1950 Carrera Panamericana

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The 1950 Carrera Panamericana was the first edition of the Carrera Panamericana.


After the Mexican section of the Panamerican Highway was completed in 1950, a nine-stage, five-day race across the country was organized by the Mexican government to advertise this feat and to attract international business into Mexico. The race ran almost entirely along the new highway, which crossed the country from north to south for a total distance of over 3,300 kilometres (2,100 mi). Antonio Cornejo, a Pontiac dealer in Mexico City, was the general manager of the event.


Racers from the US, Italy, France, Spain, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, and obviously, Mexico. The Formula 1 drivers Piero Taruffi and Felice Bonetto took part in the race. Also Bill France, the founder of NASCAR. Other NASCAR drivers participated as Hershel McGriff, Curtis Turner. The sporcar racer Jean Trévoux took part too.

The route[edit]

The first race ran from north to south, beginning in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the international border from El Paso, Texas, and finishing in El Ocotal, Chiapas, (now known as Cd. Cuauhtémoc) on the Guatemala-Mexico border opposite from La Mesilla, Guatemala. At least one stage was run each day for five consecutive days. The elevation changes were significant: from 328 feet (100 m) to 10,482 feet (3,195 m) above sea level, requiring amongst other modifications re-jetting of carburettors to cope with thinner air. Most the race was run between 5,000 feet (1,500 m) and 8,000 feet (2,400 m).


The first three places were won by American cars and American drivers. The winner, Hershel McGriff, drove an Oldsmobile 88 at an average speed of 142 km/h (88 mph). Though less powerful, the car was substantially lighter than its big Lincoln and Cadillac competitors, meaning that it would eventually pull away from them on the steep, winding course. The car (which had cost McGriff only $1,900, when the winner's purse was $17,000[1]), had another advantage in its weight – it was much easier to stop, meaning that McGriff finished the race on his original brake shoes when the big cars were re-shoeing every night. The reason that this was so important was that neither McGriff nor his co-driver were capable of even the most basic maintenance to the car.[1] McGriff also noted that the control afforded by his manual gearbox gave him a significant advantage the last day on the gravel roads in Chiapas, when he finally passed the Cadillac leading the race. The best placed European car was an Alfa Romeo sedan driven by Italian driver, Felice Bonetto.

Rank Drivers Car Time
1 United States Hershel McGriff
United States Ray Elliott
United States Oldsmobile 88 27:34:35
2 United States Thomas A. Deal
United States Sam Cresap
United States Cadillac Series 62 +1:06
3 United States Al Rogers
United States Ralph Rogers
United States Cadillac Series 62 +21:04
4 Italy Piero Taruffi
Italy Isidoro Ceroli
Italy Alfa Romeo 6C +26:29
5 United States Bud Sennett
United States John C Walch
United States Oldsmobile 88 +27:46
6 United States Lewis Hawkins
United States Wayland Burgess
United States Oldsmobile 88 +44:40
7 Mexico Luis Leal Solares
Mexico Damaso De la Conca
United States Oldsmobile 88 +49:19
8 Italy Felice Bonetto
Italy Bruno Bonini
Italy Alfa Romeo 6C +51:01
9 United States Johnny Mantz
United States Bill Stroppe
United States Lincoln Cosmopolitan +52:35
10 United States Jack McAfee
United States Ford Robinson
United States Cadillac Series 62 Sedanette +53:28
11 Mexico Raul Argilles Salgado United States Mercury +1:11:14
12 France Jean Trevoux
France André Mariotti
France Delahaye 175S +1:20:29
13 Mexico Jesus Nava Gonzales United States Lincoln +1:23:47
14 United States Edmund A. Kasold
United States Geano Contessotto
United States Ford +1:36:42
15 Mexico Leo Almanza United States Mercury +1:48:31
16 United States Owen R. Gray
United States Leon McMillan
United States Oldsmobile +1:52:17
17 Colombia Arcesio Paz United States Mercury +2:04:13
18 Mexico Carlos G. Mass United States Oldsmobile +2:07:35
19 Mexico Abelardo Matamoros Acosta United States Lincoln +2:09:08
20 Mexico Jesus Valezzi
Mexico Duenas Costa
United States Lincoln Cosmopolitan +2:21:50


Leg Date Route Driver Car Length Time
1 5 May Ciudad Juarez-Chihuahua United States Bill Sterling Cadillac 375 2:19:12
2 6 May Chihuahua-Parral United States George Lynch Cadillac 300 1:56:38
3 6 May Parral-Durango United States Bill Sterling Cadillac 404 2:55:08
4 7 May Durango-León United States Lonnie Johnson Cadillac 547 3:46:14
5 7 May León-Mexico City United States Tom Deal Cadillac Series 62 448 2:59:15
6 8 May Mexico City-Puebla Mexico Fernando Razo Maciel Packard 135 1:03:05
7 8 May Puebla-Oaxaca Italy Felice Bonetto Alfa Romeo 6C 412 3:45:26
8 9 May Oaxaca-Tuxtla Gutiérrez United States Johnny Mantz Lincoln 540 4:35:38
9 10 May Tuxtla Gutiérrez-El Ocotal Italy Piero Taruffi Alfa Romeo 6C 275 2:59:22


In this edition four people were killed. A four-year-old Juan Altamirano was hit by the car of Jesús Valezzi and Adolfo Dueñas Costa in the first stage in Cd. Juárez before the start of the race.[2]

In the same stage near to finish line the Guatemalan Enrique Hachmeister lost the control of his Lincoln.[3]

The Peruvian co-driver Jesús Reyes Molina died in the fourth stage in León, Guanajuato when the Nash of Henry Charles Bradley crashed with a bridge in the Florida river. Reyes Molina was taken to León Hospital, where he died.[4]

The Nash Ambassador driven by the Americans Eddie Sollohub-Nicholeo Scott hit the crowd and killed a spectator in the fourth stage.[5]


  1. ^ a b "The Legends of the Great Road Races Seminar | Car News Blog at Motor Trend". Blogs.motortrend.com. Archived from the original on 9 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  2. ^ "Juan Altamirano". Motorsport memorial. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Enrique Hachmeister". Motorsport memorial. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Jesús Reyes Molina". Motorsport memorial. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Unknown". Motorsport memorial. Retrieved 7 May 2011.