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

Saturday, 26 October 2013

DAY 1 Rain, rain go away

We wake to overcast weather and go to start the car and find it wont start!! The batteries so flat it wont take charge - luckily the mechanics all jump onto it and we whizz down to the start line and make our start time by 20 seconds to spare.

Adrain drives and Sam navigates. The stages in the mountains all go well and we are mostly amongst Porsche 911s and Mustangs. Sam knows the car really well and guides on the braking points and we seem to be getting quicker.

On one stage we even manage to spin the car a full 540' and carry on without being caught by the next car.

The higher we get the wetter it becomes. One speed stage is cancelled because of a mist cloud that makes visibilty impossible.

In the next section we pass Chips blue mustang - with a blown engine, and then pass our team mate Nemos Studebaker slid off the road into a field.

We get into Oaxaca where we find we have won 3rd in class and will start about 60th.

Chip meanwhile has been towed in and has been lent a spare mustang motor which he hopes to fit overnight.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Day 0 Qualifying run

Had an excellent evening out with Chip and Taylor, and Lauren and Carson. The wind was so strong that it is almost impossible to walk in the streets.

We have been warned that todays qualification speed stage will be cancelled if its too wet - the organiser doesn't need novice cars racing in the mountain on slippery roads.

But on opening the curtains - its still blowy,  overcast and dry!!.

Sam forgets to pick up our timing card so we write our own - and dash out into the hills for the speed section.  Today doesn't count in the overall classification but sets the start times for tomorrow based on speed.

Adrian drives the stage with Sam hollering in his ears. There was an aweful lot of encouragement "get on it " and "whooping" and rather less of what the curves were and  where. But in the end we record a   respecable time that puts us mid-table starting 45th fastest.

Our new best friend Memo missed pole by 0.4 sec despite taking onboard Sams best advice at breakfast. Our crew had made him a very healthy melon-strawberry-banana smoothy - but Sam and I  opted for the rather more unhealthy fried chicken and fries brunch.

The car has a few final modifications this afternoon, including wiring up the phones so we can use them as trip speedos and a final service to brakes and engine. Sam was made to run up and down the corridors with his phone app recording his speed and average speed. He sadly didnt get past 4 mph.

We all have to head out to the port in the evening for TV filming  a giant party and fireworks "fake start" and then back to the meeting this evening at 10pm.

Up tomorrow for Day 1 at 6am for the 7 am start. Adrian driving again.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

DAY -1 Red and Yellow

Last day before qualification time trial. Sam and I go over to see how our car looks - we've commissioned the local sign writer to add a go-fast stripe down the centre of the car.
Sam passes his medical and we get our helmets , hans devices and fireproofs all certified.
They want to know why my fireproof gloves look like they've been used in a fire and have been handling sausages??!!

....any ideas Basil?

The car certainly now has a stripe!! and after final tweeks to the seat belts and window nets we take it out on the road for a spin.

Adrian drives. Its running really well and our headphones enable us to chat at high speed.
The weather is still really windy and the sea is crashing over the dual carriageway road that runs along the coast. After a couple of miles we are both soaked to the skin - we 'll need to fit the full face visors if the weather persists. 

Theres a hurricane over on the Acapulco side and it seems to be effecting the weather here.

We attend the drivers meeting and get our start time for tomorrows 6 mile qualification stage.

The lists show 86 cars, of which 21 are Porsches , 14 are the extremely fast Studebakers and 13 are Mustang 350s.  
Early night ready for tomorrows start at 8.12

DAY -2 Humidity hitch

After 17 hours on three planes. Flew in late last night and was knocked sideways by the heat and humidity of Veracruz. Found our hotel. Our room was so cold - thanks to the AC - that I had to turn it off and get warmer by opening the balcony door.

Great views overlooking the pool and sea. Within minutes I am off in the land of nod , fast fast asleep.

I awake at 9am and reach across to my phone for the time, to feel a wet pool of water on the side table. I get up and literally wade across the room. Its as if a fire hydrant has gone off !!.
All the floor is soaking, the walls running with water , the ceiling dripping and my clothes drenched. I dare not touch the wet light switches....

Welcome to humidity. It has been raining all night and  I learn the lesson to keep windows closed and to run the AC.

I visit the indoor Veracruz World Trade Centre to meet up with the car, the Hammarlund mechanics and to go through tech. I collect the cars carnet, t-shirt / jacket freebies,  and go through my medical. The car goes through its own medical / technical inspection too.
Sams in tomorrow so we only have our nomex clothing and helmets to pass inspection.

The car has to go through the sponsors sticker area and comes out covered in adverts. As we have no windscreen our sun visor one HAS to go onto our fabric sun-roof. I guess it'll last about 4 seconds at 100+mph!!!

We are allocated a numbered parking lot for the mechanics to work at and happen to be alongside the car of race favorite Memo Rojas with his circus of TV media. The indoor arena is filling up with some incredible cars.

I meet up with Scott/Travis and Chips Mustang. They got in a few days earlier and have been seeing a lot of the local sites, catching up on culture and churches of interest.
No beers, tattoo parlours or 100ft boat deep-sea fishing trips for them!!!!

Sam flys in tonight at 10.30pm.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

DAY -3 Depart UK

CAR 216

Off to Mexico tomorrow morning.
....leaving Heathrow at 9.00 am getting into Veracruz at 8.00 pm