Last week I got a newsletter from Gerie Bledsoe, the American and Canadian Co-ordinator, and knower of all things related to La Carrera Panamericana. Gerie’s newsletter pointed out that a few very experienced racers will be entering this year’s La Carrera Panamericana. The following report is taken directly from Gerie’s newsletter:
“The evolution of the Pan Am continues this year with three or four more pro drivers from Europe showing up to run in an amateur event. Does it add luster to the event, discourage amateurs, or both? Given the level of talent being recruited, maybe the rank amateurs should be flattered to be allowed to race with these guys. Maybe it should be known as a “pro-am”?
Kenny Brack from Sweden (car #110) raced 59 races and won 5 races in CART in 2000-2002 before a near fatal crash ended his Indy car career. Now he races in less dangerous events, including the X Games.
Stefan Johannson, another Swede, also shows up on some LCP entry lists. He participated in Formula One in 1980, then 1983-91, driving for Ferrari, McLaren, or other teams in a total of 79 races. He finished on the podium 12 times.
Of course, there is Jochen Mass, from Germany, another former Formula One driver, who nursed a Mustang with a bad cylinder to a top ten finish last year. This may be his year to capture Historic C and be a contender for the overall podium. One wonders if the organizers will list him among the top five finishers. Jochen is a true believer in the Carrera ethos.
Jonkheer Gijsbert van Lennep (say that after three margaritas) will be racing the “State of Art” Porsche 356 in Original Pan Am. He had eight Formula One races, and raced LeMans for seven years, serving as a co-driver with some more well-known drivers, including Jacky Ickx. He also won the British sports car championship one year.
Michel Jourdain (Mexico), who won the Carrera two years ago, is listed as a competitor on the official website; however, his participation may be pending sponsorship. Jourdain qualified for the Indy 500 this year, finishing in the top twenty. He has been active in the IRL, CART (1997-2004), and NASCAR Busch series. In 2011 he won the Chihuahua Express, and was the presumptive favorite to win the Pan Am last October, However, he blew his engine the first day and had a couple of off-road excursions while trying to catch the leaders.
Ricardo Triviño, the controversial winner of the Pan Am last year by a whopping four seconds, is not expected to return to the event this year because he is participating in the World Rally Championship in Italy at the same time as the Pan Am.
American favorite Doug Mockett and his co-piloto Angélica Fuentes will return this year after a disappointing trip to the Targa Tazmania. Mockett and Fuentes even missed defending their vintage record at the Pikes Peak Hill International Climb, because it was postponed due to a forest fire near Colorado Springs in June. Instead, Mockett raced at Laguna Seca on August 12 and 19. This may be Mockett’s year.
Off hand, I know of no driver from the US or Canada who has raced professionally. A few, however, have raced at the higher levels of amateur racing, but most of us are only experienced in SCCA regional racing. In fact, some of our regulars have only raced in the Pan Am and Chihuahua Express.”
Personally, I think that it is good that experienced drivers are entering these events. It is not like anyone in these events is racing for money or to be selected as the Friday test driver for the Ferrari Formula 1 team. I think that most of the competitors in these events are racing for the fun of competing in the event and to do as best as they can. I think the professional drivers provide a benchmark for the other competitors.
Let me know what you think.