Bob Gett and Bob Paltrow race in the 2009 La Carrera Panamericana

We did this race last year and it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. It was not only a race against the clock, but also a test of our stamina, resilience, and occasionally, our friendship. Our goal last year was to finish, which we did, despite a disastrous final day. This year we took last year's lessons and improved our performance. Our KTR Racing crew of Andrew Funk and Ruben Olivas were with us again this year. They work very hard keeping us going, including changing the transmission, driveshaft and clutch on the side of the road.  We finished because of them. Follow along as we share our experience, as it happened. Enjoy!  Bob and Bob

Oct 21 / 6:38am | NOT A VERY GOOD BEGINNING

We are in a white Chrysler mini van driving from Oaxaca to Huatulco. Why? Because our flight out of Miami yesterday was late 2 hours and we missed our connection in Mexico City to Huatulco. We got a late flight to Oaxaco where we spent the night. We left this morning in the van for a supposed 5 hour drive to Huatulco. However, we have talked with some crews that drove this route yesterday and we heard anywhere from 7 to 14 hours to go 150 miles. We'll let you know when we make it. Bob Gett and Bob Paltrow race in the 2009 La Carrera Panamericana.

La Carrera Panamerica

Oct 21 / 11:17am | WE MADE IT TO HUATULCO

It took us 4 hours to go through 50 miles of mountain switchback roads, but we're here.  We're going to register now.

Oct 22 / 12:28pm  SCENES FROM THE STAGING AREA

Spent today getting ready. We did a test run, found a few minor problems. We are getting ready to do a qualification speed stage to determine the starting order for tomorrow. Weather is very hot and muggy, it will be unbearable in our racing gear. Here are some pictures from the staging area.  Some interesting cars and people.

Oct 23 / 12:03am  END OF DAY 0

Day 0 is the day before the race officially starts. You spend the day doing final preparation and do a qualification speed stage.  The  results are only used to determine the starting order for the first day. In subsequent days, the starting order is determined by the results of the previous day. Qualification is not that important, but it does give you an early idea of your pace. Tonight we had the drivers meeting at 8:00, but in typical Mexican fashion it didn’t get started till 9:00. The purpose is to get the results of qualification stage and get chewed out for being reckless. We were shocked when we were informed that 5 cars crashed today and we haven’t even started the race. The organizers were understandably upset (and so were the Federales).

The good news is we had the 35th best time (out of 103 cars). We were very pleased with this. The race starts tomorrow. We are really excited. I’ll try to do a posting or two, but we are pretty busy the whole day. Here are some pictures of the Drivers Meeting tonight.

Oct 23 / 4:16pm  DAY 1: GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS

We just finished the first day, arriving in Oaxaca a few minutes ago. We did 300 miles over 10 sections, Bob G driving the morning, Bob P the afternoon. We ran very well with only a few penalties. That's the good news.

La Carrera Panamerica

The bad news is our car limped across the finishing line with transmission and clutch problems. We drove the last 50 miles of transit in 3rd and 4th gear. We're drinking tequila in the main square waiting for our mechanics. We may be out of the race. We'll let you know.

Oct 24 / 4:33am  BAD NEWS UPDATE

It's 6:00am and we are waiting for Andrew to bring our car to today's start. He worked on it all night and replaced the clutch housing and thinks we can drive the car. He's concerned the transmission is damaged, but the car is drivable. Keep your fingers crossed. We stayed at the Camino Real Oaxaca last night, a 500 year old monastery. It is amazing. Here are pictures from the drivers meeting there last night. We learned that there were 7 crashes yesterday, including 4 rollovers. Not sure about injuries.

We are doing 10 stages today covering 370 miles. We end up in Mexico City, hopefully.

Oct 24 / 5:19am  WE'RE OFF

Car made it, leaving now.  We ranked 24th yesterday, 23rd overall. Awesome result.

Oct 24 / 7:29am  TRANSMISSION HOLDING UP

Bob G just ran two speed sections and we are now at an early service stop. Clutch worked fine thanks to our crew working all night to replace the clutch housing. It wasn't the right type for the car but Andrew made it work. He hopes to pick another up in Mexico City. Third gear is a problem, it won't stay engaged in less you hold it in. It's a little difficult making the turns with one hand on the wheel.

La Carrera Panamerica

The crew is not with us at the service stop since they stayed behind in Oaxaca to deal with transmission problems on our support truck. This is what they mean about surviving the Carrera.

