La Carrera

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On July 29, 1937, in the latter years of the Great Depression, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Canada, and the United States signed the Convention on the Pan-American Highway, whereby they agreed to achieve speedy construction, by all adequate means, of a highway running from the southern reaches of South America to Alaska.

In the heady early post-war days Mexico became the first Latin American country to complete its portion of the highway, and in 1950 a great race was announced to celebrate the opening of the new road:  La Carrera Panamericana.  In its original form the race only ran for five years, but during those years it became a major prestige event on the same level as the Mille Miglia or Targa Florio, with all the great names and teams of the era competing.

The building of the road had been a no-expense-spared operation resulting in a beautiful highway running from the jungles of Chiapas on the Guatemalan border, up into the highlands above Mexico City and down into the northern desert flatlands.   With excellent camber on a series of constant radius bends, despite the best part of  three-quarters of a century of wear and tear, the road is still a sheer delight to race on.  There are no jerky switchbacks here, just flowing curves.  In 1988 the race was revived as a special stage rally using much of the same route.  Since then, it has started and ended at various points, and used some other roads, but always with the old Panamerican Highway at its heart.

The organisers have received the necessary authorisations to hold the 2020 Carrera Panamericana on its originally scheduled dates of 16-22 October, thouhg at time of writing, the border remains closed between the US and Mexico.  To help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 1950 event, and the 33rd of the modern race, organisers are offering a 70 Years Sport and Classic Tour that will run from Oaxaca in the south, to Zacatecas in the north, running concurrently with the main rally for four of the days, from 16 to 19 October, and enjoying the two favourite stopping places of La Carrera, Oaxaca (where the main race will start this year) and Zacatecas, as well as a visit to Mexico City and Morelia along the way.  However, if the border situation remains unchanged, the event will no doubt be cancelled for this year.  See for updates.


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