Rally Racing in Mexico
driving La Carrera Panamericana for the first time.
Some ideas are so outrageous you can’t help but be seduced by them. In October 2016 my brother Chris presented me with just such an idea, to race Mexico’s great road rally La Carrera Panamericana.
It was the year my brother turned fifty and the year he turned back to his petrol-head roots. After spending his teenage years with his hands buried in the engine of his ’69 Chevy Chevelle, he’d spent the next thirty years living where cars where either inconvenient, in New York City, or non-existent, in Venice, Italy.
Rally driving is popular in Europe, particularly around northern Italy. As old romantic notions of fast and beautiful cars became irresistible, Chris decided he would commemorate his fiftieth birthday with the purchase of a sports car. A capable and quick 1965 MG-B that was a proven competitor in the regulation rallies of New England.
Many of life’s turn happen because of who you know. That innocent MG-B introduced Chris to enthusiasts and provocateurs in the vintage rally world, car-building shamans who lead willing souls into lives lived by the ethos of Steve McQueen, “Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.”
Historic Rally Racing
As car-side talk of rallies done, and to be done, gripped my brother’s imagination one race in particular was always suggested for his bucket-list, La Carrera Panamericana. That historic Mexican race that once drew the best drivers in the world to its winding and dangerous curves, which had been revived as a vintage test of man and machine, a hero’s journey from an almost-forgotten time through the central states of Mexico.
Chris’s irresistible invitation came in an email in late October, by Thanksgiving we had decided together we would drive La Carrera and we set our plan in motion. I remember thinking to myself, “what in the world have I agreed to?” But infinitely greater than my doubts and fears was my excitement at the outrageousness of our decision that we, two novice racers with little rally experience, would drive one of the longest, fastest, most dangerous, and most difficult rallies in the world.
It’s now February 2018. There are 236 days until La Carrera 2018 begins. While we are now much more prepared for the challenge, the outrageous excitement of the idea still grips our imagination and pulls us to Mexico. For now we are waiting, but soon our lives will be racing.
Chris Mason: Co-Driver
Chris grew up Morristown, NJ where he developed a passion for creating and restoring, especially with wood. After attending Columbia University in New York City he traveled the world. He spent many years leading cycling and hiking tours throughout Europe and places farther afield. Chris eventually settled in Venice, Italy where he currently resides and continues to work as a craftsman.
Jeff Mason: Co-Driver
Jeff grew up in New Jersey spending most of his time on two wheels. He spent a decade racing road bikes and running a custom bike shop. Entrepreneurship led Jeff to Denver, Colorado where founded a design studio and continues as a marketing consultant. Always competitive, Jeff now coaches youth soccer for the Colorado Rapids.