Oct 24 / 12:26pm  FIESTA

We arrive around 2pm in Tehuacán to a fiesta for us. The square is filled with thousands of people. We ran six speed stages today and the car ran pretty well. Unfortunately we lost 1st and 2nd gear during the most recent transit. We now have to drive with it like that for 200 miles to Mexico City.

La Carrera Panamerica

Oct 24 / 3:26pm  MIRACLES DO HAPPEN

We are on the drive to Mexico City. The transmission was getting worse, just waiting for it to finally die. Out of no nowhere appears a mechanic I know Chris driving along in a truck with an empty trailer. We were along side him at the next toll both. He agreed to haul our car the rest of the way. However there was no room in the truck for us. So as I write this post, we are riding in our race car strapped to the trailer. Another lucky break. Question is, will we have a car for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Oct 25 / 5:12am  STILL ALIVE

The Bobs got to the hotel around 8pm last night after our fun ride on the back of a trailer, and it was raining. We had to hire a cab for us to follow to the hotel.  It is impossible to find anything in Mexico City. Andrew and Ruben didn’t get in till midnight and started working on our broken car.  They have been working all night replacing the transmission. That’s two all nighters in a row for them. It is now 6am here.  We are not sure the car will be ready for the 7:30 start today.  If not we will miss one or more sections, but will try to get caught up with the race at some point during the day. Today’s (Day 3) schedule calls for 15 sections covering 310 miles, from Mexico City to Querétaro.

Oct 25 / 9:47am  ON THE ROAD AGAIN

We missed the 7:30 start this morning. Andrew and Ruben worked all night replacing our transmission. Fortunately we were carrying a spare. We missed the first speed stage. But there is a long 120 mile transit to the next one. So we are now on hwy 57 trying to make it to the 2nd stage. We are hauling ass now trying to catch up. The really good news is we jumped up to 19th place overall. This is amazing considering we have one of the lowest horsepowered cars in the entire field of 103. We finish tonight in the city of Querétaro.

Oct 25 / 5:06pm  AWESOME DAY 3

We just arrived in Querétaro a few minutes ago to huge crowds in the central square. Considering that early this morning we were planning to fly home today, we are pretty happy now. We ran 7 clean speed sections and made it on time through the arrival arch. The car ran really well, amazing considering the transmission was out of the car at 6am this morning. Thanks Andrew and Ruben. We'll get the day's timing sheets later tonight.

Oct 26 / 7:01am  DAY 4 START

It's 7:30 am and we are at the starting arches for day 4. We have about 300 miles to San Luis Potosí. Car seems to be working well.

We got the results from yesterdays run and found out there were no times for us. Apparently there was some problem with the timing and scoring system last night. We don't know where we stand at the moment. Trying to get answers from the officials is very difficult. It's frustrating for us since we have been performing very well. It may get sorted out, but we're sceptical.

Oct 26 / 4:08pm DAY 4

We arrived in San Luis Potosí a few minutes ago to crowds in the city square. We had a great day, car ran well and we drove well. Andre and Ruben weren't so lucky. The new transmission in their truck blew as they were leaving Querétaro this morning. They were able to rent a truck to haul our gear, but they had to abandon the trailer. Not sure how we will get our car back to Boston when we finish.

La Carrera Panamerica

Also in the bad news department, all our times from yesterday were invalid because we arrived at the first checkpoint more than 10 mins late. We were 15 minutes late. All the work to replace the transmission over night and the 120 mile run to get to the first stage was wasted. So we moved back from 19 overall to 37th. Bummer.

Oct 27 / 6:51am  DAY 5 START

We are at the starting line for the San Luis Potosí to Guadalajara leg. We got yesterdays timing results and we were 29th for the day. It's a very good result. There were many easy turns yesterday where the high horsepower cars do well. We don't know where we stand overall.

Oct 27 / 4:30pm  END OF DAY 5

We had a great day, lots of driving, good performance, good car. We have arrived in the town of Tequila, west of Guadalajara. It's not just a clever name. This is were it all starts for you Tequila lovers. In fact we are now having the group dinner and drivers meeting in the gardens of the José Cuervo distillery.

La Carrera Panamerica

After taste testing their entire line we then have to drive to our hotel in Guadalajara 50 miles away. Finding our hotels is the most difficult aspect of this event. We usually hire a taxi to follow. Tonight's trip should be more interesting.

We find out tomorrow our times for today.

