Since 1977

Since 1977, I have written more than 300 000 kilometers of words, that is to say put end to end, one way trip from Earth to the Moon. Or a second to light for this trip. A second light words in 30 years, some 3 billion signs.



Panamericana 1950

After the Mexican section of the Pan-American Highway was completed in 1950, a nine-stage, six-day race across the country was organized by the Mexican government to celebrate its achievement and to attract international business. The 1950 race ran almost entirely along the new highway which crossed the country from north to south for a total distance of over 2,096 miles (3,373 kilometers).
The first of five annual races began in May 1950 and was entered by racers from all over the world representing virtually every motor sport: Formula One, sports cars, rallying, stock cars, endurance racing, hill climbing, and drag racing. Because it started at the border with Texas, it was especially attractive to all types of American race drivers from Indy cars to NASCAR. Bill France, the founder of NASCAR, was there for the first race as well as later races. The Mexican government's representatives worked closely with the American Automobile Association and other motorsports groups in the United States to organize and promote the event which was limited to stock sedans with five seats. Piero Taruffi and Felice Bonetto, both Italian F1 drivers, entered a pair of Alfa Romeo coupes especially constructed for the event. However, many of the 132 competitors were ordinary unsponsored citizens from the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere.
The first race ran from north to south beginning in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the international borderfrom El Paso, Texas, and finishing in Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, Chiapas (formerly known as El Ocotal) on the Guatemala-Mexico border opposite from La Mesilla, Guatemala. At least one stage was run each day for six consecutive days. The elevation changes were significant: from 328 feet (100 m) to 10,482 feet (3,195 m) above sea level, requiring among other modifications the rejetting of carburetors to cope with thinner air. Most the race was run between 5,000 feet (1,500 m) and 8,000 feet (2,400 m).
The first four places were won by American cars and American drivers. The winner, Hershel McGriff, drove an Oldsmobile 88 at an average speed of 142 km/h (88 mph). Though less powerful, the car was substantially lighter than its big Lincoln and Cadillac competitors, meaning that it would eventually pull away from them on the steep, winding course. The car (which had cost McGriff only $1,900, when the winner's purse was $17,000), had another advantage in its weight - it was much easier to stop, meaning that McGriff finished the race on his original brake shoes when the big cars were re-shoeing every night. The reason that this was so important was that neither McGriff nor his co-driver were capable of even the most basic maintenance to the car. McGriff also noted that the control afforded by his manual gearbox gave him a significant advantage the last day on the gravel roads in Chiapas, when he finally passed the Cadillac leading the race. The best placed European car was an Alfa Romeo sedan driven by Italian driver, Felice Bonetto.

Ciudad Juarez , Arrivals of The HERBIE Team

 1954 Very Strong Victory of Ferrari.
Umberto Maglioli, was like Fangio a very serious competitor.



1951   212E #34 Taruffi/Chinetti
  212E #9 Ascari/Villoresi


  212E #5 Echevarria/Becerril

  250S #8 Bracco/Bronzoni
  212E #9 Hill/Stubbs
  212E #12 Aguilar/Ramirez
  212E #13 Iberra/Solares
  340 #14 Ascari/Scotuzzi
  340M #16 Villoresi/Cassani
  340A #17 J.Mcafee/E.Mcafee
  340M #20 Chinetti/Lucas


  340M #4 Hill/Ginther

  250MM #5 Ruiz/Villegas
  375MM #12 Maglioli
  375MM #15 Stagnoli/Scotuzzi
  375MM #23 Salviati/Ricci
  375MM #26 Mancini/Serena
  375MM #45 Chinetti/dePortago


  375+ #1 J.Macfee/Robertson

  750 #2 dePortago
  500 #3 Rubirosa/E.Macfee
  375MM #4 Bonomi/Peyloubet (sn #0358AM)
  750 #14 Bracco/Livocchi
  375+ #19 Maglioli
  375MM #20 Hill/Ginther
  250 Monza #22 Cornacchia
  375MM #24 Chinetti/Shakespeare

Affiche de la 5eme Carrera du 19 au 23 Novembre 1954.

