They’re still around, those motor racing monuments of days gone by. They don't take themselves too seriously though these days and after decades of blood, sweat and tears, they want to have more fun than suffering, but when it comes down to it, there is still only one thing that counts – driving flat out. And that means cars travelling at the limit for hours on end, drivers immersing themselves in a world of adrenalin and flow, each one competing against the stopwatch and the one competitor you know is breathing down your neck - or that you're his biggest headache, his nightmare.
They go by the name of Mille Miglia, Targa Florio or Carrera Panamericana and are true cathedrals of the full-throttle cult. In their current formats, however, the focus is no longer on the final result of the race, but on what it’s really all about. And what is that? It’s about the spirit of racing. It’s about the fundamental nature of a time when people still careered over the mountains at breakneck speed and made history in the process. In Mexico, for example, during the race that took competitors from the Guatemala border all the way north on open roads to Ciudad Juarez: the Carrera Panamericana. More than one legend was created here between rainforest and desert, and Porsche still names what is probably its most famous model after this race. And has every reason to do so.
With the 1952 race, in which two privately owned Porsche cars were entered, the Carrera Panamericana seared its way into the brand's consciousness and the realisation that triggered an immediate biting instinct - anyone who can win a race like that will have sold everything it has in stock just a short time later. Those were the rules of the game in the car business back in the early 1950s. The small German sports car brand had its sights set on the US market and the hardcore race through Mexico offered the promise of maximum publicity – provided it could win. In the case of the Carrera Panamericana in 1953, it was clear this would only work with an enormous amount of luck. In the end, the Porsche works team was constantly pursued by bad luck and it was once again private Porsche entrants who achieved victory in the Carrera that year. In 1954, Porsche was back, had done its homework and this time benefited from a huge portion of luck. The end of the race saw Porsche picking up a double class victory, with the two 550 Spyders driven by Hans Hermann and Jaroslav Juhan even taking third and fourth place in the overall standings. And Porsche has been celebrating ever since - with every model that bears the Spanish name for 'race': Carrera.
And now, 70 years after the first race was held, the Carrera Panamericana is still around, with 3,000 gruelling kilometres to complete across Mexico - and even today a Porsche is still a guarantee for a leading position in the race, in addition to providing that pure Panamericana feeling. Between 16 and 22 October 2020, Diego Candano, among others, will be flying the Porsche flag. His 1974 911 RSR Tribute is ideally suited to the roads of the Panamericana: weighing in at just 1,080 kg, but with the 385 bhp engine of a 993, the car is simply amazing and the Porsche family once again considers it has excellent chances of completing yet another chapter in the spectacular "Porsche Carrera" success story.
Further details at: lacarrerapanamericana.com.mx
Pictures: Ana Tello
FB: Ana Tello Photography