Friday, 8 November 2013

Day 8 race hangover and thank yous

and so its back home to the real world.....   


Thank you at all our old friends, ancient friends and those new ones too. You make this week such fun both on the road and  in the bar. Your kindness mechanically in lending spare parts, beers, spare engines has no bounds. Bo and Gerth from Sweden - whom Sam and I may just have to visit to watch them in the Midnight Sun Rally...

Thanks also to the unsung hereos - the doctors, fire crews and timers who find themselves chasing us lunatics all over mexico

Thanks to Mats and Eva, mechanics Sam and Gabriel and a special thanks to our families for letting us go.

PS despite the hardship of exhausting hours and everyday getting into a wet racesuit - there are always a few bonus sights to be had - and we're not talking volcanoes. 
.... as noted by the ever-watchful eye of my navigator at high speed " Big bumps - two o'clock!"

So to satisfy those who might doubt Sams judgemental skills , a few pics....

Adrian Stevens and Sam Burg 1st in class

Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico

and finally 

day 7 last day and La Bufa

After one too many beer (s) at the reception Sam struggles to get a key to our room as he's not the Mr Snitzer? on receptions computer.  After much slurring and expletives  they finally give in and hand over a duplicate card to get into our room.

We wake at 5.10am the phone goes off - its a call for Mr Snitzer.
Again at 5.11 am it goes off - again for Mr Snitzer !!!!!!

No more sleep,  we are wide awake and for the next hour lie in bed listening to the noises of cars being started up and tested.

Sam does his early morning homework and marks up his notes and alterations to the day

I love the WARNING handout on P287where the RH1 turns into a blind RH4 

There is an air of excietment as this is the final day. Lots of good luck tidings.

I spot a new face on the next team - but it turns out its his "last day good luck wig" that he wears every year throughout the last day.



 We go out behind the yellow and red 356 of Robert Curry thats been patched up. Whenever I see him he's wearing a "Jiffy lube" t-shirt. Thats a brand that i sometimes see in chemist shops?

Exactly how many jiffy condoms do you have to use to get a tshirt, yet alone full car sponsorship??

All stages run well. we even manage to film from the cockpit and from the front of the car with a mini go-pro video camera!!

We run four dry speed stages - that all went well

Then run two service stops . First for a oil and water / brakes service to check things over before the infamous downhill La Bufa -

with everyone wary of its blind peaks - none moreso than Gerie who got it so spectacularly wrong in 2005:

To see video click on:   La Bufa Downhill FAIL 

after the downhill on la bufa a final service for the cleaning and polishing of the car before the last speed stage back up laBufa and the run into Zacatecas for the end.

It starts to rain YET again.......

We make the finish arch and get instructed to pull into tech for a final car inspection /weighing and to measure the actual engine size etc. We see one of our close rivals - the blue XK150 on a trailer - which can only help our standings.

The party starts......   For two hours we all party like crazy. Bottles of tequila are passed around, beers flow with back slapping and  hugs all round.

Its the final chance to let off steam and to congratulate fellow cars.

Lauren manages to sign her name on some poor passing mexicans arse.

The Mats Hammarlund mechanics hunt us down and douse us in beer. 12 x 2 bottles each  - thats a lot of beer spray!!

At the awards our friends Carson and Lauren  get 1st for day and 1st overall in Original Panam class.
Lauren also wins the attention of "Growler" a particularly deep voiced "hands-on" mexican!!

The Hammarlund  mustang with Stephan and Peter  gets  overall 2nd in Historic C  and 10th overall.

Memo and his studebaker come in 2nd for day and get 3rd in overall.

Taz and Rudy come in 7th overall in their super-fast Datsun.

Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico
Asdrian Stevens and Sam Burg with final day awards Mexico
We finally also get a 1st in class for the day and a rather surprising 1st in the overall classification for our class Sport Major.

we say goodbyes to Mats Eva and the nechanics

Get to bed at 2am with alarm call 4am to fly back home....

Friday, 1 November 2013

day 6 no probs

We gather at the commercial centre and find poor old Kamings car on a trailer from its off yesterday afternoon.

He did well by aiming for a field with mud to slow the impact - we all laugh as he didnt scratch the front wings or the headlights.

We meet up again with Andrew and Linda - the scale-model makers from who were measuring and photographing the LT yesterday as they want to make a model of it.

Chips cars on a trailer with its blown engine. They have finally conceded defeat and gone back home.
He only managed two speed stages all week. Next year he's vowed to be back !!

Whilst Sam and I stuff ourselves at the service stop poor old Memo gets cameras thrust at him and has to do interviews every lunchtime.

He's in with the Mats Hammarlund team with us and four others - we try to keep him a sandwich - but it does nt look as if he hates it too much.

 The rain and drizzle persist and we drive carefully through it all. On the second to last speed stage there is oil on the road and 6 cars crash out. No injuries.

All but two get repaired overnight to start again.

We are second in class and have slipped up a few more places.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

day 5 morelia to guanajuato

Sam and Gabriel work through the rain to rewire the burnt out MSD  unit and fit an emergency exit sign on Sams door.