Panamericana 1951

The following year, the race was run from south to north, starting in Tuxtla Gutierez, Chiapas and finishing in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua because of the lack of accommodation available for race officials, drivers, crews and press in El Ocotal and the jungle. This northerly direction also allowed the U.S. drivers to finish at their border. For the first time, a European manufacturer entered a 'factory' team, Ferrari entering several cars including a 212 Export LWB Vignale, and although these did not technically satisfy the requirements of the touring car category, the Italians were permitted to compete anyway.
The race would prove to exact a heavy toll upon drivers. At the start of the race, José Estrada, a prosperous Mexico City car dealer and a veteran racer, announced: "I will win, or die trying." On the first stage, his 1951 Packard skidded off the road and tumbled 630 feet (190 m) down into a ravine. Both Estrada and co-driver Miguel González died in a Oaxaca hospital later that afternoon. The next day claimed Carlos Panini, Italian in origin, and a pioneer of Mexican aviation - in 1927 he had established Mexico's first scheduled airline, which he sold in 1951 with plans for his retirement. He is credited with being the first pilot to fly a light plane around the world. The fatal accident occurred on the second day, during the second stage from Oaxaca to Puebla. Although the registered driver for the race was Carlos' daughter Teresa, he was at the wheel of car, despite not having a valid license and being in poor health. The accident happened while a young Bobby Unser was trying to overtake Panini, as Unser related in his book "Winners Are Driven: A Champion's Guide to Success in Business & Life":
On the second day, we were in seventeenth and coming up to pass the car of millionaire Carlos Panini and his daughter, Terresita. She was the registered driver. However, Carlos was behind the wheel instead and was in ill-health. He shouldn't have been driving. He didn't even have a driver's license. The rules were that the slower car was to allow the faster car to pass if the faster car honked its horn. We were in the mountains, and I came up to Carlos and honked, but he wouldn't let me pass. This went on through about ten turns, with Carlos blocking me each time. We were probably doing about 90 miles per hour at this point. The next time I tried to pass him, he bumped my right-front fender, which almost pushed me off a sheer cliff to the left that was some 500 to 800 feet down. My left front tire went over the edge, but fortunately I regained control of the car. Carlos over-corrected his car to the right, and went straight into a solid rock wall. The car exploded on impact like an egg hitting a sidewalk. I didn't know it at the time, but Carlos was killed instantly. One of the rules of the race was if you stopped to help anyone, you were automatically disqualified... Seeing the explosive impact, I wanted to stop to help, but daddy told me to keep going. He knew the rules and told me that people were there to help. That was hard for me - I slowed down to about 15 or 20 miles per hour. He insisted that I keep going, and grimly, I did.

Unser managed to control his Jaguar, while Panini's 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS collided with the cliff face. Ricardo Ramírez of Mexico City abandoned the race to rush the Paninis to a hospital in Puebla, but he was announced dead on arrival. Teresa Panini survived the accident with minor injuries. The deaths of two well-known Mexican sportsmen in the first two days of the race brought some reactions of horror and indignation. A government official publicly branded the race "an imitation of North American customs not suited to Mexican characteristics." The press went off on a crusade; Mexico City's  El Universal declared that permitting such dangerous shenanigans was a "crime."
Although the first two places were predictably won by the works Ferraris (driven by Piero Taruffi and Alberto Ascari respectively), third and fourth places were won by ordinary American cars. Bill Stirling, a salesman from El Paso, Texas, won third place in a Chrysler Saratoga and well-known race car driver Troy Ruttman won fourth in a flat-head Mercury which he reportedly had bought for $1,000 in a used car lot in El Monte, California. In spite of this he was able to defeat several of the factory Lancias and Ferraris.

In 1952 the Carrera Panamericana saw the introduction of two categories - Sports Cars and Stock Cars, dividing what had previously been a single class, so American heavy saloons did not have to compete directly with the nimble European sports cars. The major automobile manufacturers had taken notice of the race and Mercedes-Benz sent a highly organized group of people and cars to the race. First and second places were won by Karl Kling and Herman Lang, driving the 300SL. This group may well have achieved a 1-2-3 finish had American John Fitch not been disqualified for permitting a mechanic to touch his 300SL on the penultimate day. American Chuck Stevenson won the touring car class in a Lincoln Capri.

