2016 La Carrera Panamericana dates set: OCTOBER 13-20, 2016

‘53 Studebaker Champion, the Juan Carlos Sarmiento’s 2X Pan-Am Championship car, ready to win again. Turismo Mayor. $115,000/BO.  Contact Philippe [email protected]


January 2016 – Happy New Year – 14 Years of Publication



**DATES FOR PAN-AM SET, OCT. 13-20, 2016








The first East Coast “Carreras Fiesta” will be held in Miami, Florida on February 20.   Escape that winter cold for a few days in the sun and join the fun.  Invitation attached.


The fiesta will be held at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, 1395 NW 57th Ave., near the Miami International Airport.  It will comprise two parts:  a private lunch with Gerie Bledsoe, North American Coordinator of the Carrera Panamericana and Chihuahua Express, at the restaurant at 2:00 PM, and a Carrera sponsors’ party for our host Pedro Vidal, a Pan-Am regular, at the same place at 7:00 PM.  An invitation is included at the end of this newsletter.

Please RSVP for both events and bring your dancing, not driving, shoes.



The Chihuahua Express has already signed up 35 entries, breaking a record for this time of the year.  Of these competitors, 23 are from the U.S. and Canada.  At least three or four more are expected from those two countries, as well as six or seven additional entries from Mexico and other countries.  Registration will be open until the event begins on April 21.

Of the 23 from the U.S, and Canada, 7 are new to the Express.  This illustrates the growing appeal of this unique motor sports event.

The Express is unique because it matches modern cars against “vintage” Pan-Am cars that compete for the overall championship.  Last year, the top two places overall were won by Pan-Am cars from the “Turismo Mayor” class.  This class is limited to 366 cubic-inch, naturally-aspirated engines, but all moving parts in the engine are “free” or unrestricted.  Only the car’s body must be made before 1955, the rest is more modern racing technology.

Popular classes for the Express include:  Pan-Am Historic “B” and “C” cars.  “B” cars include Porsche 911s with up to 2.4 liter engines, Jaguar XKEs, and Datsun “Z” cars this year.  “C” cars include Ford Mustangs, Ford Falcons, primarily; a Dodge Dart, and maybe a Chevy II Nova.

A group of “Original Pan Am” cars is also expected, which will include the ’54 Ford of Carson Scheller that has won this class in the Pan-Am several time.  A classic Pan-Am “hot rod” Lincoln and Nash will form the rest of the class.   In addition, there may be enough Turismo Production Pan-Am cars to form a class.  These cars are similar to the Turismo Mayor cars, but are limited to 305 cubic inch engines, iron heads, and four-speed transmissions.

The Express Tour, a time-to-distance “regularity” rally, is also gaining in interest.  It is an excellent introduction to rallying in Mexico, especially for those considering an entry to the Express or La Carrera Panamericana in the future.   Any car may enter the Tour, including hot rods, rat rods, SUVs, pickups, and airport rentals.


According to the official web site, the dates have been set for the 2016 Pan-Am, Oct. 13-20.  Applications are normally received in mid-February.  At that time the amount of the early entry fee and route will available.  It is expected that the route will include overnights in:  Veracruz (start), Oaxaca, Mexico City, Toluca, Morelia, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and Durango (finish). 

Over the past three years, the number of entries has fallen to much less than the limit of 100 cars.  If you are thinking about entering, the chances are great that your car will be accepted.


The Pan-Am is a seven-day-long stage rally, through the mountains of Mexico on paved roads.  As such it is a long, difficult endurance race for men, women, and their cars.  This is not an event that places a premium on the originality of the cars, however, but on their safety and dependability.  The event organizers are also concerned with fair competition through compliance with the rules when preparing a cars for the event.

In only one class are the cars expected to look exactly like the cars in the original event in 1950-1954, and even these cars are allowed modern safety and dependability modifications.  In all the others classes, the rules allow many modifications that would not be allowed in vintage racing.  Some of these modifications allow the cars to go faster (the moving parts of engines, for example, are “free”), some mods are for safety, such as roll cages that extend through the fire walls, something not acceptable to most vintage racing associations.