They are the real stars in our race.

The 12 Mats Hammarlund mechanics typically work 8pm till 1 am at service . Sleep about 4 to a room (or more) then they are back at the cars warming them up and polishing /rain-ex-ing  our screens and helmets at 7am prior to us jumping in at 8am.

They then have to zoom ahead to service where they set up their mobile workshop and lunch table and await the six cars that Mats is looking after .
After a quick one -hour service for brakes and fluids they then see us off into afternoon stages and get ahead on a motorway to the finish so they are ready to start again....theyre getting half our sleep and  I think i'm tired !!!

As a treat I gave our two boys our finishing medals today and made Sam the mechanic ride into the finish arch perched on the back holding our helmets through  all the cameras and razzmatazz

Sadly little news on Chip. His clutch is blown but
knowing him, he will be scouring the towns ahead to get back in the race as every day is a separate race  day within the race.

we complete all morning and afternoon speed stages passing our friend Kaming in the Dodge. He had mistimed the RH 3 and rather than hit the armco had opted for a mud run off into a tree. No injuries at all.

 and then head into Guanajunto to party.

Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico
Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico

Sam meets up with a bunch of properly crazy mexican friends. Arturo and Co. They don't speak a word of english, Sam speaks about 14 words total in spanish but they do have a mutual language of beer and partying.

As the cars are firmly stuck parked up in the narrow streets we have to stay for  a few beers.

In our room - with Sam lying  in his underwear whilst on his computer -  I was commenting to him that it was amazing how he could communicate only with the booze when our door opens and in comes Arturo to carry on partying. He had just gone and asked at the front desk for the Stevens/ Burg room key !!

  We finish 3rd again and have again gone up a few more places overall.

off to aquascalientes

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


The lovely Lauren with cigar chomping Carson in 433.

Our car looking good today, If it could talk i'm sure its wondering why its carrying 300 lbs in dead weight.

Chips back in action. After completing only one speed stage so far .....

We head to the hills for the mornings fast speed stages, 98% 0 and 1 turns.

Car going fantastically fast but on run 2 see poor old chip again at side of road ( still smiling) with a blown clutch. I think we will dig out the local priest when we finish today to bless it in holy water.

Also red falcon? 2 ahead of us, into the armco on a LH3. We pass the copilot running up to the start of the curve waving his red flag but the funny thing was that 200 yards on, where the wreck is - the driver is leaning on it smoking a cigarette!!!! He must have got out and literally lit up immediately

into service and then back out again for the monster "mil cumbres"

On the approach to the second afternoon stage the heavens open. Theres thunder and lightening and the clouds descend to road level.

One minute to control we have a technical hitch....

The car rapidly fills with acrid choking black smoke and Sam screams that his shoes are on fire.
My first thoughts were that his fire-proof shoes couldn't be on fire. His pants - maybe ( as he doesnt wear the nomex) but not his shoes!!

Smoke belches from the car , but luckily with no front,rear or side windows it dissipats quickly.

Anyway - and to put this into perspective - Sam takes a long time to squeeze into his seat with his giant hans device. With 5 seat belts, 2 wrist belts and 2 neck brace belts, a mechanic or I have to help each time.

Well he was out of there like the proverbial scolded cat!!!
 I have never seen him move so fast.  Head first into the undergrowth - leaving me still fully race buckled - i am within an inch of pulling the fire system , but reconsider- - I shut down the electrics, exit and find the MSD igniton box, on the firewall inside the cockpit by sams feet, has caught fire and burnt out.

We switch to the second MSD unit and roll into the section.

Halfway into the speed section the rain becomes impossible. We cant see more than 20 meters, our tyres are cold and theres rain rivers with water flowing off the corners . and as if that wasnt enough the intercom gets wet and fails.

Sam cant even turn the pages without them disintegrating to pulp so we unplug and roll down at 25 mph.

 The final stage is cancelled and we run for town and beers.

The rains continue and we leave the mechanics working on the car under a tent, in the main square, way past midnight.

But we do get 2nd again and creep up a few more places.

Chip is fitting a new clutch but we manage to beg for a finishers medal for him at the arch.

Onto the silver mines tomorrow.

Monday, 28 October 2013

day 3 mexico city to quaretaro

John Chip Fudge and his son Taylor
My best friend Chip arrives into Mexico city at 2.30 am having replaced his blown engine. and is again all smiles at the start point.

For press pr we line up in Mexico City for a lemans start,  its an untimed transit, but car misbehves and is jump started and then crosses the start line with its hood/bonnet off . but it all counts and as a convoy we exit out of Mexico city with police cars , blue lights and every set of traffic lights being held for us. The whole circus moves out at speeds of 70-90 mph in a city where the smallest car journey is nigh on impossible.

We head for the hills above quaretaro, 3 up hill sections, service, then the same three in reverse as downhill sections.

Before we get to the first stage we pass Chip and Taylors Mustang. We slow to offer our negligible /minimal mechanical advice - he tells us  the treads gone inside his distributor
but typical of him he still has the hugest grin - everything can be repaired !!!