Oct 28 / 6:53am DAY 6 START

We are at the starting arch for today. They decided to have the arch in a busy intersection in Guadalajara, during rush hour. Chaos reigns, but that is typical in Mexico.

La Carrera Panamerica

We finished 29th yesterday, and are now 28th after 5 days. It will be difficult to hold that position since the rest of the speed stages are not very twisty, where we do well. Our little Alfa has 160 HP, and is one of the lowest in the field. The big V8s will reign now.

We are heading to Zacatecas.

Oct 28 / 1:40pm BIG SCREW UP

We made a huge mistake this morning. Getting out of these cities is always difficult. We saw a Carrera official with flashing lights and assumed he was leading a group of cars out of the city. Really stupid. We followed the guy for 30 km before we came to the conclusion he was lost. We reversed and went back to the city center and started all over. Now one hour behind schedule, we will have no times for today because we would miss the first checkpoint by more than 10 mins.

We caught up with the pack at stage 5 by taking the toll road. We are going to run the remaining stages anyway for fun.

La Carrera Panamerica

Like I said, it's just about being fast. Navigation is equally important. All our good work the last few days is lost. We have now lost times for a total of 9 stages. Oh well.

Oct 28 / 5:27pm  ZACATECAS ARRIVAL

Just landed in Zacatecas, my favorite city on the race. The architecture is beautiful. The church in the picture is amazing.

La Carrera Panamerica

The afternoon stages were fun. Bob P managed to not spin the car at La Bufa like he did last year. As I mentioned on the previous post, the times tonight won't count.

La Carrera Panamerica

The two Blues Brothers in the other picture are our crew Andrew and Ruben.

Oct 29 / 9:51am FINAL DAY

Didn't get a chance to post at the start. It was chaotic. We ran one speed stage and then did a long 160 mile transit to a service stop where we are at now.

Car is running fine, but we are going from 8000' elevation to about 2000'. We will have to re-jet the car at some point.

Five stages to go and about 350 miles. This the last day and the longest by a lot.

La Carrera Panamerica

We started the day in 35th place, moving back after losing all our times from yesterday. Today's sections are about top speed, not handling so we will probably lose more positions.

Oct 29 / 1:38pm  IT'S OVER FOR US

Moments ago we were running the next to last speed stage, suddenly the car lost power, temperature way to the right, and oil pressure dropping. I.e. We blew the motor. 100 miles from the finish of the entire 2200 mile race.

La Carrera Panamerica

Oct 29 / 2:54pm  ANOTHER INTERESTING RIDE

Andrew and Ruben found us 30 mins ago, however our trailer was a abandoned in Oaxaca 4 days ago. We were able to flag down another support crew with an empty trailer. Of course there was no room for Bob and I, so we are now sitting in the bed of a pickup riding down the highway to Nuevo Laredo.

Oct 30 / 12:35am  ENDING ON A POSITIVE NOTE

In our last post, we were riding in the back of a pickup that was hauling our car to Nuevo Laredo, the final stop.  Well we made it.  Not happy about how things ended, but that’s the way it goes.  Andy looked at the car and determined that we didn’t blow the motor, but just burned a valve.  That happens a lot here because of bad gas, or not using the proper jetting for the altitude.  We started at sea level, climbed to 10,000’ and ending at 500’.  We cleaned up and went to the final drivers meeting and awards ceremony.  We won 2nd place in our class.  Even though we had 3 difficult days, we did drive well and our times were close to the 1st place team.  We were really surprised however when we won the award for the most beautiful car in our class.  Not sure how we finished overall, but will find out later. We’ll be saying good bye to Mexico tomorrow.

La Carrera Panamerica

Oct 30 / 5:02pm  BACK HOME - FINAL RESULTS

Before LCP this year, we thought we could finish in the mid 30s.  Well, in spite of 3 blown days out of 7, we managed to finish 34th for the entire race.  Not bad for only our 2nd year and a pretty stock, low power car.  Even though we hit our goal, we are somewhat disappointed in that we discovered in the early part of the week that we had the pace to finish in the 20s.  The lesson is that it takes not only good driving, but also a reliable car and perfect navigation.

La Carrera Panamerica

Here are our daily finishing positions:

Day 1 – 24th  •  Day 2 – 30th  •  Day 3 – 70th  •  Day 4 – 29th
Day 5 – 34th  •  Day 6 – 63rd  •  Day 7 – 54th

We enjoyed sharing our great adventure with our friends and family. Thanks to all of you that visited us on our blog and especially those that posted comments.

See you next year.