The Mercedes 300SL of K. Kling & H. Klenk following the impact of a vulture to the windscreen
Famously, the victory of the Mercedes-Benz of Kling and Hans Klenk came despite the car being hit by a Vulture in the windscreen. During a long right-hand bend in the opening stage, taken at almost 200 km/h (120 mph), Kling failed to spot vultures sitting by the side of the road. As the birds scattered at the sound of the virtually unsilenced 300SL, one impacted through the windscreen on the passenger side, briefly knocking co-driver and navigator Klenk unconscious. Despite bleeding badly from facial injuries from the shattered windscreen, Klenk ordered Kling to maintain speed, and held on until a tyre change almost 70 km (43 mi) later to wash himself and the car of blood, bird and glass. For extra protection, eight vertical steel bars were bolted over the new windscreen. Kling and Klenk also discussed the species and size of the dead bird, agreeing that it was a bird with a minimum 115-centimetre (45 in) wingspan and weighing as much as five fattened geese
Less famously, but with far greater implications, was the innovative use of pre-prepared 'pace-notes' which allowed Klenk to ascertain and communicate upcoming road bends in rapid shorthand to Kling. This system proved so effective that it is used in all motorsports involving a navigator today (such as rallying).

Jaguar C-Type XKC 029 – Car Profile and Photo Gallery

The Jaguar C-Type (also called the Jaguar XK120-C) is a racing sports car built by Jaguar and sold from 1951 to 1953. The “C” designation stood for “competition”. The car used the running gear of the contemporary XK120 in a lightweight tubular frame and aerodynamic aluminium body. A total of 52 C-Types were built.
The road-going XK120’s 3.4-litre twin-cam, straight-6 engine produced between 160 and 180 bhp. The version in the C-Type was originally tuned to around 205 bhp. Later C-Types were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber carburettors and high-lift camshafts. They were also lighter, and from 1952 braking performance was improved by disc brakes on all four wheels. The lightweight, multi-tubular, triangulated frame was designed by Bob Knight. The aerodynamic body was designed by Malcolm Sayer. Made of aluminium in the barchetta style, it was devoid of road-going items such as carpets, weather equipment and exterior door handles.
The C-Type was successful in racing, most notably at the Le Mans 24 hours race, which it won twice.
In 1951 the car won at its first attempt. The factory entered three, whose driver pairings were Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and 3-times Mille Miglia winner Clemente Biondetti, and the eventual winners, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead. The Walker/Whitehead car was the only factory entry to finish, the other two retiring with lack of oil pressure. A privately entered XK120, owned by Robert Lawrie, co-driven by Ivan Waller, also completed the race, finishing 11th.
In 1952 Jaguar, worried by a report about the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SLs that would run at Le Mans, modified the C-Type’s aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, the consequent rearrangement of the cooling system made the car vulnerable to overheating. All three retired from the race.
In 1953 a Jaguar C-Type won again. This time the body was in thinner, lighter aluminium and the original twin H8 sand cast SU carburettors were replaced by three DCO3 40mm Webers, which helped boost power to 220 bhp. The most significant change to the cars was the switch to disc brakes. Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt won the race at 105.85 mph, the first time Le Mans had been won at an average of over 100 miles per hour.
1954, the C-Type’s final year at Le Mans, saw a fourth place by the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Roger Laurent and Jacques Swaters.
1952 Jaguar C-Type XKC 029.

XKC 029 was originally exported via the Californian Jaguar dealer Hornburg to Mexico. It ran in both the 1953 and 1954 Carrera Panamericana races with sponsorship from the state of Mexico ‘Estado de Mexico’ in 1953 and ‘Veracruz’ in 1954, making it the only Jaguar C-Type to have competed on the original Carrera Panamericana. The driver for both years was local legend ‘Paco’ Ibarra and in 1954 he was partnered by Nickey Pinal.
XKC 029 subsequently returned to the UK and was owned by one family for some thirty years.
Highly original throughout, XKC 029 has been returned to its 1954 livery and, as you can see from the photos, looks fabulous. It caused a stir at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed where it was demonstrated on behalf of the owner. It was then invited that August to attend The Quail in California where it won its class.
The 1952 Jaguar C-Type XKC 029 was sold by London-based historic automobile dealer, Fiskens ( They currently offer C-Type XKC 030, called the “most competitively campaigned C-type ever and, quite possibly, that of all Jaguars.


  1. Great collection of memories from the five years of the original Carrera.

  2. Can I request a couple of these pix to repost onto my FB site called Looking Back Racing? May I also invite you and your visitors to visit there?

  3. Do you have pictures of #59 Porsche 356 that ran the V Carrera Panamericana with Otto Becker?