:20.27, ($2907)
4. Bob Korf, Wright - Patterson AFB, Dayton, O. Lincoln, 21:25.09, ($1744)
5. Reginald McFee, Rochester, NY 1951 Chrysler, 21:43.00, (1162)
6. CD Evans, El Paso, Texas, Chrysler, 21:54.55, ($581.40)
7. Marshall Teague, Daytona Beach, Fla., Hudson, 22:08.00, ($581.40)
8. Kirby Dean Murr, Tampa, Fla., Cadillac, 22:17.50, ($581.40)
9. (Tie) Jean Trevoux, Mexico City, Packard, 22:35.00, (581.40)
10. Allen Heath, North Ridge, Calif.., Chrysler, 22:35.00, (581.40)

The first to get out of the awards of "stocks", in 11th position, was the champion last year, Piero Taruffi, Rome, who made an Oldsmobile 22:43.59. The only woman in the race, Evans Jaqueline Mexico City, finished 27th in one place with 26:34.05 Chrysler. Douglas Ellinger, who drove a modified Jaguar Roadster 1952, reported nine punctures and the use of more than twenty wheels torn between Tuxtla and goal in Juarez! The abrasive action of the bed asphalt heated by the sun caused the tires on the Mercedes Benz of John Fitch to divest themselves of their passage in the first phase, from Tuxtla to Oaxaca, a distance of 530 kilometers. The speed at which Fitch was driving, the loose pieces of rubber cut through its lightweight aluminum rear bumper, needing repairs to the side of the road even before the first day ended.

Karl Kling and Herman Lang had other reasons to call it "an ordeal." Kling, the leader and eventual champion, complained of wandering cattle, while Lang noted the eight strong steel bars placed in front of your windshield to prevent vulture collided against his face. One of these birds if they collided with the car as he went to Lang over 160 km per hour. The flying monster half shattered windshield, cutting the copilot in several parts and then flying back glass throwing splinters and shards of glass all over the inside of the race car. Everyone in the small town of Tuxtla were in the starting line early in the morning of November 19. Representatives of the press both Mexican Americans and Europeans were busy concentrating his interest in sports inscriptions.

Lucky, Kling and his car ready to boot from Tuxtla...

The angry driver when the Lancia Bonetto hit the first day of competition. (Associated Press)

Chuck Stevenson, whose Lincoln won its category, receives a warm welcome in Juárez. (Associated Press)? Chinetti Ferrari out of Juárez after putting in a third place. (Wide World)? Land rocky first day destroys the hopes of Italian Ascari.? Bracco output expected to Mexico City - was leading. Seventy-five cars of type "stock" and thirty-four "sports" were aligned to the exit. In Juárez, five days later, only eleven cars "sports" appeared on the goal, followed by thirty-nine "stocks" Americans, of which the first four were Lincolns 1953 205 horsepower.

The spirit of friendship and camaraderie that prevailed, not only before the start, but also at the end of each stage can not be fully described. Those who knew the route were eager to help the pilots who would travel for the first time. Experienced people from the United States exchanged information with the experts of Grand Prix racing across the Atlantic and exchanges and loans of tires, tools and equipment were examples of good will and cooperation.


Most sawn rival international car racing world now laughed, ate and drank together, discussing theories and gave words of warning to the newcomers. Novice riders and enthusiastic professional management techniques discussed and consulted each other about the pressure of the tires, spark plugs spacing settings and the carburetion. It was a splendid display of international sportsmanship.

The Italians, who successfully obtained the first and second place in the second edition of the race in 1951, were the favorites. It was generally accepted that the World Champion Alberto Ascari and Giovanni Bracco, both driving Ferraris model "Mexico" 12 cylinder specially manufactured, it would steal the show. Ascari spun early in the first stage, eliminating the biggest threat to the German team of Mercedes Benz.

Gordini was the little French, managed by former world champion motorcycle Jean Behra, who made history. Without a copilot, Behra negotiated using the tricky mountain road and won the first stage. His searing average of 143 km / h set a new record on the stage of 533 km. In Oaxaca, that night the Italian Bracco, driving a Ferrari, became the second fastest time, and German as before the war, Kling was the third closest.