Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

The Carrera Panamericana, a 2,000 mile road rally from Oaxaca to Nuevo Laredo, is coming though Querétaro tomorrow. I'm not sure how you're supposed to tell the race cars from the regular lunatic Mexican drivers, but most Mexican cars aren't covered with decals for STP and Valvoline, so that's a good indication.

You can check out the navigation books they give to the drivers here (click any one of the "libretas"). If you count the number of times the word tope - "speedbump" - shows up, it'll give you an idea how insanely frustrating it can be to drive in Mexico. I'm planning to print the whole thing out and keep it in my car, since I never see the damn things until we're actually airborne.

There's also a couple of decent race blogs here and here.

I mentioned all this to my auto-racing pal Steve, just for the sake of conversation. His response was a little garbled, but I'm pretty sure he just signed us up for 2008, and spent most of the night tracking down a vintage engine for his Camaro. Also, thirty years of friendship notwithstanding, it's clear that refusing to join him will mean that for the rest of my life, references to my masculinity will be accompanied by an asterisk. Of course, I've always wanted to learn how to drive a stick shift, and seven days in a race car would give me plenty of time to practice.

Not a lot of people know this, but I have motorsports-journalism experience, having spent a chunk of 1991 writing scripts for Winners, a series of champion auto-racer profiles on the Nashville Network. That gig dried up when the show's host, Neil Bonnett, decided - against doctor's orders - to come out of his head-injury-induced retirement and return to the track. You can see the result here. Apparently, even a brief fainting spell is problematic when you're pushing 200 mph. (It's also amazing how may results you get when you search for "fatal crash" on YouTube. It's like snuff film central.)

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