Run the speed stages well, the car is again oil/brake serviced and then back out.

The blue e-type engined XK150 ( thats above us in class ) comes in off-transit on a trailer - mega time penalties !!

Running all day with Sam with his deep growly Califorian voice in your ears is rather like driving the race alongside an older version of  "Crush"  - the turtle from Finding Nemo - "Dude!!"

I am learning a whole new language. in particular a lot of use of the US  informal verb "book"



[with object]
  • 1reserve (accommodation, a place, etc.); buy (a ticket) in advance:I have booked a table at the Swan[no object]:book early to avoid disappointment
  • reserve accommodation for (someone):his secretary had booked him into the Howard Hotel[with two objects]:book me a single room at my usual hotel
  • [no object] (book in/into) register one’s arrival at a hotel:he booked in at a hotel
  • engage (a performer or guest) for an event:the promoter booked him for another appearance
  • (be booked up) have all places reserved; be full:at weekends we’re usually booked up
  • 2make an official note of the personal details of (a person who has broken a law or rule):the cop booked me and took me down to the station
  • Soccer (of a referee) note down the name of (a player) who is cautioned for foul play:McMahon was booked for a foul
  • 3 [no object] US informal leave suddenly:they just ate your pizza and drank your soda and booked
  • move quickly:my sister and I booked to the playground

EXAMPLES :  "Get this thing on !! - it can book!"   or  "They're booking"

I think I might have to write to the Oxford dictionary with some better examples....

Now there is an unwritten rule of - what goes on in car stays in car, including my full one and ahalf spin 540' in speed section on day 2 - that wasn't seen by anyone or photographed by anyone.
BUT strangely everyone seems to now knows about it.

................Could there be a mole in the car Sam?

so ...Sam....   simple rules for navigator.

1.What goes on in car - stays in car.

2. Only give mathematical terminology to the turns and pertinent surrounding details,
ie LH3 or "loose gravel/ wet road / no rails and cliff etc"
...............not "just max this baby" and "whoaa look at the buns on that one"... "Checkout her mother !"

3. You can only touch the terratrip computer and/or the electric cut out switch.

so back to the afternoon downhill sections . ie faster than the same in uphill!!..
first section 12 kms we cover the first five curves before sam gets lost ....we go visual,  then he picks it up RH2, LH3, RH2, then as we approach a LH 2 / 3  - he informs me its a RH1 - and to "step on it!!"

We have a polite but brief discussion over the fast approaching 30 meters , and then I am informed that "we are lost again".

Back on visual I scream at him that "km 82" marker has just gone by in a blur.....

More navigator panic . followed by about 3 minutes of  page turning. and then a final declaration that he "gives up"

As we pass the finish flag it turns out he was reading the curves for section 6 on section 4 !!

In the next section (5) we start well and  half way in I detect a calm voice calling the turns. Has Sam finally cracked it?  Is he now about to become a fully paid 5 - star navigator?

RH2,  LH1,  RH1,  - he does really well for the next 2 or 3 kms ....he continues RH2,  LH2....   which seems to be a long....

I ask if its a LH2 LONG and Sam tells me - yES its Long.

The Next is RH3 - so I ask whats coming up....  he confesses " i cant see it yet?"
Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico
Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico
Hes gone visual !!!!!  Hes just making a call as and when he can see it..!!!

Honestly I nearly crashed the car from laughing

Just to finish a great days racing we approach the finish arch (untimed section) and the engine cuts out. I try to fire up but Sam seems to have knocked out the emergency cut out key on his side of the dash.
His punishment is to push us over the line infront of national TV.

....the good news is that weve got 2nd in class ans start 59th.
and even better news Chips back again - and chomping at the bit for todays sections

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Day 2 Into Mexico City

Next to us Memos car is rebuilt overnight and ours is readied and warmed up when we collect it at 7.00am. But  have yet more troubles with our battery at the start and take the decision to wait back till 8 when we can find a match for the alternator even if it means skipping the two short early morning speed stages.

Chips three mechanics have worked through the night and still not finished as they need some different pulleys and waterpump. So he'll miss today and hopefully catch us up on day 3.

We are keeping to Adrian driving and Sam navigating . He has done the race 8-9 times before and knows all the sections today. We still make the timing arch at the start and again at the service timing. Though as we had skipped the sections we were first into the Fiesta and welcomed as the section winner !!
Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico
Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico

The final section into Mexico City is a very long transit with three rain storms and a hill ascent to 3,000m up over the volcanoes into the city. We get police escort through all red traffic lights and again motorbike escort through the suburbs right into the centre Zocolo we finally make the finish arch where there are thousands of people waiting to greet the cars. Hand out all our cards to little kids .

Even the dogs love our car !!!

After over 14 hours in our filthy and wet race suits we find the luggage lorry hasnt made it through the traffic as easily so have to wait till its 10pm arrival.... urgh....

Our friends Lauren and Carson again make 1st in their class today and we miraculously make 3rd.

We leave the car in the Hiltons basement having its fourth full service in 48 hours.
Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico
Adrian Stevens LT Special Mexico