The main classes of Pan-Am cars are:

  1. Original Pan Am -- 1940-1955 sedans and sports cars with period engines, suspensions, steering, and period appearance; one class for all cars.
  2. Pan-American -- 1940-1955 sedans and sports cars, now includes period hot rods with 305 c.i. engines; these cars are divided into four sub-classes.
  3. Historic -- 1956-1965 or 1972 sedans and sports cars with period engines, original steering, suspension, plus speed equipment from the era; divided into five classes depending on engine and age.  Four-cylinder cars may be 1966-1972 models or newer in some cases.
  4. Historic Rally Cars, 1955-1975 (FIA certified with full roll cage); one class.
  5. Exhibition (cars not eligible for a regular Pan-Am class, not included in final results)

For all cars must have naturally aspirated engines, and there are limits on displacement, heads, carburetion, rim width, tires, transmissions, suspension, etc.  All classes allow disc brakes, modern electronic ignitions, alloy radiators, and headers, plus other modifications designed to make the cars more dependable and safe.  All classes require a FIA-type roll cage and other safety equipment.  Please read the rules before preparing a car.  If you have any doubts, contact [email protected].


Thinking about signing up for the Chihuahua Express in April or the Pan-Am in October?   Consider buying an existing, sorted-out car, instead of building from scratch.  It is much more economical.  Here are some examples:

1940 Cadillac LaSalle Turismo Production

This Rare LaSalle Type 40, two-door business coupe was the coolest ride in the 2015 Carrera Panamericana.  Third-place finish in class.  No serious mechanical problems.  Sorted and ready to race in 2016 – Chihuahua Express and Pan-Am.  Easily converted into a Turismo Mayor car.

All steel body.  Hood and fenders can be easily removed for service.  Front suspension -- modified Mustang with coil-over's and tubular upper- and lower-control arms.  Rear suspension -- adjustable coil spring with a tubular, triangulated four-link.  Big Wilwood disc brakes. Ford 9 inch full floater with 3.50 gear and posi-traction. Tremec five speed--because of the Carrera rules 5th gear (over-drive) is locked out.  The engine is a GM 302 c.i. with cast iron heads and a Holly 600 CFM double pumper carburetor.  Dynoed at 360 HP. Ignition -- a dual MSD boxes with rev. limiter, dual coils. Bridgestone racing tires with spare.  Aluminum racing seats and five-point belts.  Massive, safe roll cage. Fuel cell.  Passed Pan-Am tech with flying colors.

Spare parts include: rotors, front and rear. Upper and lower a-arms with ball joint. Rear upper and lower control arms. Spare calipers, pads, shocks, bearings, front and rear. Stiffer rear springs.  This is the fifth Pan-Am car Frank Oliveto has built, and like the rest, it’s solid. Ready to run the Chihuahua Express.

Price: $69,000.00/B.O.   A spare 306 c.i., solid-lifter motor, 12 to 1 comp. 450 H.P. is available at extra cost.  Call:  Frank Oliveto, Richmond, California 415-720-1482 or email [email protected].

Also available are:

’53 Studebaker Commander, the “Silver Fox,” Turismo Production, new high-dollar 302 Chevy race engine. $86,000/BO.  Race ready. Convert to Turismo Mayor. Contact [email protected]


‘53 Studebaker Champion, the Juan Carlos Sarmiento’s 2X Pan-Am Championship car, ready to win again. Turismo Mayor. $115,000/BO.  Contact Philippe [email protected]

Other Pan-Am cars will be featured in the next edition of CARRERAS NEWS.


Auto racing is extremely dangerous in any form, and a stage-rally (road racing) in Mexico is no exception.  All competitors should have adequate experience or training before signing up for one of these events and drive prudently.  Carrera News is not an official publication of any race organization.  The views expressed here are the editor’s only.


Gerie Bledsoe, North American Coordinator

La Carrera Panamericana and Chihuahua Express

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 850-66zero-178four

New North American web site:  www.panamrace.com


Pan-Am Main Office

Mexico City +52-55-5586-6898

US Number 1-310-860-6959


[email protected] (entries, general info)

[email protected]  (hotels and entry fees)


Chihuahua Express


Chacho Medina, President

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